Friday, September 24, 2010

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Yesterday was the day - 15 years ago - when President Hinckley presented to the world, during the General Relief Society Meeting, The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Ironically, as I have thought about the importance of that document throughout this whole month, family happenings and experiences have occurred that have directed me to the words proclaimed by the mouth of a holy prophet!

Here are some things that I have learned and am learning about marriage and family and our relationship with God.

1. “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”

When two people have been directed through the spirit of the God to bind themselves together in marriage, and then keep and live their covenants, I am learning that I do not have the right to judge them! What I need to learn is how I help, serve and love without interferring or interrupting?  What can I do to provide strength to someone's marriage without imposing what I think should be done?

One of the things I have pondered very deeply this month is what role will my husband and I take when our children are grown and married with families of their own. When will be okay to let our children deal with their choices and when will it be necessary for us - my husband - to act as the “Patriarch?”

So premature in my experience to these thoughts, I can only think that that guidance and knowledge will come under the direction (and only under the direction) of the Holy Ghost.

2. “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.”

Ultimately, I believe, that is WHY we are here! We are here to help in the process of bringing Father’s spirit children to earth. I also believe the number of children a couple has is up to them.

Today I met a woman who, after answering her question of how many children I had, told me she felt very complete with her two. I found myself thinking what a wonderful way to express her feelings about her family! That she felt complete! I hope to be able to use that very phrase when I feel as she does!

3. “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Let me first state that I don’t believe any marriage or any family is perfect. I can go around comparing or judging all I like, but the fact of the matter remains that each marriage and each family has their own, unique set of challenges and experiences. Sometimes those challenges are very apparent to others; sometimes - perhaps many times – they are not.

While I have had and will continue to have experiences in my marriage and in my family that cause me to diligently seek for answers and rely on God’s help, I must remember there are many things (like intensely trying circumstances as well as sacred, God-given experiences) that will only be between a wife, her husband and the Lord!

Also, I find it very significant that in the list of principles on what establishes and maintains a successful marriage, that list DOES NOT include some of the following: a minimum yearly gross income, the ideal number of children, a minimum education requirement, a specific Church calling, or an ideal body weight. Instead, The Proclamation states, “Happiness in family life is more likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

4. “Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

Very early in my marriage I found myself doing the “usual” working so my husband could do the “usual” get through college. There was one point that found me frustrated and very emotional. I confided in a friend, fully expecting her to tell me things that would validate ME! I explained to her that I couldn’t wait for our “roles” to change (that of my husband doing the working and me the staying home). What she told me took me completely off guard.

She replied, “Darla, you have not changed roles! You are merely adapting to your circumstances. You thank the Lord for giving you the opportunity of seeing things differently than what you have expected them to be!” Then she walked off! She gave me NO sympathy. And it stung!  It stung B.A.D.L.Y.  But it became the pivotal moment when my attitude began to change about me, my husband and my obligation as an equal partner.

For that's what a marriage is. And the few times that I have tried to “balance” that equal partnership by trying to get others to view my “equalness” as unbalanced, has only caused that fulcrum to move farther from me. And farther from God.

5. “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

Here is what I know to be true: Life is MY ultimate test.

It is my test to see if the covenants I have made are the very covenants I will keep and live. There are times and circumstances and situations that blind me from remembering WHY I came here. Those things cause me to want things for me and for others that are not promised by a loving Father in Heaven. Those worldly desires diminish my faith, clouding the promise that, if I am faithful and true, I will be given EVERY righteous desire of my heart.

How grateful I am that the temple is where I am reminded my mission, my covenants, my relationship to God. And what I must do with my obligation to marriage and family as a daughter of God.


  1. It also states, "Parents have a sacred duty to...provide for their physical and spiritual needs." The Lord recognizes that we live in a physical state and need to provide the basic physical necessities to our families, a balance in all things. It is still a sacred duty, even though it is physical.