Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents do not over react to wayward children. I recognize as a parent that children are our own flesh and blood, and we want our children to be perfect. I also recognize that few human beings who have ever lived on earth could have measured up to my expectations for my own children. I simply wanted them to be absolutely perfect in every way, and I pushed them to become the best they could be.
None of my children have reached perfection yet, but all of them are exceedingly good people. I am extremely pleased with my children and the adults they have become. They are all responsible grownups who are doing much to make the world a better place. However, I deeply understand the pains of parents who have seen their child or children walk away from the straight and narrow path of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am one of the parents who panicked and thought that all was lost when my oldest child chose her own path. Since she was an adult at the time and not doing anything illegal, there was not much that I could do about her choices then - or now. I made the deliberate choice to simply love her, pray for her, and appreciate the truly good person that she is.
I also choose to hope for my daughter’s return to the path, and I receive great comfort and hope from various sources. I continue to cling to the words of prophets and apostles, such as the following quote by Orson F. Whitney.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared – and he never taught a more comforting doctrine – that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, April 1929, 110).
Elder Whitney promises faithful parents that their wayward children will return in either this life or the next. He tells parents to pray for “careless and disobedient children” and to “hold on to them with your faith.” This gives me something that I can do, and I accept the challenge! I determined long ago – and I continue to be committed – to live the best life that I can possibly live. As I focus on my own shortcomings, I put my trust in God. I know that He loves my daughter even more than I do, so I continue to exercise faith and hope while praying for her daily. I continue to examine my own life and try to overcome my imperfections.
I recently found an article by Larry Barkdull that strengthens my resolve to continue in my efforts to be exactly obedient. He writes, “Let us remember that every effort we make to sanctify ourselves has a redeeming effect on the person for whom we are praying.” He continues by teaching the importance of obedience.
God places enormous weight on this “first law of heaven.” In the beginning, God created a master law to which all other specific laws are dependent: “There is a [master] law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all [specific] blessings are predicated – And when we obtain any [specific] blessing from God, it is by obedience to that [specific] law upon which it [the specific blessing] is predicated.” [Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21, commentary added.] Also, “For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the [specific] law which was appointed for that [specific] blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.” [Doctrine and Covenants 132:5, commentary added.]
Because God is a God of truth and cannot lie, the promised blessings for obedience to any specific law are certain under the terms of the master law. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” [Doctrine and Covenants 1:38.] The Lord binds himself to deliver the promised blessings associated with every obeyed law: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” [Doctrine and Covenants 82:10.] …
Clearly, increasing our level of obedience increases our level of sanctification, which empowers us to petition and receive blessings in behalf of our loved ones.
This statement tells me two things: (1) I must be as obedient to God as I can possibly be. (2) I must start asking the right questions in order to receive the answers that I need. Some of these questions may be: What specific blessings should I be asking for? What specific law do I need to obey in order to see all of my children walking the straight and narrow path? What specific sin do I need to give up in order to receive this blessing?
Indisputably, the above statements say that I must be exact in my obedience to all of God’s commandments. I must be faithful in keeping the covenants that I have made with Him. I must also be obedient to specific laws in order to receive specific blessings. It is only through obedience that I can reach a level of sanctification that will bring blessings into the lives of my children and other family members. Clearly, God has a plan whereby all His wayward children can travel the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life with Him, and this includes me.
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