I remember almost nothing about the small church branch our family attended when I was in 2nd grade, but one thing I distinctly remember is being moved by one of the hymns – I Need Thee Every Hour. I’ve since added many others to my list but that one still moves me today.
Recently a common mantra in my prayers is “Dear God, I need thee in my life.” I plead for His presence because I know that in so many ways, my actions push Him away. I try, but in spite of my best efforts, I know I don’t keep all of the commandments with exactness. In some cases, Sabbath Day observance for example, I sometimes don’t even try very hard. There are so many areas in which I need to recommit, to change and to repent in order to become what I hope to become. In that effort, I truly do need Him – every day, every hour and every minute.
So what’s my point?
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my family. I have a wonderful family and I include all of the blended elements and spouses and grandchildren in that expression. I think it is safe to say that you are all doing your best to live good lives and provide what you feel your families need. I also know that all of us struggle with our own particular personal and family challenges – public and private. When I pray for God’s presence in my own life, I also pray that He will help each of you.
May I suggest that in addition to needing God’s presence in our lives, though, we also need each other?
I have always been a bit independent, believing in my ability to take care of myself, and I’ve tried to teach my children that same value. The problem with an attitude of independence for me, however, is that it can so easily turn into self-absorption. I know that I have a tendency to get wrapped up in my own life, my own problems, my own goals, etc. to the point that I appear aloof and disinterested. That is not, however, a tendency that I wish to nourish or cultivate. The years of my life are passing quickly but I hope I can still change. In the meantime, I’m grateful for your patience and for those times when you extend me the benefit of the doubt.
As the world drifts farther and farther from faith in God and closer to lawlessness and anarchy, we will need a closely-knit core of supporters to help us along. I hope we will look to our families. I appreciate your roles in my life and want you to know that I rely on you in many more ways than I tend to express. I am strengthened by your examples and sometimes by a listening ear. I can foresee a future, however, in which we could possibly need much more from each other than just a little moral support. I hope this is still far distant but it can’t hurt to prepare and make ready.
For my part, I believe that cultivating our relationships with one another is one of the best ways to do that. I believe that what we think of each other matters. Like it or not, we are all part of something much larger than ourselves. Our individual roles in that are up to us. Are we willing to participate? Are we willing to play our part? Are there conditions?
Every society in recorded history has had laws – conditions that the members of society agreed to be subjected to. If you wanted to be a member in good standing of your group, you abided by the conditions. In the family, the simple standards of courtesy, forgiveness, give and take, and unconditional love might be important. I’m sure you could think of one or two more to add to the list.
Even God, the most loving and forgiving of us all, puts conditions on our status in His kingdom. I care what He thinks of me and I try (emphasis on “try”) to act accordingly for a number of reasons.
First of all, I hope to show my love toward Him, and I have faith that as I attempt to follow His will, my love for Him will actually grow. Further, I hope to be worthy of His consideration, His atonement, and His other blessings. I care about Him. I care about His blessings. Therefore, I care what He thinks of me and I invest, even to the point of changing my behavior, in those things that I believe matter to Him.
As I extend that analogy, I begin to see areas where I, myself, have really fallen short with my family and my friends. I frequently fail to invest adequately in my relationships with all of you. I go back to that problem with “independence.” Again, I apologize. My commitment to all of you is that I will do better. I might not change overnight but I am fighting the battle.
Likewise, I hope for all of us that we will view one another with compassion, love, and understanding. None of us can know all of the challenges and trials that all of the others are going through. When someone acts in a manner that we don’t understand, perhaps we could extend the benefit of the doubt. When someone appears to push us away, perhaps that is when they most need our love and understanding. Maybe they just don’t know it yet.
I love you all. I pray for you all. I need you all. Thanks for the great things you are doing and becoming. You really are, all of you, the best of the best.