I am privileged to be the mother of eight amazing children. Each bright, intelligent, witty, fun and loving. They each came with a strong mind of their own. I admire and respect each of them and I am constantly grateful that there was rarely a dull moment in the day to day of their upbringing. We spent a lot of time in each other's company by choice and by the close proximity that is inevitable in a big family. We chose to follow the prophet and gathered each day (most days!) for family scripture study and prayer. We also chose to gather every week for Family Home Evening. These were always lively gatherings and included some pestering and annoying but also plenty of light-hearted banter and even some active wrestling and tumbling around on the furniture and each other. But with persistence, I could corral them into a few minutes of quiet listening. As they got older we could stretch that into some longer discussions on topics of interest or concern depending on my observation of their needs or a topic that had caught their enthusiasm or curiosity.
It happens that my Love Language is Quality Time so any time spent discussing life, love and truth with my family makes me very happy. We can wax philosophical about the cosmos or debate the finer points of gospel doctrine. We might compare and contrast the literary meaning of Shakespeare or the Simpsons. I love to hear my offspring talk about their shared history and I often learn about some things they did that I am glad to learn long after the danger has passed and they went ahead and grew into civilized adults. These discussions are great opportunities for me to listen and learn. Now that most of them are married, their spouses add to the interesting discussions. Their and their spouses' experience in life and their studies and personal pursuits have made them experts in different fields of interest. I have learned about physics, health and nutrition, scriptures, missionary work, child development, chemistry, rocket science, math, art, Paris, London, Brazil, Russia, Hmong Culture, car maintenance and repair, hair maintenance and repair, fitness, history, politics, literature, cooking....the list goes on and on!
We do not always agree on everything and a few times there have been rifts. Those rifts were not because of disagreements that came up in discussions but because we were divided momentarily and didn't have discussions we should have. The process of building an eternal family requires us to allow for the inevitable growing pains that are part of the refining process.
For our family, we have an underlying foundation of love.
We always come back to that.
It is a fierce love and protectiveness that runs through all of us.
Through the years, there were some things that were a given. One, the favorite FHE song for our family: "Jesus Said Love Everyone". It was chosen early on because I wanted them to understand love in clear and simple terms. Later they chose it because it is very short. Whatever the motives, this song has been the background theme to our family togetherness.
Jesus said love everyone,Short, sweet and to the point.
Treat them kindly too.
When your heart is filled with love,
others will love you.
Of course as they grew up they realized that things aren't always that cut and dried. Life is complicated and sometimes confusing. We don't always agree with everyone, they don't always agree with us. But we can still love everyone and treat them kindly. I daresay they have figured out that no matter how full of love your heart is, there might be some people who don't love you. Luckily, we have the Atonement to help us make peace with that inequity. Hopefully the fuller understanding followed them out into the lives they grew into. Also hopefully, the underlying simplicity of loving others and treating them kindly followed them as well.