Friday, September 3, 2010

Happiness in Family

“Happiness is family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Family Proclamation)

This tells us that we need to look very carefully at the four Gospels and at Christ’s teachings in 3 Nephi for ways that we can incorporate more of them into our family life.

When we are told that happiness in family is most likely to be achieved when founded on Christ’s teachings, that tells us a little something about our statistical chances of success, although the language is numerically vague. It tells us we have a better chance of having a happy family going that way than by any other way.

That language of “most likely to be achieved” also acknowledges that even good families are not happy all the time. There’s a lot of chaos in family life and the greater the number of family members, the greater the chances for conflict. But the more family members are aligned with the teachings of Christ, moments of pleasure, peace, satisfaction, and contentment are more likely to occur. (The trick is to get everybody aligned..)
10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. (Alma 41:10-11)
This shows us that until we are truly converted to the Lord, we will be “in the gall of bitterness” and “in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” But once we are...
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41, emphasis added)
There are some things in the scriptures that teach things to increase or decrease happiness.
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. (Abraham 1:2, emphasis added)
Abraham sought the priesthood because he found out that there was greater happiness to be found in it. This shows us that attaining the priesthood brings happiness. And since the priesthood is meant to bless all the families of the earth, it is instrumental in increasing the happiness of every family member.
Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement (2 Nephi 2:10, emphasis added)
If happiness is affixed in opposition to punishment, this suggests to me that one way we can bring greater happiness in our families is by giving rewards for good as well as punishments for bad. When children receive rewards for good works from their parents, they can better understand rewards given by God.
Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws? (Mormon 9:3)
This verse suggests to us an earthly counterpart. If we would be unhappy to dwell with God knowing we have broken His laws, family members will find themselves unhappy at home when they break family rules. We are happier at home when we know that we are keeping the family rules. Guilt gets in the way of happiness.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. (1 Kings 10:8)
In the above verse, the Queen of Sheba is speaking to King Solomon after having observed his wisdom and how he runs his kingdom. If we can share wisdom with our children, they will be happy. (They may not know it unless an outsider points out to them how blessed they are, but they will be happy.)
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed (Psalms 127:3-5, emphasis added)
Do you mothers and fathers know how happy you are?
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. (Psalm 128:2)
This shows us that part of happiness is enjoying the results of our labors. We can help our children to be happy in work by paying them something for it.

Next we have some scriptures that describe happiness that comes from more difficult circumstances.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:11)

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. (Job 5:17)

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (1 Peter 3:14)
Finally, in our efforts to bring happiness to our families, we should not be surprised to find our families acting in counter-productive ways. The Book of Mormon notes this phenomenon:
Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. (Helaman 12:2, emphasis added)
This should warn us that we may see this cycle in our families too.
Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen. (D&C 87:8)
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God (D&C 109:8)
I know that it is true that happiness in the family is most likely to achieved by following the teachings of Christ.

4 comments:

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Awesome post! As usual! So are you going to write a book on finding happiness in family life? Because you could! (should.)

Michaela Stephens said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jocelyn. I certainly thought about it. I might, just to see what I can learn in the process. I learned a lot just from writing these posts on family.

Roger and LeAnn said...

This was a great post on finding happiness in family life. This is an ongoing fight to understand what it takes to have a righteous family. Satan is strong and is working hard to distroy families.
I appreciate your thoughts in this post and will share it with my children. Blessings to you! LeAnn

Anonymous said...

Family is very important in any religion or culture. My son instructor had spoke to him on the importance of family. He really looked up to his instructor who had taught at west ridge academy in utah