One of the most heart wrenching earth-life realities for me is that “Families Can be Together Forever,” but not right now, not today. I’m sure I inherited this problem from my mother, who always morns the missing “one” no matter how many come to the family event. If she could have, she would have added a new wing to her home for each of her seven children and their families. In fact she lives across the street from me today and says she lives in the “west wing.”
I remember one year my husband and I were planning a family trip. We had clearly outgrown the family van so the only option was to take two cars. I was not a happy mother. What about group singing, and the who can be the first one to find all the ABCs on the billboards game, and trying to get the truck drivers to honk their horns, and seeing how high we can pile the cheese whiz on the wheat thin, and the joking and laughing, and passing around the map? What about all that! We were just one seatbelt shy. I spent days trying to persuade my husband that we should make an extra seat between the two front seats and have a seatbelt installed. My kids still razz me about that. So I like my family. I like to be with them. It’s not perfect. We’re not perfect. We have our moments, but on the whole it’s pretty good.
Today I’m the mother of grownups and these grownups have children of their own, fourteen of them. And then there are my five brothers and their wives and kids and my sister and her husband and their kids who now have kids and my aunts and uncles and cousins, not to mention all the people I know and love and wish were in my family! It would take more than an extra seatbelt to solve my hankering to have us all moving down life’s highway together. It would take a miracle.
In the grand scheme of things I’ve been taught that Heavenly Father and Jesus feel a lot like me. They love their family. They want us to be together. They have a plan that definitely trumps my extra seatbelt idea. They tell us that it’s actually their work and their glory to make eternal togetherness possible. Sometimes, with the people in my life coming and going in so many different directions it’s hard to imagine that eternity together is really a possibility. I always find it amazing how well the Lord knows my fears, and recently I had two experiences where the Lord renewed my hope for a bright future with my family and my friends.
My sister called and told me that she was being released as an LDS Addiction Recovery Program missionary and as one of my companions. There are other things she needs to be doing in preparation for the future, and the Lord has released her from this assignment. I understood, but I was very sad. It has been a wonderful experience being a missionary with my sister. We were “sister Sisters!” She has always been very supportive of me, but this was a very unique experience. There is a difference between support from the sidelines and actual participation. Working in the LDS Addiction Recovery Program together, and at the same time striving to live in recovery together with her full participation in the steps and tools of recovery has blessed my life in ways I can’t express. As I took my sadness to the Lord this thought was placed in my mind, “Nannette, no change in your life can diminish the blessing you have experienced during this time. Nothing of value is ever lost through changes I bring into your life.” I’m so grateful to know that the Lord takes good care of the good and valuable experiences I’ve shared with others. All the best parts of earth life are eternal.
My other experience was with my brother. One day we were comparing our adult lives, back and forth, through e-mail. Through my brother’s work the Lord has taken him and his family from west coast to east and even across the sea to live and work and serve in the Church. Conversely, I have never moved. We were commiserating over the fact that we have lived apart for most of our grown-up years. I wrote to him, “Our adult home situations have been so different haven’t they? In fact they couldn’t have been more different. I have lived on the same block for 39 years. Sometimes I think about the adventure of moving about the way you have, but I try not to dwell on it too long. I think my life is just as the Lord wants it and so it yours. Both ways have their positive and negative points, but that’s not what it’s really all about. It’s about where the Lord has placed us, where our mission lies. The most important thing we can each do is magnify the Lord right here (wherever “here” is) and right now. Let’s both keep doing “the next right thing,” as we say in addiction recovery, and maybe one day we will live close on this earth. The thing I do know is that if we live that way on earth, we will live close forever after and that’s the most important thing of all!”
So it’s not about buying a minivan with more seatbelts, or having twin callings, and it’s not even about geography. True lasting Fellowship with those we love is about how we live in relationship to Jesus Christ and His gospel. As we come and go and come and go we can trust Him with our “Together Forever-ness.”
By Nannette W.
Posted Wednesday October 6, 2011
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