This week I have been thinking bunches about the purpose of family and my desire to have or not have more children. Unlike many of you I feel significantly self-absorbed still, and kids have, to this point, significantly cramped my ability to do whatever I want whenever I want. I would like to share three experiences this last week that have made me feel extremely grateful for the family that I have and have taught me poignant lessons.
On Sunday, the 23rd Heidi and I took our kids down to the visitors’ center in Idaho Falls and spent an hour or so with Bob and Julie and Co. We saw a Cristus, watched some family films and looked around at their other displays. We had a good time and will probably be going back in the future. Hyrum loved the big feet and hands on the Christ statue. When we were coming home I asked Heidi about her desire to raise a family it went something like this:
Me: Honey, why did you want to have kids? I love our family and all but what has been your motivation?
Her: I don’t know. I just have always loved kids and have wanted my own family. You know my patriarchal blessing talks about my kids.
Me: But where does that motivation come from. I mean kids don’t seem to bring freedom and options to our lives; they usually even make it harder.
Her: I guess so; I mean, I know that is true, but I guess none of that has bothered me. I know that it is the right thing to do.
Me: Well I know it’s right too. That has actually been one of my only motivations. I guess if Heavenly Father (HF) hadn’t told us to have a family I may not have been willing to start one. I just hope that there comes a time when I feel that desire for myself.
For all of those wondering, I do love my kids. It just takes sacrifice, scheduling, and attention that I often don’t want to give. I’m sure all of you can understand that natural man feeling in someway. In a way I was asking HF to show me the Joy I can receive in fulfilling one of my earthly purposes.
Two days later on the evening of Tuesday the 25th I was at a Bishopric training meeting with the Stake Presidency. All three members of the Stake Presidency were taking turns talking about how we can fill our spiritual “buckets.” After the Stake President had shared some thoughts he asked everyone in the room to share some thoughts about how we fill our spiritual buckets. After several comments I raised my hand and shared something like this:
Me: I fill my spiritual bucket when I set time aside to spend with my family. There are lots of days where my two-year-old Hyrum gets up from his nap and I am supposed to be watching him but I would rather have time to myself. Lots of times I would rather do my homework, play a game, or take a nap; but when I put all of that aside for and hour or so and dedicate my time to play with my son or take him somewhere I come home renewed because of my actions. I love them because I am willing to serve them and Heavenly Father fills up my bucket that way.
You should know that I felt the spirit testifying to me that this was true and I was overpowered with my personal emotions to the point of crying openly with these brethren.
On Friday the 28th Heidi and I and decided that we were going to have a family movie night and let Hyrum stay up with us and then sleep in the front room. We were all very excited. Before I lead all of you to believe that this was a fantastic family activity I want you to know that – the movie part was great, the sleeping part a flop. During and Right after dinner I laid all of our blankets our on the floor in our front room and got Hyrum started in the bathtub. I decided that I should go get our camping mats and sleeping bags so I walked over to get them from our storage unit on the other side of the complex. As I was walking up the stairs one of our young women was rather happily running down the stairs all dressed up and perfumed all over. As we passed I thought about the kind of fun and carefree evening she must be going on, so excited to have a date on a Friday night 3 weeks into her first semester here at school. I thought about how Heidi and I would be spending the next 2 hours in our pajamas, trying to keep our 2 year old to be interested in spending time together, even watching Cars, a movie that he loves.
By the time I reached the top of the stairs and turned the corner I realized that I was very happy and excited for our little family night in. It was really at this moment that I began to realize that HF has been changing my heart for the last three years; that I am someone different than I was when we got married. Family life isn’t always the easiest but it suddenly felt much more rewarding. We had lots of fun watching our movie and then my dear wife spent the next hour trying to get Hyrum to sleep. In the middle of the night when I was getting pushed off my pillow I decided to move to the couch and apparently a little while after that Heidi moved to the bed because little feet were kicking her. We both woke up in these spots with Hyrum sleeping happily on the living room floor.
That next morning on the 29th we had planned to go to the temple. Our babysitter arrived midmorning and we made our way up the hill. When we were in the temple I continually heard and felt the words of the endowment ringing through my bones:
Narrator: “That they may fill the measure of their creation and have joy therein.”
Sitting in the Celestial room I was given time to reflect on a wonderful week wherein the Lord taught me a little more about families, the purpose of life, and his ability to change our desires and ultimately our hearts.
Just last night, Saturday the 6th, we were coming home having a completely different conversation than two weeks previous. We were discussing the challenges of life and how to best teach and love our children. When we pulled in we were talking about our busy lives and how best to support each other. I started to tell Heidi about some of the talks in the Priesthood session; particularly President Monson’s about the power to change and that man can change. I tried to tell Heidi how much I have grown to love her and our kids but could hardly finish because of the tears.
I hope you all know how much each of you means to me and how you have been living examples of the principles I have talked about here. Thank you for everything!