Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Patricia Terry Holland recently revisited their roots with their family in St. George, Utah. They shared the stories of their childhood, the significance of family, and what it means to be united as God’s children. But there was one important thing he said about the family that is worth revisiting. (Link)
Below are some excerpts from the video with some highlighted portions. What does he teach us about the eternal family?
Elder Holland: No family is perfect, and certainly life hasn’t spared ours; its moments of grief and pain and trial. But maybe in spite of that (or even because of that) those moments have forged even stronger ties as we unitedly relied on each other and the Lord. We know there are many of you for whatever reason, struggle with the idea of what is often termed the traditional family or the perfect family. Perhaps abuse has darkened the brightness of what might have been a celestial home. Perhaps divorce has left you on your own, searching for answers about the past and protection for the future. Perhaps you’re prayerfully and patiently still waiting for the blessing of being united to your own eternal companion, or having children you cannot yet bear. For our faithful LGBT friends, perhaps your heart and mind are struggling to find hope and peace and your place in the eternal picture. Please, all of you, know this:
Now, try if you can (and I know you can) avoid getting tripped up by the phrase “traditional family” and instead replace it with a phrase like “eternal family.” With an eternal perspective comes understanding that we are all part of one big family—the family of God. That is why we call each other brother and sister.
Imagine a world where people understood our true family tie to one another. What civility would we cultivate? What division would we avoid? What love would we let warm our devotion and divine connection to one another? Now hear me out on this crucial point: I promise you that it is engaging in our personal family history and the temple experience it leads to that we discover the reality of our eternal relationship as brothers and sisters in the family of God. That great realization can repair family rifts, if there be any. It can heal bruised hearts, if there be any. And it can unify otherwise strained relationships, if there be any. All in an undeniably powerful way. If we understood this truth, how we would treat one another differently. How we would lift up hands that hang down and strengthen feeble knees. Let’s not just call each other brother and sister. Let’s show one another what it means when we realize that we are one big eternal family. That will change overnight many of the thoughts and deeds and our actions.
Sister Holland: We are missing the mark if when we tap into our family roots we fail to recognize our divine roots. Our foundation and our connection to our Father in Heaven. He loves us. He worries about us. And He hopes we will listen to the council He wishes to give us. Bonds. Ties. Connections. Eternity. I love thinking that my husband and I and our children are safe in Heavenly Fathers arms forever if we keep His commandments and truly desire that blessing.
Here’s another promise to you: I promise that the closer you get to God, the more you will want to be with Him and to be like Him. That will include understanding His love and His greatest desire, namely to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all His children. That great work of exaltation can also be our work. And, speaking specifically of family history and temple experience, the more we engage in gathering all of God’s children on both sides of the veil, the closer we get to God. My role in this work has evolved over the course of my life. I didn’t know all this … but I’ve seen my relationship with my Father in Heaven grow and I’ve witnessed the miracles that can come when we take part in His divine mission. …
God sees the global population as one family—His family. This mighty work of salvation is moving forward as we are connecting and binding and linking all of God’s children to each other on both sides of the veil. We all have a role to play. Any of you who engage in family history and temple work are, in essence, showing our Father in Heaven, that you care about Him and His family and His purposes.
Please join the ranks! Seek Him. Take part in this work, however you can. As you do, I promise that you will find your own place in the family of God. The reality of your connection to Him and to others will sink deep into your heart and into your mind. That knowledge will change you—perhaps dramatically change you—as you become ever closer to Him and ever more like Him.