Sunday, June 8, 2014


They’re everywhere: faithful yet heart-broken Latter-day Saints sitting alone in Sacrament Meeting because their family members have chosen “other paths.” I know because I’ve not only seen them, I’m one of them. 
Not in the usual sense, for I’m not the parent of a wayward child, but I do have other family members who’ve either become apathetic toward church attendance or who’ve lost their testimonies through sin or miss-choice. And it grieves me. Grieves me to the point that many Sundays are tearful days of mourning, days that remind me my family’s opportunities for God’s blessings, including Eternal Life together, are at stake.
And yet, though this Sunday “cry session” has gone on for more years than I’d like to count, I have learned to hope.
One learning experience came while I, as a Young Women’s leader, was attending a Stake Young Women’s girl’s camp. I was participating in a familiar, spiritual activity in which all the participants were blind-folded, given a “name” (actually, I think it was something like an animal sound), told we needed to find the rest of our “family,” and then while holding them close to us, complete a specific task which brought us “Home.” As luck would have it, shortly after I found my family I lost them again. For the rest of the activity, I was a lone person in the field.
Until the end. That was when, after all other groups had succeeded with their tasks, someone noticed I was lost and sent my “family” to retrieve me. Finally, tearfully, I returned “Home.” But I wasn’t tearful because I was embarrassed that I was the last one on the field (though I slightly was); it was because one of Christ’s parables had suddenly become alive in me:
Matthew 20:1-16
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

In other words, it doesn't matter whether my family and I make it to God’s Kingdom first or last. What matters is that we get there. And when we get there, we’ll each receive the same reward: Eternal Life.

A second lesson came while I was praying for a specific loved one, pouring out my sorrow and hopelessness. I felt alone and at the end of my “How do I hang on?” rope. But then, very distinctly, I heard the voice of another loved one who’d passed beyond the veil in recent years say to me, “Don’t give up on . . . .”

Yes, her voice taught me I was not alone in this trial, that our deceased loved ones are working, perhaps mourning for our “lost” family members, too; but mostly, it filled me with hope. I still carry her words and that hope inside me.

Finally, I’ve learned to hope because the Lord has heard my prayers. I know He has. I’ve seen His answers. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in large, but one answer I’ll share here because I believe it can help others.

Some time ago, I was searching for an article to supplement a Sunday lesson I had to give as part of the calling I had at that time. I don’t remember the subject I was researching, but I do remember one article that appeared on the computer screen. It had NOTHING to do with my subject but everything to do with the specific, “wayward child” trial I then faced. It was a talk given by a general authority which told me exactly what I needed to do in this situation (I’ve included it in the following list). I immediately read it, recognized it for the Heavenly Answer it was, printed it, and now keep it in my journal where I’ve read and re-read it almost as much as I read my patriarchal blessing. It’s another one of my life-lines from God, something that guides me as I struggle, worry, and work to help Heavenly Father bring my family—and His—back Home.

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