Good Morning, I’d like to thank the Bishopric and the ward council for this opportunity to speak today. Our family moved into the ward, from only about a mile away, a few months ago and we have been making the adjustment of becoming Grove 1st ‘ers’ versus, Grove 2nd ‘ers’. We bring our two youngest daughters with us. Haley is 18 and a senior at Perry High, and Annie is a freshman. We have a son Tanner that is serving a mission in Guayaquil Ecuador and can’t believe we switched wards on him mid mission. We also have an older daughter Nicolina that just graduated from BYU with a degree in Graphic Design and even older daughter that is graduated from BYU, married, and living in North Carolina. She works at Wake Forest Law School while her husband attends the Medical school.
We live in the county island part of the ward on a what I call a farm but my husband argues that it is absolutely not a farm. But I think that’s because he is from the small ranching town of St. Johns Arizona and I am from the sprawling suburb of Broomfield, Colorado, just north of Denver. And I think if you have horse and goats and chickens as neighbors, it’s a farm. But he thinks that a farm is acres and acres of alfalfa with tractors, and other farm equipment. But as I drive down the new street I still see farm equipment and at least an acre of some sort of grass growing and cows eating it, in my city girl mind that qualifies as a farm. To which he reluctantly agreed, however he adjusted my definition as property that is located on a rural street, with farm like qualities, but we specifically do not live on a farm. So I said, fine I’ll accept that definition. But just so you know, when the guy from Century Link showed up to set up the Wifi and asked my what we’d like to call it, I said, “TheFarm.” So needless to say, we work hard balancing the city girl in me, and the small town boy in him and after 27 years of marriage, we think we have finally found the house, on a farm-like property, that is only five minutes from Target. And that works for both of us.
We have been serving in the Stake as the Stregthening Marriage Intructors, which means that for six straight weeks in a row, about three to four times a year, we get together and talk about relationships. We have served for two years now and as time has gone on, I have realized that the information and lessons that are in the manual contain the same skills that are required to make any relationship work. Be it parent to child, friends, brothers and sisters, co-workers, etc. and the lessons revolve around one core principle. And I’ve seen that the People that can master this core principle and develop the skill to practice it, have working, successful relationships. However, the principle is all encompassing and has many parts to it and can be complicated in every way. As followers of Christ we try hard to emulate this principle every day. We pray to be Christ like, We pray to be more loving. The prophet Moroni has told us that the love we want to practice is called charity, and this charity is the pure love of Christ.
The Apostle Paul defines charity for us in the New Testament and Moroni echoes his words in the Book of Mormon and gives us a glimpse of the many parts to the definition of Charity. “Charity, suffereth long and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things. Moroni warns that if we have not charity, we are nothing, for charity never faileth.
There are so many parts to Charity however we must have faith that the practicing of charity will never fail us. But oh how hard that is to do when people have different personalities, traits, likes, dislikes, different backgrounds, traditions, than ourselves. However, these are the obstacles we will face when trying to live a Christ like life.
I’d like to focus on one important skill we’ve learned from the lessons we give about marriage that can help us develop charity. The skill is communication. Which might sound odd that I’m linking communication to Charity, which generally is seen as acts of service like making someone dinner, or helping a person move. But the more we have taught the lessons, the more we realized that communication is the very basis for developing Christ like love.
President Spencer W. Kimball once said that “there is magic in words properly used. Some people use them accurately, while others sloppily.” He goes on to say that “words are means of communication, and faulty signals give wrong impressions. Disorder and misunderstandings are the results. Words underlie our whole life and are the tools of our business, the expressions of our affections, and the records of our progress. Words cause hearts to throb and tears to flow in sympathy. Words can be sincere or hypocritical. Many of us are destitute of words, and consequently, are clumsy with our speech.”
I have to work every minute of every hour on my clumsy speech. In stressful situations that arise quite quickly, why is it that sometimes the quickest words that jump into my head are the sarcastic, or the angry, or the defensive ones? I hope I’m not alone in this. I know that we have a battle to fight everyday against Satan and these clumsy, poorly used words can be a powerful weapon for him to use and keep me from having a loving heart.
However, when I study Christ’s words, I learn that they are thought out and methodical. They are reasoned and full of wisdom. He asks questions and discusses. He never demeans or justifies and he doesn’t quickly react. My daughter is taking film study this year and we have been watching the movie Gandhi with her. Ghandi studied the life of Christ and had a Christian minister as a friend. He learned how to emulate Christ. He speaks gently, with knowledge. Early in the movie, there is a scene with his wife where he doesn’t use these skills and they have a fight. He immediately recognizes his arrogance, and bullishness and apologizes. His wife points out that even though he is trying his best he still is human, he does make mistakes, and she does as well. So I do recognize that I’m not going for perfection, just more skilled practice. I feel like communicating with charity is like a dance, it’s a work that we do together that we have to be aware of every minute of every day, otherwise, toes will be stepped on, and the flow of the dance interrupted. When charity seeks its own, meaning, we seek compassion from others, or expect other to be compassionate to us, problems will follow. One of Gandhi’s famous quotes is that “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Christ was born into this world to help us see. He came to cure our blindness. He does that by opening our eyes when we practice charity. Charity has the power to heal relationships, and make good relationships soar. Learning how to communicate your love for your family with good words can be a way to serve them.
For example, when my husband comes home from a long day at work and he looks beat, It’s much nicer, kinder, and charitable to say, “something seems to be troubling you, do you want to talk about it?” instead of “well you came home grumpy, what is your problem?” Even My tone and body language is softer in the first example. In fact, the first statement might even be accompanied by a hug or at least a pat on the shoulder.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton once said, “I pray our Heavenly Father will help us to communicate more effectively in the home through a willingness to sacrifice, a willingness to listen, a willingness to vocalize feelings, a willingness to avoid judgment, a willingness to maintain confidences, and a willingness to practice patience. Communication can help build family unity if we will work at it and sacrifice for it.
The number one thing I love about facilitating the marriage class is when the couples really understand and recognize the importance of practicing charity with the way they communicate, and actually change their tone, words, and pay attention to their clumsy speech, then the miracles start to happen. Problems that seemed unsolvable, are solved. New problems crop up, like they always do and always will, but they handle them differently than they did before. The frustrations that existed seem to dissipate.
They finally understand that loving another person wholly means loving without any expectation of love in return. Which is a very hard concept to accept. A common discussion point we have after about the fourth week, is “What if I do all I can and the person still doesn’t change?” It’s at that point, that we go back to lesson one, and discuss the principles of Charity all over again. We have to understand about unconditional love and the faith it requires to practice it. We must do what Moroni tells us in Chapter 7 verse 48 ,Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as his is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”
We have to pray to learn the proper way to communicate love. We can ask for help with better word choice. We can ask for our own eyes to be opened to the words we use that might unknowingly be hurting others. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to be shown that you are offending, but I’ve seen a person change and humble themselves from what they thought was funny sarcasm, to good humor that made their spouse feel valid instead of demeaned. And the person did not know their sarcasm was hurting the other person until it was communicated in a not-threatening way, clearly and with love.
I like the promise that Moroni writes in verse 47 of chapter 7 too.
47“But charity is the pure love of Christ and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
When I see, after a few weeks of class, that the couples that apply the principle of charity, are sitting closer together, and have a glow about their countenance, I can’t help but think that this is serving one another. The apostle Paul even reminds us that “although we might bestow all our goods to the the poor and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” So basically he is saying, there is no amount of service you can give that would make up for this lack of love. It must co-exist together.
I would like you to know that I have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and following his example. When I apply His way into my life, he blesses me and reassures me that His way is the only way. I have to pray everyday though for his strength to remind my clumsy mouth to choose better words. And sometimes I’ve even thought, maybe It would just be easier if I should just not speak at all, or just stay home because I’m sure to say the wrong thing. But isn’t that what Satan would have us do, be alone and miserable and not reaching out to others. So, I have to learn that I”m practicing everyday, just like everybody else, and gratefully, my husband and my dear friends and my loving family are very skilled in the practice of forgiveness.