Looking back over the past decades of my personal history, I am actually thrilled to be writing a piece with this title. I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the Mormon Church) at the age of 16. Science was the religion in our home, and my parents probably allowed my baptism because they thought I was entering a temporary “phase,” of which I would soon tire and move on. Our family was highly dysfunctional, and our parents were fighting during most of our waking hours. As I met with the Mormon missionaries, I began to watch Mormon General Conference, held in April and October, on television. It seemed like the glorious Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang the hymn “Love at Home” at every conference, and it moved me so. All I wanted was two things — to be numbered among the Latter-day Saints (of whom there were 1.5 million at the time), and to have a happy family.
I did fulfill other goals. I was college educated and entered the career I wanted, but family was so central. I had a lot of wounds to heal, and damaging behaviors that had stretched over generations to bring screeching to a halt. Mormons call people who are able to do this “Saviors on Mount Zion.” These are they who manage to heal individuals and families and get them turned around, so they can find peace and happiness. This is not easy. Abuse of any sort is not a good teacher for a future parent. It is also a murderer of self-image and confidence.
Ours was a home for adults. Though there were three children, and we had plenty of age-appropriate toys, we were close to the same age, and our parents were much more comfortable with us when they could communicate as adults. We were far away from extended family, so my experience with young children or babies was minimal. Suddenly, with a new temple marriage and the prospect of an eternity with my worthy Mormon husband, I was expected to be a Mormon wife and mother. Mormon moms who have grown up with the various programs of the LDS Church have a great advantage when raising their own families. I had never attended a Family Home Evening except in college, which isn’t quite the same. I had just learned to pray myself, and had never helped a child to have spiritual experiences. I was like my parents in preferring older youth — I was a high school English teacher, not a kindergarten teacher.
We had some fun at our family home evenings. We prayed and read scriptures together, but we were never perfect at doing these things all the time. We had six great kids, and I often relied on my natural abilities as a teacher, since my nurturing abilities were wanting. We tried to follow all the counsels of the Latter-day Saint prophets, and sought after the Holy Ghost as our guide. We did some crazy things, like moving abroad with no job prospects. But again, we were following the Spirit, and he never let us down.
Our children are now grown and most have happy families of their own. They are able to follow the patterns we set in raising their children in love. We taught them good manners. We taught them compassion. They brought home lost pets and lost friends, and we had taken them all in. They have continued in this path. We have been numbered among the Saints; we have a happy family. We want to be together forever, and can be, through the higher covenants we have all made in Mormon temples. The bad habits of past generations have been broken, and we can look forward to better years for generations to come. Through family history and Mormon temple work, we are also healing those who have gone before. We have had very personal spiritual experiences to show us that this is really happening. Life is eternal. Healing is eternal. All of my deepest dreams have come true because of my Mormon family.