I gave a talk in church 10/13/2019 about making our homes a sacred place. Here it is:
We have just heard lovely words about the sacredness of the temple. And the Bible dictionary makes a profound statement by saying that “Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”
Why is that? Well, Sister Neil F. Marriott said that the “temple’s purpose is to serve mankind and give all of Heavenly Father’s children the ability to return and live with Him. She then asked, “Isn’t our purpose similar to these dedicated buildings, these houses of the Lord? To serve others and help them push back the darkness and return to Heavenly Father’s light?”
President Harold B Lee said: “The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”
The home is the predominant place where we help ourselves and others prepare to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence eternally. This is why it can and should be a sacred place.
As I pondered that concept all week, my mind has kept going back to this paragraph from the Proclamation to the World on the Family: Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
This quote is prominently displayed in my home, and I know that by following these principles, our homes can be sacred places. Families come in a variety of sizes and circumstances, and this inspired counsel applies to all of us.
Let’s go through each part and learn more how to make our homes sacred and our families happy:
Founded upon the Teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ
The prophet Helaman taught his sons to “remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
It’s so important that we have solid individual foundations built on Christ. We should recognize where we lack in spiritual mattes and try to make goals to get better. I recently made a list of things I want to do better at and make sure I do daily. I keep it above my desk, and it’s a great daily reminder and motivator for me. It feels so good to do everything on my list, even if I can only do five minutes a day. Just doing these spiritual things consistently can help me build a righteous habit.
We try to keep Christ at the center of our home as a family by singing hymns, reading scriptures, studying the lessons in the Come Follow Me manual, praying often, displaying pictures of Christ and the temple around our home, having the missionaries over, discussing with each other how to share the gospel, doing family home evenings where we talk about how to be better children of God, and talking about how much Heavenly Father and Jesus love us. Our sweet kids find comfort in these routines, even if they don’t always seem to be paying attention. Love is stronger in our home as we build our foundation upon Christ.
Elder Richard G Scott said, “One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.
Faith – President Nelson has counseled us “to [remodel our] homes into a sanctuary of faith.” I have experienced firsthand how having faith in Christ can help you personally, and your loved ones, weather the storms of life, of which there will be many. We are always so touched by the faith of our children as they ask to pray for someone or something, or as they ask for a priesthood blessing for healing or comfort.
Sometimes faith is strong in the home, but other times a loved one may be declining spiritually. President Eyring counseled about this to parents, but his counsel applies to all. He asked us to realize that when someone’s faith begins to diminish that “the underlying cause is the influence of Satan trying to lead good people down a path to sin and thus to lose the influence of the Holy Ghost.” There are many things we can try to help our children or another loved one turn back to Christ, but President Eyring counseled that “building faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning of reversing spiritual decline in your family and in your home. That faith is more likely to bring repentance than your preaching against each symptom of spiritual decline.” President Eyring reminded us, that “You will best lead by example. Family members and others must see you growing in your own faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel.” So, to help our family members have faith, we must be constantly nourishing ours.
Prayer – Everyone has heard the term that “families that pray together, stay together.” I have seen in my own life the power that comes from prayer, personally, as spouses, and as a family. I have seen changes of heart, and great miracles.
President Eyring said: Your praying as a family can play a crucial part in making home a sacred place. One person is usually chosen as voice to pray for the family. When the prayer is clearly to God in behalf of the people kneeling and listening, faith grows in all of them. They can feel expressions of love for Heavenly Father and for the Savior. And when the person who prays mentions those who are kneeling in that circle who are in need, all can feel love for them and for each member of the family. Even when family members are not living in the home, prayer can build bonds of love. Prayer in the family can reach across the world.”
Repentance – President Eyring counseled: “Because none of us is perfect and feelings are easily hurt, families can become sacred sanctuaries only as we repent early and sincerely. Parents can set an example. Harsh words or unkind thoughts can be repented of quickly and sincerely. A simple “I am sorry” can heal wounds and invite both forgiveness and love.”
It’s easy to hold onto harsh words and justify them as if someone deserved them. In contrast, it can be hard to have the humility to admit to wrongdoing and apologize. But, as we do so sincerely, and with real intent to be better, we can heal hurt and rebuild our relationships with those in our home.
Forgiveness – There are many reasons why Christ has asked us to be like little children. One reason that I have seen so often is that children are so forgiving. As long as children receive a sincere apology and an outpouring of love, they move forward as if nothing has happened. Adults, on the other hand, sometimes like to hold onto grudges and let hurt overtake them. It could be hurt that comes from someone in the household, or someone without. But, if we hold onto bitterness, it’s hard to feel the Spirit of the Lord in our hearts and in our home. It’s best to realize everyone makes mistakes, and that we are all doing our best. In the home, we must remember we are on the same team, and our goal should be becoming an eternal family. That can only happen if are striving to have harmony in the home.
Respect – Terrance D Olson said that “Respect is an expression of Christlike living. Respect for others shows reverence for God and for His creations… The gospel teaches us that we are to hold the same esteem for others that we hold for ourselves.”
Children learn by example. If we want them to show respect to us, we need to be sure we are keeping God’s commandments, using good manners as we teach and direct them, showing gratitude consistently to God and our family, and being united with our spouse if we have one in the home.
Love – The most important love we need in our homes is the love of God. We must know and truly feel that we are children of God, that He loves us, knows our names, and wants us to be happy. As these truths echo in our hearts, we will better be able to feel love for those who live in or visit our homes.
In conference, Elder Gong said, “Covenant marriage becomes supernal and eternal as we daily choose the happiness of our spouse and family before our own. As “me” becomes “we,” we grow together.” And going right along with that, President Nelson said, “Giving help to others—making a conscientious effort to care about others as much as or more than we care about ourselves—is our joy.”
The theme I see in these two quotes is that to truly love those in our homes, we need to think more about them, or about the whole family unit, than ourselves individually. Lately, there has been quite a bit of contention in our home, mostly from the children fighting a lot. Jad and I thought and prayed about what to do, and we realized the issue was that the children were often more concerned with getting what they wanted than serving each other. We have been encouraging them to put each other first and make each other happy. We will soon be starting a reward system for the children as they do their part to show love and service to everyone in the home.
We can set a good example of love by showing sincere affection often, by spending individual time with each member of the family, by saying “I love you,” regularly, by complimenting, by offering a listening ear, by showing encouragement and congratulations, and by doing loving acts of kindness.
We can’t talk about love at home without mentioning the song, Love at Home. Did you know there is a fourth verse not in the hymn book? It’s my favorite. It goes like this:
Jesus, show Thy mercy mine, Then there’s love at home; Sweetly whisper I am Thine, Then there’s love at home. Source of love, Thy cheering light Far exceeds the sun so bright—Can dispel the gloom of night; Then there’s love at home; Love at home, love at home, Can dispel the gloom of night; Then there’s love at home.
This verse beautifully illustrates how there will be love at home as we receive of Jesus’ mercy, love, and light. We can do this as we display pictures of Jesus in our homes, read our scriptures, pray to Heavenly Father, and make Christ’s atonement a personal part of our lives. If we know who we are, and hold on to our Heavenly family, there will be love and light in our earthly homes.
Compassion – Jesus has asked us to bear one another’s burdens and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
When we live with someone, we get pretty good at discerning their moods, needs, and desires. The best thing we can do is offer a listening ear, a hug, or an act of kindness. In our homes, we must hope for the well-being and safety of all. We should never give up on each other or have an “it serves you right” attitude when things go wrong in life due to misguided choices. Instead, we need to be like the Savior, offering encouragement and compassion when someone falls.
There may be times when a family member has made great mistakes and needs to make changes for their own well-being and for that of the family. We must not abandon our compassion in these circumstances. Andrea Lystrup, marriage and family therapist, said: “Why does compassion need to come before change? Partly because when we’re constantly criticized, our sense of self-worth diminishes, along with the hope that we can improve our lives. When we come to Jesus Christ in our weakness and seek the blessings of His Atonement, does He reply with, “It’s about time” or “While you’re at it, can you change this about yourself too”? Of course not. He meets us with love.”
Let us follow the Savior’s example of compassion in our homes.
Work – In my home, everyone works in some way. We may all have different levels of responsibility, but we all work. Everyone who lives in a home has a responsibility to make that home a clean, orderly place where people would want to dwell. Knowing the value of work and having a desire to be self-reliant, even as a young age, is so essential. In our home, even our youngest, not even three years old, will help clean up her toys, throw things in the trash, and put things away that she has gotten out. The older the kids are, the more responsibilities they have and the more they learn how to do (our kids love to learn new skills). And we as mom and dad? Well, we both work hard to make sure chores are done and that everyone in the home has what they need. We may be exhausted from long days, but as we help each other do the work that needs to be done, we are setting a good example for our kids and acting as equal partners in the household.
Shirley R. Klein, associate professor at BYU, talked about how work, even mundane chores, can lead to even higher virtues. She said that “they give us opportunities to develop and practice character virtues and ethical behavior. By doing these everyday activities, we can learn about moral truths and practice honesty, patience, charity, and brotherly kindness. Everyday work and recreation in the home provide rich contexts for children and adults to make choices and learn from them. For example, a child, a spouse, or even a roommate may choose to contribute in the home by seeing what needs to be done and doing it happily.”
Wholesome Recreational Activities
Elder Stephen W Owen said: “Parents, please build strong relationships with your children. They need more of your time, not less.” This admonition can be said to any member of the household about any relationship.
Did you notice in conference that technology and social media was mentioned so many times? It didn’t surprise me at all. My phone over time has sucked up too much of my time and attention. You can go anywhere and see people engulfed in their phones and ignoring the people around them. I have felt the Spirit witness to me that we must be more present in the lives of those we love, especially at home.
So, let’s put our phones down and make memories! Let’s eat together, play games, do fun traditions, celebrate special occasions, share talents and skills, exercise, be silly, snuggle, talk, listen, play outside, do projects and chores, and invite people over!
Listening to music, reading books, watching movies and TV, and playing video games can also be wholesome recreation, as long as we are careful of the content we allow in our homes. Elder Christofferson said, “much of what passes for entertainment today is coarse, degrading, violent, mind-numbing, and time wasting. Ironically, it sometimes takes hard work to find wholesome leisure.” In our home, we choose carefully what media we allow, and how much time we spend on it because we want to keep the Spirit in our home and we also want our relationships with each other to grow.
I’d like to read a verse of a song I adore, called A Light in the Heart. It goes, A light in the heart is a light in the home. A light in the home is a light in the town. A light in the town is a light in the nation. And light in the nations is light in the world.
This song is simple, but every time I listen to it, I feel the Holy Ghost, and tears fall down my cheeks. It helps me see that the goodness and light that come from one person, from one home, can affect the whole world. I believe this is true. I believe that to change the world, we need to start in the home. If the home is filled with love, sacrifice, spirituality, respect, and service, the people in that home will set the example for others. Then those people who are inspired by that example will help set the example for even more people. It is a cycle that goes on forever. Witnessing kind acts and strong relationships will bring light to some, and then to the world.
I’m so grateful that our homes don’t have to be perfect to be sacred places. I’m grateful the people in them don’t have to be perfect either. We are just asked to do the best we can, and I know that as we do our best to follow the principles outlined in the Proclamation, our homes will be peaceful, safe, and sacred places.