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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life as a Teenager

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I can’t believe my brother has finally found the women he’s going to spend all eternity with! Not to put any pressure on you, but our dear, beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley once said that “the most important decision of your life will be the individual whom you choose to marry… make sure that it is with the right person, in the right place, at the right time.” He continued in His counsel about this “extremely important” decision by giving a step-by-step process to follow. I strongly encourage you to apply this process in your own life. First, live worthy of inspiration. If you want the Lord’s help in this crucial decision you must be living the standards of the church. Second, you must exercise agency and inspiration. “We’re supposed to learn correct principles and then govern ourselves. We make our own choices and then we present the matter to the Lord and get his approving, ratifying seal.” Third, ask in faith. Believe, whole-heartedly, that the Lord will answer your sincere petition; He will never lead you astray. Fourth, seek multiple witnesses. In D&C 68, we are taught that “… in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Fifth, discern between inspiration, infatuation and desperation. Inspiration comes when one is living worthily and is seeking the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Infatuation is characterized by “immature love, such as anxiety, possessiveness, selfishness, clinging, and over-dependence.” Pressure from peers, family, and culture create a sense of desperation that leads to a quick, hasty, and unwise decision. Lastly, the confirmation should be sought out by both individuals. If it is true revelation, both will know and feel that it is right. Obviously, you and your fianc�e have experienced many of these guidelines and know for certain that the next step in your relationship is marriage.


ENGAGEMENT SECTION


Make sure that your engagement period is “long enough to make all necessary plans for the wedding and all that surrounds it, but not so long as to create undue stress on the two of you and your desire to become as husband and wife.” Don’t forget the spiritual. Elder Kofford counseled to “remember that your wedding day is not a social experience with a tinge of the spiritual, but rather it is a spiritual experience with a tinge of the social.” The engagement period is also a final chance for you, as a couple, to make sure that the approaching marriage is right. If, by any means, one of you feels persistently sad or troubled by the future marriage, the wise and courageous thing to do would be to discuss breaking up. “There is no dishonor in breaking off an engagement if it becomes clear that the approaching marriage is not right.” Put it in the Lord’s hands, and trust that he will guide you in your decision making.


We are taught that we must become a “right person,” before finding “a right person.” It is my sincere hope that your potential mate and you as well, have developed a deep love for the Lord and for His commandments, and a determination to live them. I hope you both have become someone who is “kind, understanding, forgiving of others, and willing to give of yourself, with a desire to have a family crowned with beautiful children and a commitment to teach them the principles of truth in the home.” I know that you have dedicated your life towards the gospel of Jesus Christ and have lived worthily to enter into the House of our Lord to be sealed to your wife for time and all eternity. Take things slowly, be patient, and have a sense of humor. “As you learn together, draw on your love for and commitment to each other, and laugh together, the adjustments to marriage will be a wonderful and memorable time that you, as a couple, will cherish all your lives.”


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NEWLYWED SECTION


As you embark on your new journey in life, with your eternal companion by your side, here are some words of advice from your younger, smarter, and adorable sister. Remember that the two most important things a couple can do is to save money and stay out of debt. You can’t “live on love.” Be wise and prepare before marriage by taking a class on money management. Parents, married friends, or financial professionals can also be of great help when preparing financially for marriage. Believe me, you’ll be happier later, if you sacrifice a little now. Always keep in mind that “communication is more than the sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally.” “Trusting one’s spouse is an essential part of a righteous marriage. To place complete trust in each other stretches our faith and tests our spiritual courage.” Remember that as husband and wife, you are equal partners. President Boyd K. Packer taught us that “when there is a family decision to be made that affects everyone, you and your wife together will seek whatever counsel you might need, and together you will prayerfully come to a unified decision. If you ever pull priesthood rank on her you will have failed.” The cause and purpose of marriage is to make man and woman one. Looking back, when you and I were growing up, can you ever recall an instance that our mom and dad didn’t make a decision together? I cannot. Every memory that I evoke, is one that mom and dad worked together. Whenever we’d ask one parent a question, they would always respond with, “Let me talk with your mother first, or let me talk with your father first.” That is because “in the home, it is a partnership with husband and wife equally yoked together, sharing in decisions, always working together.” Follow in the footsteps of our beloved parents; they set a wonderful example.


Focus on the admirable qualities of your spouse. This can create “a positive overflow of good feelings that enables the resolution of disagreements during the strains of common family life.” Become “closely familiar with her world- her favorite movies, deep-hidden fears, colleagues, friends, enemies, memories, etc.” Remember that you needn’t solve every conflict that arises in order to have a successful marriage, but you do need to make the problems less painful by being more forgiving, and more patient. “Positive thoughts and feelings about each other, as well as an understanding of the other’s deep-seated needs and goals, help to diminish the intensity of perpetual problems.” Agree on your marriages’ strengths and weaknesses, and acquire an intimate understanding of one another, defend each other, and respect each other’s opinions and choices.


STRENGTH BUILDING/BENEFITS SECTION


Marriage not only provides a long-lasting happiness, it also contributes to physical health, mental health, economical, and sexual benefits. “Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club.” Marriage is just as good for the body as it is for the mind. Research shows that “getting and staying married is a wise economic move, for married couples are wealthier and spend less.” “Faithfully married couples have reported being well-satisfied with their sex lives, because sex cannot be successful when it has to be approached with the same caution exhibited in handling toxic waste.”


Ryan, I encourage you to accept chastity and fidelity as “inescapable starting points for high-quality marriage and family relationships.” Chastity, fidelity, and intimacy are expressions of social, emotional, spiritual, and familial commitments and feelings. To honor one of these is to live all of them. “Without fully giving your heart to your spouse, you do not qualify yourself for the blessings available to you when your mate gives her whole heart to you.” A key feature of fidelity in marriage is chastity. That is, “marriage partners not only refrain from sexual thoughts and desires regarding others, but their own relationship is not tinged by self-centered, lustful initiatives.” Nothing threatens the purpose of marriage and family like infidelity. Stay clean. Stay pure. Stay true.


Of course one of the great blessings of an eternal marriage includes an eternal family. As a father, you’ll have many important responsibilities and obligations to fulfill, the first being to preside in love and righteousness. President Benson educated fathers that, “As the patriarch in your home, you have a serious responsibility to assume leadership in working with your children. You must help create a home where the Spirit of the Lord can abide… Your homes should be havens of peace and joy for your family- especially a priesthood father.” Being a righteous father involves learning the needs of the members in your family, extending the blessings of the priesthood to them, leading family members in prayer, scripture study, family home evening, and other family devotional activities. He, a righteous father, “blesses, teaches, counsels, prays for and with, and seeks revelation to help family members with their choices and challenges. You should give your all to bless your family, as Christ gave His all for our eternal welfare.” Secondly, you are accountable to provide the necessities of life. In D&C 758, we are taught that “every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown.” But be careful, for President Spencer W. Kimball warns, “some fathers spend so much time providing for things far beyond the necessities of life that they have little time to preside in love and righteousness.” Not only are you required to provide the necessities of life for your family, but you are also liable to provide protection. By obeying the words of our past prophet, President Howard W. Hunter, you, being a righteous father, will protect your children with your “time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities.” Additionally, President Hunter adds that “A man who holds the priesthood leads his family in Church participation so they will know the gospel and be under the protection of the covenants and ordinances.” Physical protection is important as well. You can fulfill this responsibility by providing the family with a home in a safe neighborhood and teaching your children to be safe in various situations. Most importantly, you must follow the example of our Heavenly Father. Love your children unconditionally; let them know that you are proud of them. Show them that you care and that your heart is turned to them by being anxiously engaged with them-especially at important times and events in their lives. But remember, “regardless of where you stand in your ability to preside joyfully in love and righteousness and to provide the family with temporal and spiritual blessings, you can ALWAYS progress.” With the help of Heavenly Father, “you can leave more of a parental legacy than you’d ever suppose.”


In return, your wife has the divine responsibility to nurture your children. She not only needs to “oversee the physical growth of each child, but also needs to guide your children’s full development during this mortal experience.” Motherhood is a “holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plan.” A pressure that can distract a mother from nurturing her children is materialism. President Hinckley and other Church leaders have cautioned Latter-day Saints about materialism and have counseled us to “avoid it by not confusing needs with wants, not spoiling children with excessive spending and by living modestly, avoiding unnecessary debt, being generous, and sharing our surplus with others.” You, as a supporting husband and loving father, need to demand that your children love, respect, and honor their mother, for her work is the work of salvation. “There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother.”


Ultimately Ryan, I want you to know that I have a firm testimony that marriage is ordained of God. It is truly a deep source of joy, for “an enduring, happy marriage means a happy life.” An eternal marriage, one which you are ready to embark upon, is a step towards the salvation of your soul, a step towards your everlasting happiness in the presence of our Heavenly Father and elder brother, Jesus Christ. As your sister, I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch you become an amazing man; one that I know will make an incredible father. Continue in your virtuous path and I promise that the Lord will bless you as you stumble along the bumps and cracks that life will bring your way. Remember the precious, sacred covenants that you make in the Temple and keep them for eternity. The purpose and meaning of life is Family, never allow worldly things and/or possessions interfere with your relationship with your eternal family. “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” I want you to know that I am proud of you for the decisions you’ve made. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help. I love you and congratulations on your engagement. I’m sure that she is a lovely woman and treats you with the respect and admiration that you deserve. Love her unconditionally, and serve her completely. Best of luck to the two of you as you start your new journey together in life.


Love your eternal sister,


Ashley Merie


ENGAGED SIBLING LETTER


(MOVE FORWARD WITH FAITH)


ASHLEY RIDLEY


FAMILY LIFE


DR. CARROLL


OCTOBER , 00








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