Kyrie Elaison by Soichi Watanabe
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Introduction: As with any lesson that focuses on parenthood or marriage, it may be helpful to remind the class that these lessons can be difficult for those who do not have children, whose children have left the Church, or whose families do not represent the “norm” of LDS culture. Let us keep these things in mind as we discuss a sensitive topic and remember to extend love and grace to all of our sisters in the class and their families. Song suggestion: Teach me to Walk in the Light Opening question: Think of the families you have known, either in or out of the Church, that seem truly happy. What are some of the characteristics you note that are common among those families? I would share that all of the families I have known, the ones who seem sincerely happy are the ones where love and grace are extended unconditionally, where the children know that they are always welcomed and wanted, even when they make mistakes. I would share the story of the prodigal son and the father who welcomed his son back with open arms, even after the son had done much that likely displeased him. I would also share this section of a talk given by Elder Jack H. Goaslind, Jr:
“A good friend shared this story about how she learned the deeper meaning of love. Their family has always been active in the Church, trying their best to live the commandments. They were shocked and disappointed, however, when the daughter became engaged to a nonmember. The next day the mother was telling a good friend about her feelings. She knew her daughter’s fiance was a fine young man, but she felt angry, hurt, betrayed, and numb and did not want to give her daughter a wedding or even see her. She said that the Lord must have guided her to talk to her friend because she received this reply:
“‘What kind of mother are you that you only love her when she does what you want her to do? That is selfish, self-centered, qualified love. It’s easy to love our children when they are god; but when they make mistakes, they need our love even more. We should love and care for them no matter what they do. It doesn’t mena we condone or approve of the errors, but we help, not condemn; love, not hate; forgive, not judge. We build them up rather than tear them down; we lead them, not desert them. We love when they are most unloveable…” “With tears streaming down her face, the mother asked her friend how she could ever thank her. The friend answered, ‘Do it for someone else when the need arises. Someone did it for me, and I will be eternally grateful.’” (April 1981)
I find it interesting that study after study has shown that it is children who *feel* loved and cherished exactly as they are, are the ones who thrive throughout life. Our responsibility is to not just love our children, but to express our love in ways they understand and recognize, regardless of their decisions or mistakes.