Joseph Smith Lesson 20: A Heart Full of Love and Faith
(1) From the life of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith’s life and experiences must have been profoundly disruptive to his family life. In terms of predictability, security, and financial and social stability, his family circumstances were anything but ideal.
(1) In the church we have ideals about how families should be—parents married in the temple, father working, mother at home full time, both parents active, committed members of the church, and a house full of happy, well-adjusted, obedient children. But many—maybe most—of us aren’t living this life, due to singleness, divorce, widowhood, spousal inactivity, infertility, health problems, unemployment, or other financial difficulties.
How can we develop healthy (not self-punishing) relationships to gospel ideals? How can we focus on the things we can control, such as healthy relationships, love, and respect, rather than on circumstances beyond our control, such as health problems, unemployment, divorce, or military deployment?
(2) How can be build and maintain family routines and traditions even in the face of disruptions such as job loss, separation, military deployment, or divorce? How can we make our homes places of refuge, safety, and solace for children, and for ourselves, even in the face of such uncertainties?
(3) What can we do to strengthen and unite our families when we face disruptions such as job loss, long-term unemployment, long separations due to work or military deployment, or divorce? What have you found helpful in preparing for and facing such challenges?
(4) Joseph Smith was often separated from his children for long periods of time. How can we help husbands and fathers, or wives and mothers, who are living away from home maintain relationships with their spouses and children? How can we help children whose fathers or mothers are physically distant maintain relationships with their parents?
(5) How can we support extended family members, friends, or ward members undergoing financial uncertainty, unemployment, long-term separation, or divorce? If you have undergone such challenges, what kinds of assistance did you find most helpful?
(6) In the church we place a lot of emphasis on family relationships. But people who don’t have immediate family relationships, who don’t have spouses or children, face the same setbacks and challenges (unemployment, health problems, military deployment), and often face them largely alone. How can we include and support people who aren’t living in traditional families?
(2) Family members pray for, comfort, and strengthen one another.
(1) Joseph and Emma used letters to maintain their relationship and comfort each other. How can letters, emails, phone calls, and other contact sustain long-distance family relationships? What kinds of contact have you found particularly helpful in keeping your family close—whether you experience long-term separation or not?
(2) How can we pray for one another in ways that are sustaining and supportive rather than manipulative? (for example, how can we avoid trying to “pray away” someone else’s agency?)
(3)The responsibility to teach our children is always with us.
(1) We hear a lot at church about teaching our children the gospel and what an important responsibility it is. How can we teach our children effectively and avoid preaching, threatening, or other approaches that alienate them? How can we make sure that we’re teaching by the example of our lives, which is of course the most important approach?
(2) What particular challenges do single parents or those separated from their spouses for long periods face in teaching and raising their children? If you are a single parent or separated from your spouse by work or military deployment, what kinds of assistance have you found most helpful in raising your children?
(4) God us our friend, and we can trust Him in our times of adversity.
(1) How has trust in God sustained you during difficult times? How have you been able to maintain and build your faith in God even when you experience hardship?
(2) How can we teach children to find comfort in prayer and a relationship with God when family life becomes difficult or uncertain, or when they face other problems?