Relief Society Lesson 19: Strengthening Our Families
Introductory note: As a single person, I found this lesson to be a bit of a challenge. However, Chieko Okazaki’s essay titled “Strengthening Every Home,” in her book Disciples, suggests a helpful way of thinking about this topic. She comments:
- “I don’t know the stories of all women, but if we looked at a cross section of women in the Church, we would find a significant number of them to be single—either through divorce, through the death of a husband, or because they have not yet married. Some of them are single moms. Some are grandmothers, and the years of having little children in the home every hour of every day are in the past. But all of them have homes. All of them have families. All of them can be strong individuals and can build homes with strong families.” (p. 81)
1. Why do families matter so much in LDS theology? I like the way in which LDS doctrine counters the notion that salvation is a purely individual affair; it suggests that our relationships with other human beings here aren’t merely a trivial byproduct of mortality, but that they really matter in an eternal sense. Why isn’t enough for individuals to get saved on their own, but we also seal people together?
2. Whether in your current family or your family of origin, what family activities have you most enjoyed?
3. President Kimball talks a lot about the importance of teaching the gospel in a family setting. How do you incorporate religion into a family in a positive way, without making it into something associated with guilt trips, power struggles, etc.?
4. Family relationships can be incredibly rich, but at times they can also be extremely challenging. When you’ve found yourself in a strained relationship with another family member, what have you found helpful in working things out?
5. When members of a family have very different beliefs (whether about religion, politics, behavioral standards, etc.), how do you peacefully co-exist with and support each other?
6. It seems very easy to think about one’s own family in comparison to some hypothetical “ideal Mormon family,” and get discouraged. How do you avoid thinking in those terms, and appreciate and encourage the strengths in your family?
7. President Kimball observes that “the Church can be no healthier than its families.” What do you think are the ingredients of a healthy family?
8. How do you balance time devoted to your immediate family relationships with the need to also be engaged with the broader world, with the human family?