Latter-day Saint Life

Sister Holland on why we shouldn’t stress when our life or family isn’t the ideal


The following is an excerpt from Elder and Sister Holland's book, On Earth as It Is in Heaven.

With the increasing pressures we face almost every day, it is very hard not to feel overwhelmed. We read of Iran and China and Russia, of high prices and hostilities and energy problems. And we read of families in trouble. We ask ourselves, "Can it be done? Can we raise a righteous family in such an increasingly difficult world?" We search for answers everywhere in psychology books and child development courses and even Erma Bombeck. We run ourselves ragged in car pools. We want straight A's and straight teeth. We panic that we're doing too much for our children and then get an Excedrin headache worrying that we're not doing enough. We even get caught in the crunch of choosing priorities between family duties and church callings—and both need our loyalty and devotion. . . .

The problem isn't just this list of challenges, but that we have to face them along with the fear of graying hair, bulging tummies, and sagging energy. Occasionally we as parents would like to run away from home too—but we can't get the keys to the car.

The Pressures of a Perfect Home

Humor aside, we know how serious our task is. We are, after all, the generation raised on the admonition, "No other success in life can compensate for failure in the home." The weight of that statement oftentimes seems more than we can bear. But I've decided that anything very important is weighty and difficult. Perhaps the Lord designed it that way so we would cherish and retain and magnify treasures that matter the most. Like the seeker in the parable, we too must be willing to go and sell all that we have for those pearls of great price. Our families, along with our testimonies and loyalty to the Lord, are the most prized of all such pearls. I think you'll agree they are worth some agony and anxiety. To have it all go along easily might mislead us in time and leave us ill-prepared for eternity.

I also believe that with the task is given the talent. Like Nephi, I do not believe God will ask us to do this most important thing without preparing the way for us to accomplish it. These are his children too, and we must never forget that fact in joy or sorrow. We have additional parental help through the veil. We are able to say with the angels, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14.) I have taken great comfort in that scripture over the years. It is a family-oriented scripture. It is the scripture at the heart of everything we now call the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In our early married life, it appeared as if I too, like Sarah, would be barren. My doctor told us that there was a good chance we would have no children. But in my heart I felt otherwise, and I remembered Sarah. Is anything too hard for the Lord? No, not if their names are Matthew, Mary Alice, and David.

Is it too hard to conceive them or bear them or nurse them or comfort them or teach them or clothe them or wait up for them or be patient with them or cry over them or love them? No, not if these are God's children as well as ours. Not if we remember those maternal stirrings that are, I suppose, the strongest natural affections in the world. President David O. McKay said once that the nearest thing to Christ's love for mankind was a mother's love for her child. Everything I have felt since June 7, 1966, tells me he was right.

When Our Life Isn't Ideal

When troubles come—and they will; when challenges mount—and they will; when evil abounds and we fear for our children's lives, we can think of the covenant and promise given to Abraham, and especially think of Sarah. And with the angels we can repeat the question, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

If you think circumstances in your life are not ideal, take heart. I'm beginning to wonder if circumstances ever are ideal. Let me use my own life as an example.

Because of various educational and professional assignments that have come to us, we have moved some fifteen times in our marriage. When the children started to come, those moves were an increasing concern to me. I worried about their adjusting and settling in and finding friends. Their emotional safety through our very busy lives has caused me a great deal of concern. . . .

We were very busy during those years. We were living in the mission field, which required that our service to our ward be greater than usual. I was called to serve as Relief Society president, Sunday School chorister, and Laurel adviser. I also worried that these demands were robbing me of close mother-child nurturing with my infant daughter. For years afterward I believed that every moment of colic or croup in her life somehow stemmed from that period. My guilt, real or imagined, was immense.

With time and perspective I can see now that because of my concerns I probably worked overtime to compensate for all losses. This daughter has now developed into a young woman with great self-confidence. She is very much at home with herself and with me. Ours is one of the most rewarding mother-daughter relationships I know of. . . .

So it seems to me that Shaw was right. You don't simply yield to circumstances; you shape and use them for your own best purposes. Circumstances are seldom ideal, but our ideals can prevail, especially where they affect home and children.

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