Sunday, March 22, 2009

SFL 100 Paper #2

Analysis of Family Process and Practices Paper

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)

We, as individuals, each have strengths and weaknesses, the same applies in our families, we have strengths that contribute to our families as a whole, but we also have weaknesses that can control us or contribute to our strength, whether we are an individual or part of a family. I think that at times compassion tends be a weakness for my family.

Last year I was a BYU freshman. I came from a high school of less than 400 students; oftentimes there were not enough books for the students, so we did not have very much homework. Like many new college freshman, I had a hard time in my classes; I felt overwhelmed with my 14 credits and did not know how to study, organize my time, or do my homework. When my siblings would ask how I was doing and I would explain how hard a time I was having or how poorly I had done on a test or paper. I expected that they would respond with compassion, with questions of how they could help. But oftentimes I was met with what I felt was a putdown of my efforts and of me. I know that is not really how my siblings meant their comments to come across. Because I didn’t perceive their comments to be compassionate towards me, I learned to not rely as much on the opinions of my siblings and more on how I felt about my efforts; I learned to trust more in myself and in the Lord. What I had seen as a weakness in my family, allowed me to develop a strength in myself.

The authors of Chapter 12 of Strengthening Our Families wrote, “The family is not the only place where we may learn compassion, but for most of the experience of love and sacrifice in our family life presents the occasions in which we confront the needs of others, and suffer, comfort, and mourn with them.” In my family we most certainly learned compassion in the home; but my parents would be the first to encourage us to exercise compassion with others not in our home. We must conclude from the scriptures that “the compassion approved by heaven involves much of hands-on, ‘getting hands dirty’ effort. The Saviors example prompts us to answer need with personal action- reaching, touching, rubbing shoulders, and sharing tasks.” Whenever someone needed help moving, a blessing, a car ride, someone to listen to them talk, a meal, etc. my parents were often the first ones to step forward and volunteer, even if it meant sacrificing something else to be able to help them. We were taught that we cannot always understand their situation or their choices but that we can be there ready to help.

My mom and I have had many discussions of how my siblings and I often seem to make the friends who need help or who haven’t ever had a good friend. I always call her with my hurt for them and how I wish that I could fix everything for them. “During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not attempt to solve the problems or heal the suffering of the whole world. His Atonement would, in fact, do that, but during His ministry, His hands could reach only so far. But wherever He was, He reached out and touched, listened, and healed.” If we remember who the ultimate example is, and follow Christ, we should reach out, listen, and heal to the best of our ability.

In the past several weeks I have been able to see compassion exhibited as one of my family’s strengths. Several weeks ago I received a phone call from my mom, asking me to get on the family phone call. I quickly called one of my brothers to inform him that mom had some news and that she would like us to call in. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, my dad’s cancer, his brain injury, were they moving to Utah? As soon as we were all on, my mom informed us that the doctor had called that evening. He told her that my dad’s cancer had returned and spread even further, that the cancer was not stoppable and that he would predict that my dad would live for 6-12 months more. Rather than breaking down on the phone, everyone quickly started asking my mom questions: what could they do, when could they come home to visit, did my mom want to move to Utah, etc. It amazed me how strong my family could be, for I was falling apart inside. As soon as the phone call was over I broke into tears, more tears than I had cried since the beginning three years ago. I hadn’t said much on the phone call, within ten minutes my sister called to see if I was ok; I did not feel much up to talking and so did not answer the phone. My sister continued to call me five or six more times, but still I did not answer. She became concerned and called my brother in Salt Lake to see if he had heard from me. No! She called my brother who lives down the street from me and asked him to come check on me.

By this time I had more or less contained and controlled my crying; but when I opened my front door to my brother and he asked me how I was, I broke down again. He led me inside and we sat down on the couch. For a long time my brother just held me. What amazed me the most was that my brother was going through the same situation; it his dad too, but he had the compassion for me, to just hold me and let me cry.

In Strengthening Our Families they discuss Christ’s teachings of the practice of compassion in our individual lives and our families. “First, compassion moves us. It is not passive,” “involves action; the urge to help must produce more than mere sympathy.” My brother, though not the most comfortable with tears wrapped his arms around me and cried with me. “Second, respond with personal and emotional involvement;” my brother felt and shared my pain, he tried to understand what I was feeling and how to help.

My family has its faults, its weaknesses, but it also has its strengths. I hope that in the future I will be able to encourage myself, my family of origin, and my someday family of procreation to humble ourselves so that weak things may become strong unto us. I hope that I can encourage my family to have compassion like unto Christ, compassion that moves us to serve and respond with personal and emotional involvement when we confront the needs of others.

Holman, Thomas B., Larson, Jeffry H., Stahmann, Robert F. (2000). Preparing For An Eternal Marriage, Strengthening Our Family: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family (pp. 174-176). Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company.

1 comment:

  1. Beth, this was inspiring. You did very well. Your mom is have always been an example of how to care for those who have little care given to them. I have always admired that about you.

    I didn't know about your dad's cancer. I'm so sorry it's gotten to where it is. He is a wonderful man full of laughter and light. I pray your family will find strength during this time. You'll be in our family's prayers.