Preparing hearts

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday Afternoon Session of the April 1990 Conference.
I have felt sad lately as I think about the struggles of friends and family members in their marriages and families. Life can be so hard! I don't know if there are more people struggling right now, or if it's just one of those instances of seeing something and then noticing more of it, but everywhere I look, it seems like marriages are faltering and relationships that once seemed strong have become strained. When a relationship is difficult, it's so hard to look back and see the good in it—but it seems important to believe that the good existed; that the happiness—whatever amount of it there was—was real and meaningful, even if it wasn't permanent.

As I've been thinking about marriage, and the relationships I'm forming now with my children—and also my hopes for them in their eventual marriages and with their children, I really liked H. Burke Petersen's advice:
We cannot force love and respect and admiration.

We cannot force faith and testimony of truth.

Even though we cannot force those things that matter most, there are ways we can help one another. That is, we can prepare hearts to obtain a deep and abiding testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world… 
If your home is a home where family members are loved unconditionally, regardless of behavior, then your home will have a spirit of warmth that will prepare the heart to receive the testimony of truth. 
Now, you may think, “I would like to love my family and friends and neighbors unconditionally, but sometimes it is extremely difficult. How can I learn to feel that pure love?”…
First, look for the good in each person, and mention it in a sincere and consistent way. It is amazing how hearts can be softened, testimonies implanted, and relationships improved when we begin to give a daily portion of heartfelt appreciation. It has a marvelous effect on preparing the spirit. Even mentioning a little thing will have a positive effect. It usually isn’t earth-shaking—just a simple act or attribute that will blossom and be multiplied if it is noticed.… 
Another way of preparing the heart of someone is to create an atmosphere where judging is held in reserve until anger has subsided, until the hurt has dissipated, until all sides of an issue have been explored. Criticism is a destroyer of self-worth and esteem. It is demeaning and cutting.
…Any individual in a position to influence another realizes that the power to influence others for good comes through love and praise and patience. In relationships where there is forgetting and forgiving, joy and trust are nurtured. 
As you develop your capacity to love unconditionally, remember that listening is a part of showing love. If your home is a home where children are listened to, even when what they say doesn’t seem important or you don’t feel you have time, then you are preparing hearts…Remember, you can listen to understand, not necessarily to agree. Ofttimes we do our best teaching when we listen. Husband-and-wife relationships are nourished and strengthened as we listen to each other more. Hearts are softened. 
Even though I can think of plenty of other people who need to follow this advice (ha ha) the one who needs it most is ME! I can't think of any relationship that wouldn't be improved if I could strengthen in all these attributes in myself.

Other posts in this series:

There is a way back—Nathaniel Givens

No comments

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top