Ah, a child filled with joy with his scriptures open! Is that how your home looks? No? Don’t you sometimes wish it would or think it should? In truth, what I hear from many of you is that you feel overwhelmed by the responsibility to teach your children the gospel at home.
As a Latter-day Saint woman, whose husband has left the church, you are the only one teaching and living the gospel in your home to start with, and now you are being asked to have a home-centered church and take more responsibility for helping your children and youth set and reach goals.
You already feel like you can’t have the gospel in your home the way you wish. For many of you, your husband thinks you are stealing time from him and the family when you do something church-related. You don’t know when to do your personal scripture study much less involve the children in the Come, Follow Me program. You are always walking the line between living the gospel the way you want and keeping peace in your marriage, which you also consider a high gospel priority.
You feel justified in your overwhelm. I get it.
After all, you are the one responsible for:
Your personal gospel study and prayer
Going to the temple on your own
Doing your ministering
Following through with whatever other callings you have in the ward
Being the buffer between your husband and the church
Listening to his complaints and deciding when to share your thoughts and when not to engage
Getting the kids to church every week
Holding Family Home Evening
Implementing the Come, Follow Me program
And now adjusting to and supporting the new programs for children and youth
You have a lot on your plate.
I bet you wish you didn’t feel overwhelmed, though. It doesn’t feel that great. To me, it feels like spinning in my head and tightness in my chest and shoulders. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? If you are like me you probably stress out in your mind, think of all the ways it could work (but most likely won’t), do anything else – sleep, eat, watch Netflix, maybe even do something productive like laundry or dishes – just to avoid facing the overwhelming problem. Unfortunately, despite the energy those efforts take, they don’t get you any closer to teaching your children the gospel in your home.
What if you could have all the same things on your plate and not feel overwhelmed. Would that be cool?
As we just said, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t lead us to take the actions needed, so what will? Can you imagine how you would feel if you were taking actions to get you close to your goal?
What if you were:
Praying for Inspiration
Opening the Come, Follow Me manual and looking at it
Reading one verse of scripture to your children
Praying with your children
Asking your youth what they think of the new programs
Singing primary songs as lullabies to your little ones
Asking your children what goals they are considering in each of the areas for the upcoming year
Choosing a time that you could do a few minutes of gospel teaching each week – even if it’s in the car with your kids, so it doesn’t bug your spouse
What if you were taking action? How would you feel? Motivated? Proud? Excited? Faithful? Committed? (Did you feel the shift in your body even just thinking those words? I did.) What if you could feel that now?
In that split second, you thought something new. You thought, “I am taking action to teach my children the gospel,” and your whole feeling changed as you imagined that reality.
Your old thoughts were along the lines of
“This is too much.”
“I can’t do this successfully.”
“If they knew my situation, they would know this is impossible.”
“I can’t do this.”
But as soon as you changed, your thought to, “I am doing this,” your feeling changed immediately. What was that new feeling? The new feeling – motivated, proud, excited, committed, whatever it was for you – it wasn’t overwhelm. That is the feeling that will lead you to take action.
You get to choose that feeling. You just did it by simply changing your thought for a minute. Choose a thought that creates that feeling for you. Here are some suggestions:
“I am doing this.”
“I find everyday moments to teach my children the gospel.”
“God will help me do what he asked me to do.”
“Even when I can’t see how it will work, I follow the prophet’s counsel.”
“I do my part to create a gospel center home.”
Those thoughts are more useful. While it may be true that you still have all the things listed at the beginning to do, and feeling overwhelmed might be justified – it isn’t useful. Choose more useful thoughts. Choose thoughts that create what you want in life.
Your challenge is to try this for a week. I know you feel overwhelmed. I know you often doubt yourself. But I also know that you have faith. I know that you are doing your best to live the gospel as you understand it. I know that you can choose to trust God and trust yourself. You can take actions adapted to your situation to have a more gospel-centered environment for yourself and your children.
I don’t remember specifically what my parents taught at Family Home Evening. I just know we had it every week. That example was enough, and each little drop of whatever they taught each week lead towards my ability to have faith and live the gospel.
In the same way, doing what you can will be enough. Just keep going and don’t give up. Like any habit, it’s easier to keep it going than to stop and start again. Choose the feeling that will override your overwhelm and allow you to take action each day to create a home of gospel learning.