I have been heartsick these past few weeks with all the vitriol, anger, and senseless choices of so many. I am saddened by the loss of life in so many settings despite the circumstances. We certainly live in very troubled times. When this all began, it reminded me of the turmoil that rocked 1968, particularly around the political party conventions. At that time, there were differing viewpoints on who was justified in their actions and who was not. This is also the case today. Folks....no matter what.....no matter who.....no matter when.....this senselessness is just that--SENSELESS!.
I will not engage in a diatribe of who is right and who is wrong....that is a wormhole that many will be willing jump into with you. Instead, I choose to share or remind, (what ever is the case with you and your family), that your family and family members are more precious than anything you own, do or say or in life.
This seems so very basic, but as you hear reports from various venues, too many do not appear to put their family as their priority and protect them with all the resources that they may have had at their disposal. We see family's outcries when they learn of the death of a loved one in a heated incident, (with too many who are and were so young). We see individuals claiming to have relationships with folks in the news (either dead or alive) to garner favor, funds, or fame. As noted above....THIS IS SENSELESS....
In talking with colleagues, customers, and friends there is a sense of sadness, despair, and hopelessness. "How could we be in this position?" "Who finds these terrible outcomes worth the choice?" These and many other questions fall from the lips of concerned citizens, neighbors, friends, and family members.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)
When I was very young, my parents moved our family to the Midwest, to a State that had recently experienced rioting and unrest. My childhood friends, concerned for me, told me that they thought we were all going to be hurt. Some adults's opinions and statements including gloomy outcomes for our family in a spiritual sense. It scared me initially, but because of the choices of my parents, I felt calm and peace even when new situations did arise that I had never been exposed to before.
But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come. (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23)
There are many categories of 'preparation'. One category that I feel often is not even given lip service is Spiritual Preparation. In my view, this is probably the important and needful area to have incorporated even before attempting educational, professional, and other areas. It is the all-encompassing umbrella for all the Son's and Daughter's of our Heavenly Father, despite the circumstances that we may have been born and raised in.
When my parents made the decision to go, as I indicated before, so may of our neighbors and friends had cautious and discouraging words. However, my Grandmother looked at our Parents and our family and said "Whatever is best for you is best for us". We would no longer be within a 2 hour drive, it would be one or more flights for our Grandparents to see us. No longer would I be in the majority in my community when it came to religious beliefs. I personally was challenged, and am now grateful for the test. Instead of following the majority, I had to learn, pray and decide for myself who our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were...and if they were real.
Our Family Spiritually prepared with daily prayer held morning and night. We met as a family each Monday night to spend time together. These evenings often included religious instruction, but many were just doing fun things together. These were spiritual and emotional building experiences. Scripture study was encouraged, and attendance in a religious class outside of our Sunday Service was also valued. Each experience, each morsel, each spiritual prompting were the building blocks for me and my siblings to handle the blessings and hardships of life while we were young and well into our adult years.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. (2 Nephi 31:20)
My Parents, siblings and their spouses recently gathered together to celebrate a major life milestone. We spend several days together. One evening, during dinner, I looked around at each face sitting at the table. I reflected upon how much I had admired each one. My Sisters and Parents have chosen to remain faithful in their religious convictions. All of my Brother-in-laws had bravely made a decision in their young lives to seek Spiritual guidance and change their lives in order to be in the service of Heavenly Father. In particular, my husband, at the age of 12 was attending different faiths attempting to feed his Spirit. I find this so impressive for one so young.
Our Family has endured much. There have been job loses, serious health issues, challenges with family members, and more. But it is just as important to list and count our blessings. For example, one of my siblings recently emerged from an episode with Cancer. I am so grateful for these good people.
I share this with you to help you understand the phrase "No Empty Chairs". My Parents (my Father in particular) would often use this phrase. The phrase means that we are so precious to our Parents, that they desire that as a family, we live our lives in such a way that when this life is over we will live together. This is a great blessing that is available to all of Heavenly Father's children.
As a momento of our recent family time together, one of my siblings had both the necklace and engraved pocketknives prepared for each of us. It was one of the culminating events of the time we spent together and a reminder to seek for spiritual things and be sensitive to promptings to serve.
It is now my charge to continue to love and encourage my children and grandchildren to become increasingly prepared in Spirit. My children have experienced life-altering challenges. Most have weathered the storm well...some have hidden battle scars (as do we all) that still are stumbling blocks for them. It is my wish that they, and all of us, can be hopeful amidst the chaos in life. It is my hope and prayer that "There are No Empty Chairs" in my family or in any family when we have all finished our earthly missions.
The Lord has given us a reassuring message of hope: “Fear not, little flock.” God will wait with “open arms to receive”those who give away their sins and continue in faith, hope, and charity.
And to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in.
Never allow despair to overcome your spirit.
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.
(President Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
"....No Empty Chairs...."