Families Are Anti-Selfishness Therapy

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week we’re covering the Sunday morning session of the October 1988 General Conference.

Three different future Presidents spoke during this session: Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson. It’s possible that a fourth–Dallin H. Oaks–will yet serve in that role. I haven’t run any analysis or anything, but that seems like a pretty huge concentration in just one session. 

The quote that struck me the most came from President Howard W. Hunter’s talk, Blessed from on High. President Hunter made the observation that “it was important to God’s purposes that young Joseph was not able to see too clearly amidst the confusion caused by men, lest that half-light keep him from seeking and beholding the source of all light and all truth.” 

It reminds me of the discussion of weaknesses and strength in Ether 12, but it’s an unexpected application of the idea. Unexpected to me, at least. And it’s always good for me to be reminded that the Lord’s plans don’t always fit my understanding. 

 President Hinckley’s talk, The Healing Power of Christ, also seemed really meaningful for our day: “In a world of sickness and sorrow, of tension and jealousy and greed, there must be much of healing if there is to be life abundant.”

At least, it seemed relevant to the big picture at first, but President Hinckley’s actual topic was more micro than macro: “There is much of another category of sickness among us. I speak of conflicts, quarrels, arguments which are a debilitating disease particularly afflicting families.” 

President Hinckley goes on to say that:

It is selfishness which is the cause of most of our misery. It is as a cankering disease. The healing power of Christ, found in the doctrine of going the second mile, would do wonders to still argument and accusation, fault-finding and evil speaking.

This is definitely true for me. The obligations that come with being a husband and a father chafe against my desire to just do what I want and to just put my goals and priorities first. It’s hard to set those aside and realize that I have children who depend on me and a wonderful wife who agreed to share a life with me. I fail a lot, and end up doing less than I could for them because I want to chase my own happiness.

That’s one of the whole reasons we have families. To give us the opportunity to outgrow that kind of selfishness. To provide opportunities for daily, small-scale sacrifice again and again. To help us learn that it truly is in losing ourselves and serving others that we find real peace and joy.

I’m just kind of dumb, and so it’s a lesson I have to learn a hundred thousand times before it sinks in.

I’m grateful for President Hinckley’s reminder to keep working and focusing on that, because I know my family depends on me, just as I also need them.

Another post from this week’s General Conference Odyssey:

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