by Kari Diane Pike
"Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing and that love of work is success." ~ David O. McKay
I came across this quote the other day while studying the Proclamation on the Family. Did you know that Brigham Young University has produced two textbooks based solely on the study of the Proclamation? The course that uses those textbooks is now a required GE credit for graduation from BYU. As I study these texts, I almost wish I could go back and start my family all over again, just so that I could "do it better." I had a discussion about "do-overs" with my twelve-year-old son just the other day...but that is a topic for another blog. Today I want to share some thoughts about work and intentionality.
I didn't even know "intentionality" was a word until I read it in the aforementioned textbooks. Interestingly enough, over the next several days, I came across the words "intentional," "intention", and even "intentionality" several times. There are a ton of references to "intention" in the Topical Guide of our scriptures. I don't know about you, but when a concept comes to my attention more than once or twice in a short period of time, I get the feeling that someone is trying to teach me something. (I hear you laughing Theresa...and yes, I do have very patient angels watching over me. That's yet another blog.)
Moving to a new community with a different culture and climate created a set of challenges I did not anticipate. After a very stressful year of playing "single parent Relief Society president" I looked forward to the respite of being with my husband in a new ward that had so many active members that they had to create callings like "Relief Society Birthday phone caller--names A through L." Since the move occurred right at the beginning of harvest season, we were quickly involved in all sorts of gardening activities. By the time we finished, the holidays appeared. Then came January. Gloomy, snowy, cold January. The vibrant colors of summer and fall framed by my picture windows faded to shades of black and white and gray. The simple tasks of caring for my family became mundane and cheerless. My children grew more contentious, and I let thoughts of inadequacy and failure overwhelm me. That's when I opened my textbook to the chapter: The Meaning and Blessing of Family Work. The Proclamation lists "Work" as one of the principles on which "successful marriages and families are established and maintained," in the same context as prayer, faith, and repentance. Amazing.
When we read Moses 4:2-3 about how God cursed the ground to bring forth thorns and thistles, we also read "cursed shall be the ground for thy sake." The hard work of eating bread "by the sweat of thy face" was meant to be a blessing! Family work links people together by providing the opportunity to recognize and fulfill the needs of others. Heavenly Father created families. Families are sacred. That means every simple and mundane task that we perform to take care of ourselves and our families is sacred. Okay...so here is where I get back to that word "intentionality." (I hope.)
Natural laws teach us that if we just sit around and do nothing, things around us will fall into a state of entropy, from order to chaos. We have the privilege, the gift even, of intentionally doing what we can to create order in our home and with our families. An "intentional family" (a phrase coined by scholar William Doherty) is more than clean dishes, however. The members of an intentional family feel loved and safe. Sister Beck recently mentioned the need for us to be more intentional. So did Elder Scott. Ar first, I felt despair when I heard that. It just seemed like more hard work. But seeing and feeling the sacredness of each and every task has brought pure light back into my heart and the vision of a full spectrum of opportunities that will help my family transform spiritually as we transform our lives physically.
President Hinckley said:
" The observance of four simple things on the part of parents would in a generation or two turn our societies around in terms of their moral values.
They are simply these: Let parents and children (1) teach and learn goodness together, (2) work together, (3) read good books together, and (4) pray together." (School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, edited by David C. Dollahite, (2000) Strengthening Our Families: An In-depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book) 177)
Oh...and that mention of do-overs...Never mind! I came across a paragraph in the text that made reference to Doctrine and Covenants 117:13 -- "...and when he falls, he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord." In the Lord's sight, effort is sacred. "No matter the outcome of our sincere efforts, the Lord blesses us for trying." (oh yeah! The Atonement!) (School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, Edited by Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, Elaine Walton, and David C. Dollahite, (2005) Helping and Healing Our Families: Principles and Practices Inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation To The World," (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book) 155.)
My next goal is to apply the concept of intentionality to my writing. Who knows...I might even get my book finished. It could happen!