Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about an experience he had while visiting refugees in relief centers located in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas after Hurricane Katrina. He said, “Several of the brethren I recently visited where devastated as they began to try to put their lives back together. Their stories and situations are tragic and poignant in many ways, but in all that I heard, what touched me the most was the crying out for family: “Where is my mother?” “I can’t find my son.” “I’ve lost a sister.” These were hungry, frightened people who had lost everything and needed food, medical attention, and help of all kinds, but what they wanted and needed most was their families.”
Trails, crisis, change, or transition of any kind reminds us of what matters most. In every day life, we often get distracted, overwhelmed, or stressed out. Most times, this results in taking our families for granted. Yet, in times of danger and need, there is no question about what we care about most. It is our families. Let us strive to make our families know-on a daily basis-that they are what we care about most.
Being a part of a family is one of the greatest blessings I have been given. My family brings me friendship and joy. They have taught me everything I know and continue to teach me new things. My family supplies me with a loving atmosphere in which I can be myself, make mistakes, and try again. My family members are the most important people in my life. I have been blessed with a communication oriented, extremely close, and strong family. However, such a strong relationship did not form in just one day. Strong families require effort. My family and I must work together daily to become even stronger. We show love for each other each and every day, whether it be in simple acts of kindness or in elaborate ways.
Show your love and admiration for your family members. Many problems in the home may come from family members acting selfishly or speaking unkindly. Seek to be a peacemaker and address what you would like to see different in your home. Be cheerful, helpful, and considerate of other family members as you do so. Your righteous example can make a difference. Your family will be blessed as you do your part to strengthen it.
As a family you must respect each other. Fellow youth, please honor your parents. Give them the respect they deserve. Your parents know what is right for you. Be honest with them and obey them as they lead you in righteousness. Willingly help in your home. The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says “Join your family in family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evenings. Keeping these commandments strengthens and unifies families. If your family does not do these things together, pray and study the scriptures yourself. Your example may encourage your family members to join you.”
Siblings, be grateful for your brothers and sisters. Devote whatever time is necessary to strengthen your relationships with them. They can become your closest friends. Support them in their interests and help them with the challenges they may be facing. The way you love and support your family is critical to your happiness now and in the future.
Do not wait for the times of danger, of loss, or of challenge to strengthen your family. A hurricane or other disaster should not be needed to remind us of what matters most. The gospel, the Lord’s plan of happiness, and life with the ones we love most should remind us on a daily basis. What matters most is what lasts longest, and our families are for eternity. Without a doubt, I know this to be true. I know that time spent with your family is not time wasted; in fact it should be time cherished. I know that families are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. The happiest moments of my life have been spent with my family. I love my family with all my heart and thank God for them every day. The family is what truly matters most.