Nurturing Love at Home
Families come in more varieties than flowers in a garden—big, small, tall, not as tall, and everything in between. Our particular variety may look different than what we might think of as the ideal family, but each one has its own beauty, challenges, and unique family culture. We may love spending time with our families or struggle to carry on a conversation; our families may be our best friends, or perhaps we may find ourselves wishing that our family relationships were stronger.
No matter the state of our family relationships, we can always strive to create love at home—to do the small and simple things to nurture our relationships with the people who matter most to us. Living prophets and apostles have reminded us of things we can do to create an environment for love to flourish in our families and homes.
Take the time
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “In family relationships, love is really spelled T-I-M-E.” We make time for what is most important to us, and it can be difficult to realize sometimes that our time doesn’t always go to what we say is most important. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and lose sight of the people that we care most about.
The good news is that building relationships is an ongoing process, and the power is in us to make different choices and take simple, normal opportunities to spend time together. Going to the grocery store? Invite a child or sibling to come along and chat as you walk up and down the aisles. Thinking about Dad? Give him a call for a few minutes to see how he’s doing. Need a break from yard work? Pile everyone in the car and go get an ice cream cone just because. The small efforts may not seem like much, but over days and months and years they provide the nourishment for strong family relationships to grow.
Express your love
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “What is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. … We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown.” Expressing love may be a little uncomfortable if we’re not used to it, but like just about anything, it gets easier with practice. Tell Mom you love her. Tell your son he did a great job on that project. People have different “love languages,” so a pat on the back or a hug or a small token of appreciation might mean more to certain family members than leaving a handwritten note, for example. Paying attention to what kinds of things help each family member feel loved can greatly increase the quality of family relationships.
Even if we perhaps don’t feel a lot of love for a family member at times, Elder David A. Bednar reassures us: “The word love is both a verb and a noun. And I think sometimes we think, ‘Well, I have to have the feeling, the noun, before I start doing love, the verb.’ It works both ways. … The feeling follows love, the verb.” Acts of service and kindness result in increased feelings of joy and love in our families.Seek God’s guidance
According to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Therefore, God does not leave the success of our families to chance. He cares about our families even more than we do, and He is anxious to help and guide us as we build our family relationships and strive to return and live with Him and those we love.
To parents, President Monson said: “Call upon our Heavenly Father for help as you care for [your children’s] needs each day and as you deal with the challenges which inevitably come with parenthood. You need more than your own wisdom in rearing them.” We need more than our own wisdom in the greatest work we can do on earth—that of nurturing eternal family relationships. As we pour out our hearts to God in behalf of those we love, we will feel His hand guiding and strengthening us.
Find joy in the journey
There will always be items on our to-do list that seem important, and when it seems like we are too busy to spend time with loved ones, we can take a moment to remember that our families are what God gave us time for. President Monson said, “Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family.”
Jesus Christ’s Atonement made it possible for us to repent and live with God and our families forever. Because of the Savior, there is always hope for our families. Because of Him, even when we make mistakes and cause hurt, not only can our relationships heal, but they can grow, flourish, and become the source of our greatest joy.