Before February 1997, our family could have been compared to a deep river: on the surface the river appeared calm, but the undercurrents were continually raging.
When any problem arose, I tended to blame my wife. I believed she was the cause of our problems, so I rationalized doing anything I wanted, including looking for a new partner. I didn’t feel my wife had the right to complain about my behavior because I provided for the financial needs of our family.
One day in February, there was a knock on our door in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. When I looked out the window I saw two strangers—young women wearing name tags. I recognized them as Latter-day Saint missionaries. Looking for an opportunity to debate, I had them enter. When I asked them to sit down, I was ready for battle. I was determined they would leave disappointed, so I presented a false front. I pretended to be attentive so I would be prepared to deliver my arguments most effectively. But when it was my turn to speak, I found there was nothing to argue about. I could only agree with what the sisters had said.
The sisters wanted to set up another meeting, and I agreed. When they left, the peace I had enjoyed disappeared, and soon my negative feelings started to return. I dreaded the prospect of meeting with the missionaries. But I kept the appointment, and, with each succeeding visit, I rediscovered values and truths I had discarded in my vain pursuit of success. Each time they left our home, the peace I felt would last longer, and soon I found myself looking forward to their visits.
The missionaries’ teachings, the scriptures, and the reading material they left behind were microscopes with which I began to examine the minute details of my life. I found that I had been scrutinizing only half of my marriage—my wife’s half—and I had chosen to see only the bad in it. With the new opportunity to view my life in the light of Jesus Christ’s teachings, I began to see more clearly the other half of my marriage—my half—and found it in even worse condition.
The proclamation on the family states, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Liahona, October 1998, 24). I rejoice and thank the Lord for giving me the chance to repent. I also thank Him for these sisters who willingly became His instruments so that through our accepting the gospel and living its teachings my family might become like a lake—calm and peaceful throughout, not just on the surface.
Consider the following questions and suggestions to help apply this article in family home evening, in a lesson at church, or in your personal life:
Would you feel comfortable having Jesus Christ observe your family’s interactions? What can you do differently?
What principles of the gospel could help improve your relationships with family members and others? Choose one to work on this week.
Read the proclamation on the family in family home evening and discuss ways to strengthen your relationships. (See “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, October 1998, 24.)