“My parents are divorced, and sometimes I feel like we aren’t a ‘real’ LDS family because we can’t be sealed in the temple. I’m beginning to feel alienated from the Church. How can I deal with these feelings?”
All families have challenges; all are welcome at church.
Set a goal to marry in the temple one day.
Live the gospel so you can have all of its blessings.
Learn from your family and love them.
Be hopeful and try to grow closer to the Lord through this trial.
Every Latter-day Saint family is different. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. And each is welcome in the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for the perfecting of the Saints, not for perfect Saints. Here are some suggestions to help you with this challenge:
Learn from your family, and prepare for your future family. With all of our imperfections, we cannot have perfect families now. But you can learn from your family’s strengths and weaknesses. Decide now what kind of family you want when you get married. Look forward to and prepare for an eternal marriage by making the right choices today.
Live the gospel. Do all you can to make your home a place where the Spirit can dwell. One way to do that is by honoring your parents. Even though they are divorced, they are still your parents—they gave you the gift of life—and they deserve your love.
As you try to live the gospel, the Holy Ghost will comfort you, and the Atonement will strengthen you. The Savior atoned so we can have every blessing available to us if we are righteous. That includes the blessing of eternal families.
Your parents’ divorce won’t determine your eternal future. Your personal worthiness does. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “[The Lord] will make possible all you qualify in worthiness to receive. Do not be discouraged. Living a pattern of life as close as possible to the ideal will provide much happiness, great satisfaction, and impressive growth while here on earth regardless of your current life circumstances” (“First Things First,” Liahona, July 2001, 7; Ensign, May 2001, 7).
Be hopeful. When you have family problems, it is easy to feel sad. But remember that this challenge, like any trial, can teach you some important lessons and help you grow spiritually and emotionally. You can feel hope as you pray and plan for the day when your future children can enjoy the blessings of an eternal family.
The Lord designed the family for our benefit. Our families can help strengthen and guide us. Learn to love and appreciate your family. The Lord loves your family—with its unique challenges and gifts. Your experiences with them will teach you much that will benefit you not only in this life but in the eternities to come.
My parents were divorced for several years and thankfully got married again, but during that time I felt much the way you described in your question. I prayed to Heavenly Father for strength and comfort. Through this experience I’ve learned to turn to and trust Heavenly Father, for He knows what is best. I’ve also learned to pray with an open heart when I have troubles and questions. When I finish praying I read my scriptures, for I might come to a chapter with the answer I need. When you have those feelings of alienation, try reading the scriptures and praying for guidance. Marie P., 13, Arizona, USA
I also had that same feeling when my parents separated, but I overcame it. Just think that no matter what happens, Jesus is there to comfort you. He’s always there to guide us to the right path and make us feel that we are loved. When you feel that, you will feel great about being a member of the Church. Think of what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want you to be, and by that you can be strong. Robert S., 15, Philippines
One of the ways to deal with these feelings is with the help of Church leaders and friends. Your leaders can help you spiritually, and your friends can help you understand that this isn’t the end of the world but rather an incentive to try and help your family be more united. It is good to know that nothing happens by chance and that everything has a purpose in life and that God has an eternal love for us. Juan B., 17, Brazil
Despite the trials that your family and parents have faced, remember that you will be accountable for your own actions in life, not those of your parents. Find comfort in knowing that one day you can get married in the temple. Don’t feel like an outcast, but instead feel proud to be a member of the true Church. If you can’t set aside your feelings of alienation, read Doctrine and Covenants 68:6. Judith O., 14, Maryland, USA
Let not your parents’ divorce discourage you or make you feel like a stranger in the Church, whether your family is sealed in the temple or not. The most important thing you should do is to keep the faith and avoid the factors that led to the divorce of your parents so that you can be sealed in the holy temple. Alexander H., 20, Nigeria
I grew up with divorced parents. My father was in a different branch than us, and my mother could not attend church because of her work schedule. My sister and I came to church alone. This was difficult, and it felt odd, but we continued to come. If you will hold to your testimony and keep the commandments, your life will be blessed. If you pray and seek to keep the Spirit in your heart, you will be able to overcome the trials in this life. In the end, you will be rewarded. Jess D., 18, Nevada, USA
The feeling of not belonging within the Church is not of God since His Church is for all His children who believe in it, notwithstanding their situation. Exclusion has no place in the Church because everybody is accepted. It isn’t easy to face a family situation like this, but the gospel offers hope and a positive perspective for each situation that we confront. Set worthy goals now, and begin to prepare yourself for when you create your own family and can establish eternal bonds. Ixchel C., 23, Mexico
“How can I strengthen my testimony to make sure I stay true to the gospel?”
Send us your answer, along with your name, birth date, ward and stake (or branch and district), and photograph (including your parent’s written permission to print the photo) to:
Please respond by January 15, 2007.