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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Can You Hear Me Now? » Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

David - June 6, 2010

We’re very active in the Church, but mine is not a particularly religious family. That is to say, we’ll find where the sacrament meeting is wherever we’re vacationing, but we don’t quote scripture to each other in conversation, or note how a particular challenge we’re facing reminds us of something Elder Bednar said in a talk (and can even name the title of the talk). Sometimes I feel I should be more gospel-minded, especially for my daughter. She’s 14 now, and maybe the train’s already left the station, because when I do try to talk of spiritual things with her, she gets uncomfortable, and then I stammer, and then the subject sort of limps away behind the sofa to die in peace.

That isn’t to say there aren’t any seedlings germinating in there. When we said goodbye to our last ward almost 2 years ago– the only ward she’d known up to that point– she tearfully told the congregation how she “really, really knew the gospel was true,” and proceeded to give an eloquent, un-Mad Libbed testimony.  She’s not one of those kids who’s just biding her time until she grows up and moves out so she can go inactive. I’ve been around enough of those kids to know that’s not her. She has strong opinions about modesty, morality, behavior and bad language. She attends all the activities and loves going to the temple to do baptisms. She dreams of going to BYU and getting married in the temple (even though she thinks it’s a ripoff she won’t get to walk down the aisle and all that stuff).

She loves to read, but not Church books. She loves music, but nothing gospel-themed. I give her blessings, but she never asks for them. She’s just not religious, and I’m no help.

The teens in our stake are going to Youth Conference this week and we parents were given an assignment to write down our testimonies to our kids and then give them in sealed envelopes to the leaders. D’s heard me bear my testimony before, even directly to her in the privacy of our family home evening. However, part of this exercise requires the girls to read their personally-directed missives to the group out loud. It’ll be like I’m be bearing my soul of spiritual things to her in front of all her friends. I wish I were a fly on the wall.

The good thing about this activity is, I’ll be able to say to her exactly what I’ve always wanted to without losing the wind in my sails because she starts squirming and saying, “I know, Daaaad…” Why do I do that, anyway? Why can’t I just say, “No, sit down. You need to hear this.” I tell myself it’s because she’s really not in a dangerous place, that she’s on track; that if I push the issue, it’ll turn her off on the whole subject. On the other hand, Lehi never shut up about it, even when he was just talking to his golden boy, Nephi. “Dad, check out the dinner I bagged for us!” “Oh Nephi, how I wish the Spirit could bag your brothers as you have bagged that prairie dog. What joy fills my soul whenever I think of the words of our fathers!” “OK, Dad, I’m just going to go and… give this to Mom to… so… OK…”

*sigh*… I’ll never be a Lehi.

Here’s what she’ll be reading to her friends in a few days:

My dear D—,

If I cannot impress anything else upon you as you grow to womanhood, it would be enough for me if you gained a testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, as I did—and as I still do. I know that Christ lives because I have felt the embrace of His spirit. I know He is the Son of God because the Holy Ghost warms my heart with that knowledge when I pray– or when I hear His voice in someone else’s talk or testimony– or when I perform or receive a blessing. I know He loves me because He led me to your beautiful mother, whom I love more than life. And because He has given me you, my wonderful daughter.

I never told you this, but I felt the Spirit so strongly when you bore your testimony, when we were saying goodbye to our old ward. I didn’t realize until that moment what deep beliefs and convictions you had. I guess we really didn’t talk about it. And I have never been more proud of you.

D—, you have so many blessings and so much happiness in store for your future– IF you continue on the path you’re on now. Stay close to the Church. Stay close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study, and living the way you know you should. Always look for ways to help and support and comfort others, and the Savior will be there to help and support and comfort you. He has done this for me, all my life, and I know He will for you. I testify this is true.

There are three things I want you to always remember, wherever you are, whenever you are faced with a challenge, whenever you are feeling sad, or confused, or alone:

1)   You are a child of God.

2)   The Savior loves you and you are NEVER alone.

3)   Your mother and I love you dearly, unconditionally and more than anything—and we are SO proud of you– and that will never, ever change.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I pray she hears what I’m trying to say, that she isn’t overwhelmed with self-consciousness and embarrassment. I also hope I can find more opportunities to convey my beliefs to her without turning her off. It doesn’t seem like living it is enough– I have to keep telling her. She has to know.

But, you see, we’re not a particularly religious family.

6 Comments »

  1. I really really liked that. The whole thing. It reminds me a lot of my father, and how he used to say things to me without all the cheesy Mormon platitudes.

    Comment by brandt — June 7, 2010 @ 5:34 am

  2. This is incredibly beautiful, David, and sums yp the way I feel as well. I have a daughter about the same age so I know what you’re dealing with. I think your approach is just right.

    Comment by MCQ — June 7, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  3. I don’t see that you aren’t religious. You seem religious to me. Your daughter seems religious. Just because she doesn’t like kitschy music or cheesy fiction. That’s a matter of personal taste, not religion.
    Perhaps we have different definitions of what religious means. To me it means that your beliefs are the #1 priority in your life. Not that you spout scriptures in every conversation. It means that you try to follow the commandments and have high moral standards that you adhere to that align with your beliefs, not that you only decorate your house with pictures of the temple and Jesus Christ. It means that you believe in God and have faith in him, and that can be personal, you don’t have to tell everyone about it all the time.
    Teenagers feel uncomfortable often when parents get serious. Sex talks are similar.
    I believe we are told to have FHE and family prayer and scripture study so that we CAN have everyday conversations about the gospel. It shouldn’t be reserved for Sundays during church only. So unless you never talk about it and never read scriptures at home and never have FHE and never talk about the gospel at home, I’d think you were religious.
    But I could be wrong. Perhaps you are like my MIL. My daughter wondered why she would want to come to her baptism since she wasn’t a member of the church. She is a member. My daughter just never knew because she has never spoken a word about the gospel or the church. Weird for a Mormon huh? Yup, one of those rare breeds–a Sunday at church only Mormon. Then you go home and never talk about it.
    Are there more of them around? Am I just naive thinking that our religion encourages and succeeds at us being more religious than the 3 hours on Sunday?

    Comment by jks — June 7, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  4. She’s lucky to have you, David. Wonderful post.

    Comment by Brian G. — June 7, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  5. jks, I think David is using the repeated phrase “we’re not a particularly religious family” in a toungue in cheek way. It’s a way of keeping religion from becoming an issue of constant tension while keeping it always present in the background. It’s a nice touch in the post and a very deft touch for dealing with a teenager. Most teenagers are very uncomfortable dealing with serious subjects directly, especially with their parents. You have to play a kind of guerilla warfare, use sneak attacks and be opportunistic. Acting like your family is “not particularly religious” while raising children who attend church, learn the scriptures, know you have a testimony and start to gain one themselves, well, that’s just a really awesome job, I say.

    Comment by MCQ — June 8, 2010 @ 12:57 am

  6. What MCQ said.

    PS I hate it when youth leaders ask me to write letters to my kids.

    Comment by Susan M — June 8, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

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