God and the Principles of Success

Today’s Q/A is about God and the principles. Rebecca asks: “Why do you tell people it’s ok if they don’t believe in God?”

Rebecca was concerned that, in my newsletter titled “Oh, the Controversy,” I minimized God’s role in our success. That newsletter pointed to several articles, namely:

Let’s read her complete question, in her words:

Dear Leslie,

I’ve read you books and listen to you for several years now. It has been enjoyable and [I appreciate] how you teach so much in many ways. I started working in the temple about 7 months ago and since that time have become very concerned with many self-help teachings.

Many seem to teach philosophies of men mingled with scripture. In searching and contemplating, many ideas and teachings that I have believed do fall in that category.

I believe that the 7 laws are true laws. Where I am concerned is that in teaching those principles, in many ways, there is a denial of God.

I know that you believe in God and in his church. I know the laws work whether you believe in God or whether you do not. But in telling other that they can come form God or from Nature or out of the universe or what ever, I believe we are telling people it is not important to believe in God.

He is the most important truth! He is where all truth comes from.

In this world where so many that are denying there is a God, I for one feel called upon more and more each day to stand up and testify that He lives and that his Son is Jesus Christ.

You know form reading the Book of Mormon that if this country denies the God of the country Jesus Christ we as a people will be removed form this land. Our country is already fallen so far. If we do not turn back to God soon, Great destruction awaits us.

I have stopped listening to many of the self-help industry because of this, but have continued to listen to you. I felt you were testifying more of God than most. That is why this article about the Controversy is troubling to me. To me it said: it ok if you do not believe in God. It is ok to give God credit to something or someone else. But it is not ok. There is a God and we need to stand up for Him.

When someone obtains somethings with the law of attraction it is still God’s law. Even if they do not believe in God they are still using God’s law. I have seen so many turning from God and I believe it is because we are denying that the laws come from him.

The hard part is I know you believe all this. What I do not understand is why you are telling people it ok to believe there is no God. As President Russell M. Nelson has said the most important work we can do is to bring people unto Christ. What good is successful in life if there is no eternal life?

Rebecca

A. Here is my reply:

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I agree with you about the importance of believing in God, can you point me to the phrase or paragraph that troubled you? I’d like to review it and make sure it still speaks truth (some of my articles were written over ten years ago and are sent out by autoresponders). The newsletter you replied to has several articles, and I’m having trouble finding the specific piece you’re talking about.

One thing to note, though, is that unfortunately, the principles DO work, whether or not a person believes in God. That is the truth, unfortunately. Like gravity, it applies AND has its effect on ALL people—believers and unbelievers alike. Saints and sinners alike. We may not like that fact, but it is the truth. This is why some people leave God when they discover them—but I would question whether they were truly converted in the first place, if their ability to obtain material possessions with or without Him is what caused them to believe or disbelieve.

God’s laws are in place, and they do play out for the sinner and the saint, no matter if we believe in Him. That doesn’t mean that we should abandon God, it just means we must be careful how we use them, because there WILL be eternal consequences for how we use the power (just as there are eternal consequences for how we use the power of procreation).

The principles can be used for worthy goals but they can also be used for stupid goals (I’ve had my fair share of those). They can be employed to build the kingdom of God, and they can also be employed to fight the kingdom of God.

This is why Jacob 2:19 says: “And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

My work is to educate on the principles, in the context of “having first obtained a hope in Christ”—but I don’t always have control over who reads my work. It would be convenient if my readers were only those who were solidly grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I have readers from all over the world who, for some, have never even been taught about Christ. If they find my work and follow me long enough, they’ll learn about my beliefs. I have them posted prominently on my blog in the upper menu.

Keep in mind that I have written over 500 articles, and:

  • Some are written for members who are afraid to learn about the principles.
  • Some are written for Christians who are afraid to learn from a Mormon (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
  • Some are written for atheists who struggle to believe in unseen help. (I’m not going to shun them if they haven’t gained a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I can minister to them, and show them how to provide for their families, I believe the Lord would want me to.)
  • Some are written for non-Christians who don’t understand the role of Jesus Christ in overcoming life’s challenges.

Just as missionaries need to be conscious and respectful of the culture of those they teach, if they want to build the relationships that bring people to Christ, I try to do the same with my readers. Sometimes the Spirit prompts me to hold back, and sometimes it instructs me to speak boldly. Again, with over 500 articles, you’ll see the gamut.

I don’t think I’ve ever said it’s okay not to believe in God, but if I have, I would like to fix that. What I think I have said is that the principles work whether or not you believe in God, and that is still true.

Anyway, if you decide that you should stop listening to or reading my work, I hope you’ll read this one last thing. It’s the most important thing I think I have ever written on the topic, and I hope it’s what I will be remembered for:

https://rarefaith.org/the-hardest-thing-ive-ever-tried-to-write/

It’s long, but it really shares my heart regarding the personal development world, and where it sits with my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Warmly,

Leslie

“But I say unto you, Love [all]…, bless [all]…, do good to [all]…, and pray for [all]…; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-44)

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Should we sell our home?

Today’s Question is about Real Estate:

“Should we sell our home?”

One of my readers sent me the following:

“We have enough equity in our house that if we sold it, we’d be almost completely out of debt. We’ve got 2 kids in college and 2 at home still, which makes downsizing a little tricky at this point. We’d probably have to rent an apartment for a year to save up for another down payment on a different home. Or buy a condo, and those can be difficult to sell.

We want the kids to have a place to stay when they come home for the summer, and if we were in a 3 bedroom apt or condo that wouldn’t be ideal. And yet, I REALLY want financial freedom. I REALLY want this burden GONE FOREVER.

My business has been struggling for years, and is actually the reason why we’re in this situation—I invested in marketing and trainings that didn’t convert, and got scammed by a business partner. Lots of adventures!

But I hear you loud and clear about being reactionary at this point. Any money the business brings in goes right to debt. I haven’t paid myself in close to a year. That sucks all the fun out of business! 🙂

Anyway, the question is: do we sell the home in the spring and rent for a while? What would you do?

..Thank you so much, Leslie! You’re one of the last people out there I actually trust. – A. C.

Here’s my reply:

That’s a tough question. I’d probably be tempted too, but we spent 6 years renting after the recession and I never realized how much of my mental energy was spent wondering, “Where are we going to be next year? Will the rent go up? Are we going to pay the higher rent or are we going to move again? What about the kids’ schoolwhat if we have to move too far? How are we going to save for a down payment fast enough to keep up with rising home prices?”

It was on my mind constantly. We ultimately bought another home and the difference it made in my ability to THINK, create, and serve again was HUGE.

That being said, who knows if the home prices are going to tank again in the near future, and getting the equity now might be super beneficial? It would be amazing to pay off the debts faster, and buy a home when they’re cheaper. Indeed, it could go really well in that regard, but it’s a BIG gamble. If you stay where you are and can get in front of things any other way, don’t take it for granted that you already have a home of your own. It’s a huge-er deal than you know.

I strongly recommend that you do a search in Dave Ramsey’s archives for “should I sell my home to pay off debt” and see what advice he offers in different scenarios. Additionally, here’s one article on the topic. Find the principle that applies to your situation from which to make your decision, then you can be at peace no matter which way the market goes.

She responded:

Thank you! I adore you! I appreciate your honesty so much. And when I get quiet in my mind, I realize that some of this feeling is impatience, which is NOT a principle of abundance! I’ll do a search on Dave Ramsey—that’s a great idea. Thank you again! 

To learn more about developing the right mindset for achieving your goals, visit www.ProspertheFamily.com

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Avoiding Debt-Payoff Self-Sabotage

Today’s Question comes from Allyson. She wanted to know:

“How do I visualize paying off debt, without creating a subconscious desire for MORE debt to pay off?”

In her words:

I’ve been listening to your Science of Getting Rich Program over the last couple of weeks and have a question for you.

This next year my husband and I want to create financial freedom, which to us looks like a zero balance on all the credit cards and everything paid off. What we’re bumping up against is we keep visualizing the victory with paying off credit cards, and we don’t want to train our mind into seeking more debt for that thrill of paying it off.

But financial freedom feels so esoteric to us that I am having a hard time pinning down an emotion associated with financial freedom. I’ve thought about what I want life to look like when there are no more debts, and it’s just that everything is normal, I feel secure and I sleep well every night, we are able to invest, and we’re able to pay a lot in tithing and fast offerings and so forth… but it doesn’t carry the emotional thrill that having zero debt has.

Can you help me reframe this, please? I KNOW we can create financial freedom this year. I want to make sure we’re not future sabotaging by the emotion we’re connecting to the visualization, or that we’re visualizing the wrong thing.

Thank you so much! – A.C.

Here’s my Answer:

One of the best pieces of advice I got on this was to spend energy picturing and planning the details of life “after”, and get excited about the feelings associated with normal life. But sometimes nothing else sounds quite as exciting, so I do get that it’s important to be emotionally invested in getting out of debt. I don’t know if this is necessarily the best way, but I’ll tell you how we finally did it. And I’m sorry, it’s kind of rambling without editing, so I hope it’s helpful:

We listened a lot to Dave Ramsey (which was painful at first, but eventually allowed us to get REALLY excited about being out of debt, WITH the new mindset that also kept us from sabotaging ourselves when the goal was achieved. It’s good medicine. Best of both worlds, in my opinion.

We first made a commitment to stop using credit to tide us over if we came up short in any given month. This commitment was before we tried to pay anything off, I think. It meant that we had to use “rare faith” a LOT. Every month, for a while in fact, until we started noticing that miracle after miracle, the principles were proving to be dependable, as long as we kept to the commitment and expected another miracle. …I had never realized what a shift in mentality that required for us, because we were coming from an “investing” mindset – using other people’s money to invest for high returns. (Which, we did really well at for a while, until we got caught in the recession and people couldn’t pay money that they owed us, and the dominoes began to really fall.)

We also had to get serious about budgeting. How on earth would we do that when our income was unpredictable?? We decided we’d just do our best. So it meant looking back over the year and coming up with average monthly dollar amounts for all the predictable expenses. We were barely making it with our business income, and when we came up short, I’d just run a promotion or something, so how do I budget when I’m so used to being reactionary to our needs? We got those monthly figures, and then decided on a monthly amount that the business had to make – so it meant setting up an automatic transfer from business to personal every two weeks.

This freaked me out at first because I thought, “Well, what if the business doesn’t make that much?” and “What if I don’t feel motivated to make more than the bi-monthly draw?” And the first month, it was patchy. I had to scramble to make enough before the transfer hit, which was new because I wasn’t scrambling to pay a bill, I was scrambling to pay myself.

Something about that helped with another mindset shift I needed – because I was scrambling to pay MYSELF instead of scrambling to pay a bill (even though the result was the same). I scrambled again to make enough in time for the second draw. And I didn’t really earn more than the bare minimum.

But after that first month, something felt different. I started working for the joy of it again, knowing that the draw would automatically cover my bills, and I found myself wondering how much more I could make, just for fun. Our financial planner told me to “Let the business account build up”, so no matter how much I generated, I was still only allowed to spend the fixed monthly budgeted amount. That was a new concept to me. (Because previously I was always just reacting to our needs.) So that’s what the budget did for me – it stopped me from thinking so much about bills, and helped me get back to just creating.

The next month I did really well, but still only received the fixed draw into my personal account. The business account started to grow and grow. THAT did a lot for my psyche. Out of the budgeted amount, certain amounts went to paying off bills, and as things started going better, I got a real charge out of paying off debts early. We started to get a bigger charge out of saving, too. This was a new experience for us. I made more rules for myself – like if I generated a certain amount of revenue by the end of the year, I’d give myself a bonus. Otherwise the money stayed in the business account, which was nice because then I had reserves I could use for investing more in my business – product, hired help, etc. It also made it so that the tax bill at the end of the year wasn’t a giant blow to our pocketbook – there was money saved and enough to cover the tax bill and to spare.

Anyway, we felt like step one had to be learning how to live with the new system of paying myself, and within these budgeting restrictions (something that ran counter to the “abundance mindset” – but again, it felt like necessary short-term medicine for our long-term wealth plan).

So the short answer is this. If you want to be really excited about paying off debt, you CAN. But keep it paired with a constant reminder of the principles that build a wise and solid foundation. Follow Dave’s Baby Steps. I used to think he was only about budgeting for people on limited incomes. But he’s more about wealth building – it’s just that too many people skip the steps that build a solid foundation, so that’s why he hammers that part so much. Too often I see people get caught up in the excitement about paying off debt without the education (and pants-kicking) that keeps them wise afterwards, and they get sucked back into the same problems over and over again. Pulling rabbits out of the hat to keep fixing debt problems does work, but it becomes exhausting.

So if your vision is a normal, peaceful, joyful abundant life, then submit yourself to Dave’s podcast (if you aren’t already listening to him). Like I said, it can be painful in the short term, but it’s really made all the difference for us in the longer term. It keeps us in check, and has really added to my ability to live the normal peaceful life I always wanted.

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Third Option

Before I get into my message today, this must be said first:

If you are in an abusive relationship, get safe immediately. Get your children safe. Pray for your spouse from afar. You can still hold the image of a happy marriage and apply whatever you may find useful in the article below, but get away NOW, get HELP and let God do with your spouse what he will.

Now on to my message:

For nearly twenty years, it has been my passion to simplify and show people the true power of effective goal achievement. And like I said in my earlier post What You can Learn From a Locksmith, there are a finite number of “tumblers” that need to fall into place before a person “gets it”. Each book you read, each mentor you learn with, each challenge you conquer brings you one dial closer to having your lock spring open.

So, challenges are part of the process.

And there is one challenge that seems to be universal, specifically for those who travel the “goal achiever’s” path with a spouse.

At first, I thought I was the only person to struggle with this particular challenge, which I will explain in a minute. But now I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve come to the conclusion that it is just one of those “life packages” that gets delivered when a person decides to strive for the next level of understanding or achievement.

You set a certain kind of goal, and here comes the package.

Related: How to Know if You’ll Reach the Goal

I’m not going to define which kinds of goals trigger the delivery of this package, because I don’t have that figured out. I have my suspicions, but I don’t have enough data to say either way, because most of the time I only hear about the person’s struggle. I’m not always privy to the goal that triggered it.

All I know is, that in my case, it showed up after:

  • I had a belief and understanding of Rare Faith
  • I had had some success with it
  • I felt a calling from God related to it
  • I was ready to use the principles again to make a change
  • My spouse wasn’t ready to make said changes

I’ve seen this so often with so many people, the outcomes have also become predictable:

The person hits a point where they feel forced to choose between their relationship, and a God-given calling to pursue a certain goal or carry out a “life’s purpose.” For whatever reason, it feels like these two directives cannot be followed at the same time:

  1. Stay married: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” (Mark 10:9) or
  2. Bear good fruit: “[G]o and bring forth fruit… that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you,” (John 15:16).

These situations typically play out in one of two different ways:

  1. Leave spouse. The person gets so frustrated with the lack of progress that “living the principles” becomes more important than preserving the relationship, and they eventually leave their spouse. Don’t be shocked. It’s more common than you may think, and socially acceptable. Divorce is at the other end of the stick they pick up when personal progress becomes more important than a marriage covenant. Personal progress feels good! A stalled marriage feels horrible! They know God wants them to grow, so if they can’t grow with their spouse, they believe the marriage needs to end. It’s not a quick process. It typically takes a number of years before the fractured relationship becomes permanently broken. Of course, there are usually a number of other factors that play into the disintegration of a relationship, but a large part of it can be pointed back to the person feeling “unequally yoked” with a partner who doesn’t want to move forward at the same pace, or at all. Or…
  2. Give up on dreams. The person gets so frustrated with their spouse that they eventually give up on their dreams to keep the covenant. They accept the fact that the growth and progress they desire cannot be theirs, and they come to terms with it, but secretly resent their spouse for not being willing to run with them toward a better life. This is probably more common, but in its own way, equally devastating.

So, the package shows up. Maybe it’s showed up for you. Is there a better way than the choices described above?

Is there an option #3?

What else can you do?

I hate that this is a thing. I haven’t wanted to write about it, because I wanted to pretend that gaining an understanding of the principles isn’t at the root of some broken families. Granted, some people have have already decided to divorce before finding this work, and then are grateful to discover it because it helps them get out and even thrive, which may have previously seemed impossible. If a marriage really does need to end, then I’m grateful it helps, I guess. But I never set out to help marriages end. How can the principles I teach lead to such a thing? I don’t want to play any part in creating the collateral damage that can come with divorce.

So when I had yet another conversation with a woman who was at a beginning stage of this dilemma, and she said, “I thought I was the only one to struggle with this,” I knew I had to shine a light on it.

I may not save any marriages, but if I can help people become conscious to a third option, then maybe at least one person can make their decision more fully informed.

Since the package has been showing up to so many people so predictably, and since the outcomes are predictable too (depending on how the person responds to them), I’m convinced the adversary is just following some kind of a playbook for destroying families. But if we’re conscious of his strategies and deceptions, then we can make our decisions more soberly. Marriages may still need to end, but if they must, let the parties involved at least make their decision from a place of total truth with the lies fully exposed. It’s my hope that I can help someone catch the deception before it’s too late to pick up the other stick instead that lets them keep their family in tact AND still enjoy the progress they crave.

It’s not the easy way.

It might not even yield happy results in the short term. But a third option does exist.

I’ve heard people talk about how grateful they were they found the courage to get out of their dysfunctional marriage, and how happy they are having found someone else more equally yoked. They have no regrets because it turned out well, and the children seem to be fine.

But some people choose to terminate their marriage and never find someone else to marry. That may not matter though, because most people leave their marriage because—no matter how it’s going to turn out, and whether or not they ever find someone else—anything different will be better than what they’re leaving.

So the message that follows is not for people who have already decided to divorce.

I acknowledge these decisions run deep and are never taken lightly. Nobody knows the kind of suffering you feel, or the way you feel it. I do not intend to minimize anyone’s pain, or judge anyone’s decision. What I want to share next is for the person who desperately wants his/her marriage to work, and who also wants to feel the soul expansion and joy that comes from personal growth, and fulfilling a mission.

There IS a third option. It takes humility, patience, long-suffering, sacrifice, belief—and perhaps the biggest dose of rare faith you’ve ever had to muster.

Remember, according to Boyd K. Packer, this is the kind of faith that moves people, and sometimes moves things.

Note: I proceed on the premise that my readers have already obtained a hope in Christ. That I’m speaking to the person who already believes that salvation or exaltation is more important than worldly success. That the Rare Faith principles are revealed to us so we can use them to further the Kingdom of God, and to bring joy and relief to our families and to others around the world.

“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted,” (Jacob 2:19)

After ye have obtained a hope in Christ, then have some hope that he has the power to lift your marriage. He has the power to heal the emotional and physical wounds that are at the root of your marital conflict. Hurt people hurt people, and a lot of times, a person comes into the marriage already hurt. So you must also hope that Jesus Christ also has the power to heal your spouse of the baggage he is carrying that causes him to behave the way that he does. (Or she. I’m going to stick with one pronoun for consistency but these ideas are applicable for either gender.)

As long as you are using the rare faith principles to create, I invite you to create a vision of your marriage being happy, fulfilled, and victorious. We’re so quick to create visions of the lifestyle we want, but we hesitate to create visions for our marriage relationship. We hesitate to create visions involving other people at all because of that agency thing, and rightly so. But there is a way to see the end that you intend without infringing on another person’s agency, even in relationship matters.

Here’s the secret:

You create a vision for your happiness together, but remain detached from the timing of its realization.

Work on becoming the best version of yourself while you hold a space for your spouse to become the best version of himself.  And then let go of how quickly it needs to happen. Plan on unseen help doing most of the work on your spouse, as you wait patiently on the Lord. As my friend Cari has to remind me sometimes when I want to tell someone how they should change, she’ll say:

“You don’t have to be the Holy Spirit today.”

At the same time, continue to create a vision for the other changes you want to see in your self and your life. The improved environment. The increased ability to give and serve. The more peaceful relationships with your children. Better health. Increased wealth.

Set the vision for your marriage unity and fulfillment first, and then leave that piece to God while you focus on the other areas of your life for which you have more direct control. You can build that business, you can redesign that room, you can plan that vacation, you can create that family joy. If there’s something you’re building a dream for, which requires your spouse to feel a certain way or do a certain thing, stay focused only on seeing the end result and let God figure out how to orchestrate it. He can soften hearts if that’s what is required. He can deliver alternate resources if that’s a more efficient solution in his economy. He can lead your spouse to new friendships or mentors who will make an impact that you were never able to make. You must let go of your attachment to any particular player doing any particular thing. Remain focused on the end result only, and then do the things you are inspired to do to make progress in that direction.

Related: By small and simple means

We are eternal beings, and this life is just a small blip on our journey. If you cannot see yourself being happy with your spouse now, and if you cannot see yourself being happy with him at the end of your mortal days as old people watching the sunset from the porch, can you see yourself getting to the other side, meeting your Maker, with a completely healed and whole companion by your side, looking back on your life’s journey together and feeling amazed and grateful that you endured through the trials as one? Can you see the victory reunion of that day, with your spouse falling to his knees in gratitude and amazement that you stuck with him when things were hard? That your vision helped him heal from life’s wounds? That your unconditional love taught him what unconditional love looks like? When he was at his worst? Can you imagine the Lord expressing his gratitude to you for suffering long, and being kind, doing what he would have done if he were there, instead of you?

It’s a lot to ask or expect any of us to be like Jesus. To forgive the adulterer. To love the betrayer. To wash the feet of the sinner. To weep with those that weep and mourn with those that mourn. To turn the other cheek. To pray for those who persecute. To serve those who spit on you. I’ll bet nobody in your circle has invited you to stay in a bad marriage, because to do so would require that you be like Jesus, and sometimes that feels beyond impossible. But he set the example. And yes, it’s a sufferer’s path. Society protects us from shame if we choose not to endure the living hell that it could be.

But nobody really talks about the growth, achievement, joy, and victory that might be realized if we live as Jesus lived.

History, however, has provided us with a few examples of people who transcended their circumstances despite their suffering. And like Jesus, their names also went down in history for it.

  • Victor Frankl described his life in Nazi death camps and shared the transcending lessons he learned. He lived through Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. He said we may not avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose…. By 1997, his book Man’s Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. In 1991 it was listed among the ten most influential books in America. What story could you tell, who might you inspire, what families might be saved for generations to come if you discover how to transcend your present suffering, and write about it? You can ask for help with that. You can seek for that. Seek for ways and reasons to leave and that’s what you’ll find. Seek for ways to succeed in spite of what is, and that’s what you’ll find. Just be conscious about these options.
  • Ammon’s people – (circa 90 BC) After his people became Christians and were forgiven for their sins, they made a covenant, “that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood… vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than [break their covenant]… they would give up their own lives… (Alma 24:18)  But when their enemies came against them in war and killed over a thousand of them without resistance, and they realized they “would lie down and perish, and [praise] God even in the very act of perishing under the sword, …[the enemies] were stung for the murders which they had committed” and repenting, joined them in the same covenant. In fact, “the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain;” (Alma 24:21-27, Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ). Do you view your covenants with the same dedication and fidelity? What miracles might God perform in the lives of others who see you keep your covenant? Would you rather die than break yours? If not, then at least make that choice consciously, fully understanding your options.

Niether Frankl nor Ammon’s people had only two options. They each found a third: the sufferer’s path. But I need to clarify something:

Option 3 does NOT require suffering.

In fact, to choose option three means suffering ends. Let me explain.

As Haruki Murakami put it, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

In other words, as soon as you choose what IS, the pain may remain, but you begin to transcend it. Choosing the pain that is, gives you an infusion of renewed strength. It’s turning a corner from being a victim to becoming a master of your circumstance. It’s accessing a higher level of empowerment, growth, soul-expansion, and victory.

You wanted growth and achievement, and didn’t think you could have it with your spouse. But option three gives you access to a higher level of growth and achievement that can be realized in no other way. It’s impossible to access that achievement without your spouse. And the more difficult the spouse, the greater will be your potential achievement. (Law of Polarity)

Maybe this was the reason for the new and everlasting covenant, because of how it exalts people if they abide in it.

I have a friend who has been in a difficult marriage for about two decades. She is one of the most wise and radiant people I have ever met. She is well experienced in the principles of Rare Faith, and often feels frustrated that her husband does not believe in himself, or in her dreams. He has fallen into a destructive loop of idleness, discouragement, negativity, anger, illness, and depression, which has plagued their family for years. Her children see it and struggle with it, but they also see how she is transcending above it.

Her community sees the dysfunction and wouldn’t blame her for leaving him. In fact, she’s been advised by well meaning friends and leaders to do just that. They think she’s living a doormat’s life. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it’s beyond frustrating. And yes, she carries the bulk of the load. But she has chosen to stay, and she is happy.

She said, “People think I’m not happy. People think I’m weak or fearful. But they don’t get it. They don’t understand what the covenant means to me, and what I’ve gained by choosing to stay. I CHOOSE IT, and I don’t suffer.”

Related Podcast: Principles of Personal Freedom

The relationship with God a person can gain by walking the path Jesus walked is impossible to explain. It can only be experienced. We have not been called to love as Jesus loved only when life is easy, we’ve been called to love as Jesus loved particularly when it is hard.

“For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and blend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: …Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over… For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:32-38).

It has become common in our society for people to think (whether they want to admit it or not) that we should do all of the following, as long as it’s not for a spouse in a bad marriage:

“[W]hosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also [except in a bad marriage]…

“[I]f any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also [except in a bad marriage].

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain [except in a bad marriage].

Give to him that asketh thee [except in a bad marriage]…

“[B]less them that curse you [except in a bad marriage],

“[D]o good to them that hate you [except in a bad marriage]…

“[P]ray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you [except in a bad marriage]…” (Matthew 5:39-48)

If you think about it, where better to apply Jesus’ teachings, than in a bad marriage??

The marriage covenant is the promise we make, the glue meant to keep us together, when things get hard, so that we’re in it long enough to really discover what it means to love like Jesus through our own personal olive press.

You wouldn’t need a covenant to keep an easy marriage together (if there is such a thing). No, you need a covenant to keep hard marriages together, else what is a covenant for?

The good news is that Jesus Christ already suffered it all. He overcame the world, and every horrible experience it contains. He descended below ALL things, so that when we faced our own crucible, we could turn to him and let him carry the burden for us. As we discover this miracle, our burdens become light, and our suffering is replaced with awe, gratitude, amazement, and a realization that the difficulty was truly a gift because it taught us transcendence. And after you discover and glean the full benefit from that hidden gift inside, you’ll look back with gratitude for the time you were privileged to spend in a bad marriage.

Related: Finding Relief From Heavy Burdens

But again, this path, this kind of growth is not something you will ever be forced to pursue, but you are invited to pursue it. Whether you choose it or not, though, at least be conscious that it exists as a third option.

In Option #3, the victory isn’t in fixing the problem, the victory is in overcoming the suffering we think has to be attached to it.

You want personal growth? You want to feel achievement? You want to have success and happiness? You want joy? Keep your covenant and let God teach you how to have joy in the suffering. You don’t have to stay, but if you do, and if you seek it, you will find the miracle contained in that adversity.

The miracle is that you can be sanctified through the suffering. That you can develop a companionship with God so real and so living that the pain no longer touches you. The miracle is that you can learn how to live in true charity, the Love of God, the greatest of all gifts. The miracle is that you will feel a joy so deep and powerful which can be discovered in no other way than to choose the third option. To lay down your life, your dreams, your desires for another—not permanently—but a willingness to put off your reward until the next life if that’s how long it takes, means the potentiality of more rapid growth, deeper sanctification, and faster progress only offered through the package of pain.

Again, you don’t have to suffer it. Even God understands if you choose not to. He understands your pain and has compassion for you. He wants you to be happy. He will provide the resources you need to escape the destruction, if leaving is your choice.

But he will also provide the resources you need to experience the miracle, if staying is your choice.

Bottom line: You have a choice, and whatever you seek is what you’ll find.

If you choose to stay and find the miracle, you need to know that miracles come in many shapes and forms. Maybe the miracle will be that he brings you both to the happiness you long for sooner than expected. Maybe the miracle will be that he blesses you with the strength and power to minister to your spouse in spite of the things you’ve suffered, so that you can experience that godly joy and fulfillment you seek. In either case, it’s a BIG WIN!! Nobody loses. Choosing option three means pain, followed by a victory, eventually.

That was the choice that Christ made for you.

The Great Bridegroom suffered it all. He left nothing un-suffered, because of his love for YOU. He endured it all, for you. And what has he asked in return? “That ye love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) Think about how he loved. One can only love like him if they are faced with the suffering he faced, and still love anyway.

You’ve used Rare Faith to get the ideal parking spot. You’ve used it to pay your bills, or decorate your home. But there may be no greater purpose for using Rare Faith than to save a marriage. Go ahead and flex your faith muscles in the little things to gain some experience, but don’t shelf what you know when your marriage is on the line.

  • If your spouse isn’t providing, use Rare Faith to meet your needs. See it done, feel the gratitude, and then do the things you’re inspired to do.
  • If your spouse is unkind, use Rare Faith to see the relationship healed. See it done, feel the gratitude, and then do the things you’re inspired to do.
  • If your spouse is lazy, use Rare Faith to see him alive and inspired. See it done, feel the gratitude, and then do the things you’re inspired to do.

But when using Rare Faith in a marriage, and because another person is a part of your vision, let go of the timing.

You’re just creating the possibility, and holding a space for it. It may not happen in this life, and for your Rare Faith to be effective, you have to be okay with that. And then keep calm, and watch what happens. You may be surprised at how quickly the miracles begin to roll out.

So if you do desperately want your marriage to work, and if you also want to feel the soul expansion and joy that comes from personal growth, and fulfilling a mission, imagine the soul expansion, joy, and personal growth that could happen if you make it your mission to save your marriage. With God, nothing is impossible, and with Rare Faith, you now know how to partner with him.

That is all. This is what my post is for—to simply let you know that the third option is legitimate. Nobody seems to be saying so anymore.

The adversary wants you believe that it has to be an either/or. That you have to choose between marriage, OR happiness. Between the relationship, OR progress. But it’s a lie. You will find no greater happiness than to let God show you how to find happiness IN a suffering marriage. Believe it or not, the broken, difficult, frustrating person in front of you is a gift from God. To lose yourself in the service of that person is to discover the greatest secret of all. To experience the greatest potential joy of all. To achieve the greatest accomplishment of all.

Even if mentors or leaders tell you that it’s time to leave, just know that you still have a choice. And in some cases, there is no right or wrong—both are worthy and acceptable, even before God. There will be challenges and blessings hidden behind both doors. Ultimately, it’s between you and God alone, and he knows your heart. Whichever path you walk, if you walk it with the Lord, you can become one with him. Just know that if you put your priority on your marriage covenant, and if you trust that the Lord will make a way for everything else to be realized at the right time, then you will unlock the door to blessings that cannot be realized in any other way.

Just remember, if the relationship is struggling, your spouse is suffering. What can you do to alleviate his suffering?

(But what if I’M the one suffering??)

I hear you. So what can you do to alleviate your spouse’s suffering?

(You’re asking me to do something impossible.)

Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. But it’s the third option that the adversary doesn’t want you to know about. And the gift, the reward on the other side of it is beyond anything else you will ever achieve.

This package of challenges you’ve received is a gift, an opportunity to really learn true charity, the pure love of Christ.

“[C]harity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” (Moroni 45:47)

And because of the Law of Polarity, if you choose this path, you will not be left without a reward of equal or greater value than the difficulty you experienced in choosing it.

“Every adversity has a seed of equal or greater benefit” – Napoleon Hill

In other words, the worse your marriage is, the greater the potential benefit contained in it. You can’t access the best blessing without a passage through the worst adversity.

You can end a suffering marriage, and you may be justified in doing so. But what if you’re missing out on the greatest gift God ever tried to bestow upon you? Please, just don’t end a marriage without knowing that this third path is indeed an option. With God’s help you can create something miraculous out of it, even if it takes the rest of your life before you see its fruit.

Nobody else out there seems to dare to declare such a thing. It’s still true that with God, nothing is impossible. A spouse can change, but we ruin it all by trying to change him or her in our way, and in our timing.

As Bob Proctor says it, “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.”

Surrender to God’s will and let Him teach you a better way.

There’s a path to achievement, and there’s a path to purification. If you put first your walk toward purification, then you will achieve the greatest achievement of all.

I wrote about my own experience with this here: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Tried to Write

Finally, a word to those who are already divorced:

If you are already divorced and were never truly conscious of the third option, God will never deny any particular blessing to the person who genuinely and humbly desires and seeks it. Turn your heart to him and let him show you how to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Like I said, life is an eternal journey and today is just a blip. No matter where you are today, God is there to walk the rest of the path with you, and to show you how to inherit his greatest rewards.

#rarefaith #thirdoption

UPDATE: Wow! Thank you for all of your comments. I encourage everyone to read the additional input below – some important points have been made about boundaries, and what this looks like carried out, submitted by people who have experienced the third option first-hand.

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Eternal Marriage

Here is an excerpt from a talk I gave at church on September 30, 2018. It has not been posted with complete documentation on all my sources, but each should be easily found with a Google search if you need it. If you cannot find the source to a certain quote, let me know and I’ll pull it up for you.

_______________________

Hi, my name is Leslie Householder; as Nicholas said we moved in recently and are glad to be here. We have seven children, with 3 ½ still at home (I say half because he is sometimes with us, sometimes away at school). You met Nick, and our youngest daughters are almost 15 and 12. Thank you for your warm welcome to us.

I am passionate about my topic: maintaining an eternal marriage, not because ours has been only blissful but because the joys that have sprung out of getting through our difficulties have been extraordinary.

We’ve learned that marriage has a way of accelerating one’s personal growth and deepening one’s relationship with the Lord, when those challenges are faced in the Lord’s way. So many rewards OR tragedies sprout from, and hinge on those seemingly insignificant moments of decision, and we’ve experienced both. We’ve also discovered that the more difficult the challenge or decision, the greater the reward for setting OUR will aside and clinging to the covenant.

As James E. Faust said, “Happiness in marriage …can exceed a thousand times any other happiness.” And I can attest to this.

I told Brother Kennedy that this is a challenging topic for me, because I really want to just spew about everything we’ve learned in our marriage, but a lot of it would be too heavy for a sacrament meeting. I said, “I think many people divorce over much less than what we’ve gone through together.”

So today I just hope to touch on some principles of that I believe can be helpful to any marriage. And with this, I include a reminder from President Faust that, “Those who are single through no fault of their own, if worthy, will be given the blessings, if they wish, of an eternal [marriage and] family relationship.”

So that is the goal: to build and enjoy an Eternal Marriage.

It was the load

Elder Bednar shared a story of his friend who went too far along a snowy road. As he steered the truck off of the road at the place he had determined to cut wood, he got stuck. All four of the wheels on the new truck spun in the snow. Sometimes we feel stuck in our marriages, too, like there is no progress or improvement.

He said his friend decided:

“‘Well, I will not just sit here.’ So he climbed out of the vehicle and started cutting wood. He filled the back of the truck with the heavy load. And then determined he would try driving out of the snow one more time. As he put the pickup into gear and applied power, he started to inch forward. Slowly the truck moved out of the snow and back onto the road.”

He continued,

“I pray for the assistance of the Holy Ghost as I emphasize vital lessons that can be learned from this story about my friend, the truck, and the wood. It was the load. It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road, and to move forward…

“Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands… obligations… afflictions… and constraints.

“Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most,” (David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease“).

And avoiding the heavy load, or choosing not to carry it at all, can literally rob us of the potential blessings and joy that were connected to the experience, for which the load was given to us.

This paradoxical idea gives me a new understanding of the scripture in the Joseph Smith Translation of James 1 that says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions;” The King James version uses the word “temptations” but the index explains Afflictions, not temptations, help to sanctify us.

So, when we find ourselves in tremendous afflictions in our marriage, how can we overcome them? How can we gain the promised blessings of joy and progress when sometimes we are not united in how to solve them?

Since every situation is different, and since only God knows the full and complete situation, the decisions we make get us from here to the ultimate goal MUST be guided by the Spirit.

While we can get answers from studying the scriptures or reading counsel that the Lord has given to the early saints, we can get even more specific, relevant, and timely guidance directly from the Holy Spirit.

Larry Lawrence in Oct 2015 General Conference explained that the Spirit gives personalized, specific, direction when we prepare ourselves to receive it. He said:

I knew a faithful mother who humbled herself and asked [for guidance…] In her case, the response from the Spirit came immediately: “Stop complaining.” This answer surprised her; she had never thought of herself as a complainer…

A humble young man who couldn’t seem to find the right young woman went to the Lord for help: [His] answer came into his mind and heart: “Clean up your language.” …

A single sister bravely asked [for guidance]… and the Spirit whispered… “Don’t interrupt people when they are talking.”

The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.

The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time, or as the Lord has taught, “line upon line, precept upon precept, … and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, … for unto him that receiveth I will give more.”

God’s ways – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Evan Almighty – As portrayed in one movie, a woman’s marriage was collapsing and she had an opportunity to speak with a stranger in a restaurant about it. In response, the stranger (who was actually God) replied:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

I would add, “If someone prays for an eternal marriage, do we think God gives us a perfect companion, or the opportunity to face challenges, be refined, and sanctified through difficulties?”

This indeed is exactly how he prepared his saints to become the people they needed to be, by sending them on a harrowing westward trek across the great divide and Rocky Mountains. Sometimes marriage can feel just as difficult. But if we are meek and faithful to the covenant, it can sanctify us in a similar way.

You’ll hear society disparage the institution of marriage. It isn’t as popular of a notion as it has been in the past. To that I would apply the response of one survivor of the Martin Handcart company who, in substance, said:

(And think of this as it applies to marriage…)

“‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold … facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine … but did you ever hear a survivor … utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.”

And I have felt angels attending to us in our marriage, in a similar way.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught that:

“two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage … means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all.”

HOPE in the power of communication and honesty

Years ago, I was visiting with a friend, whose marriage was suffering because her husband had a pornography addiction. She had come to the devastating news not by his admission, but through her own discovery. Upon confronting him, his response was one of anger and denial, and though they were still married years later, there had been no change, no real progress, and certainly no healing.

She wrestled terribly with what to do, because spending the rest of her life with a companion under that thick and evil cloud of deceit, emotional abuse, and bitterness had become beyond intolerable.

As we talked about other things, such as recent vacations, or what our kids were up to, she discovered that a man she had recently met was a good friend of mine. She said, “I have to tell you – that is one amazing individual.” She said, “I was attending church, and he was sitting in the row in front of me. He sang out joyfully during the hymns, and brought so much light and life to the room. I thought, I have got to find out who he is. When it was over, I tapped him on the shoulder. We talked for a while and I learned he was just passing through town and wanted to take the sacrament on his way home. He literally radiated – the light in his countenance was amazing.”

And then she added this: “And I thought to myself, now THERE is a man NOT on porn.”

I smiled and said, “Can I tell you something? And I only tell you this because he has given me permission to share it wherever it might help someone, but he was indeed struggling to overcome a pornography addiction at that time.”

She was shocked. How could he be so full of light? How could he possibly radiate the Spirit so strongly? How could he be so joyful?

I explained perhaps one major difference. This friend had been actively working on overcoming the struggle with a bright hope and expectation that one day it would be gone. He had found the courage and was humble enough to seek help, realizing it was too big for him to conquer on his own. He had been honest with himself, with his sweetheart, and with his bishop, who was lovingly guiding him towards complete and full recovery.

Even after experiencing a setback and returning to his bishop again, he learned some things about the atonement that day that he had not understood before, and joyfully reported, “I would have counted it a LOSS, had I NOT had a reason to meet with my bishop that day.”

It was the LOAD.

I explained to her, it’s not what we’ve done that determines whether our life will be full of light and joy, sometimes it’s whether we are open and honest in our communication, and whether we have an eye single to the glory of God, and a hope, desire, and expectation that we will one day be redeemed, healed, restored, and exalted in the kingdom of God, even if it takes us until the day we die, or beyond.

Truly, it’s not where we are, and it’s not even who we are today that determines our light. It’s the direction we’re headed, even when the victory has not yet been won. This is one reason we can have joy right now. Today, no matter what our past has been. In fact, this is exactly is why we are here, that we may have JOY. With each decision and effort to improve, we can taste joy, and I believe that the harder the challenge is, the greater that joy can be.

And the same goes with our marriages. It’s not who your spouse is today that determines your happiness, it’s not how your relationship looks today that determines your joy. It’s whether you are taking positive steps, and making the little decisions along the way that can have a great impact.

Credit for Trying

Elder Holland said:

“Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever… The gospel, the Church, and these wonderful … gatherings are intended to give hope and inspiration. They are not intended to discourage you. Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try to convince us that the ideals outlined … are depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.

“Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, “O Jesus, … have mercy on me.” He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek.

‘As you desire of me so it shall be done unto you,” the Lord has declared.’

‘… Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously. …’

‘… [Then] whatsoever you desire of me [in] righteousness, … you shall receive.’

“If gospel standards seem high and the personal improvement needed in the days ahead seems out of reach, remember Joshua’s encouragement to his people when they faced a daunting future. ‘Sanctify yourselves,’ he said, ‘for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.'”

About the Covenant

The foundation of an Eternal Marriage is the New and Everlasting Covenant. It facilitates the difference between a relationship that is temporary, and one that will last into the eternities.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen said, “I watched a new bride and groom… emerge from a sacred temple. They laughed and held hands as family and friends gathered to take pictures. I saw happiness and promise in their faces as they greeted their reception guests, who celebrated publicly the creation of a new family. I wondered that night how long it would be until these two face the opposition that tests every marriage. Only then would they discover whether their marriage was based on a contract or a covenant.”

The difference between a contract and a covenant

One writer describes the difference this way:

“My mother came into their marriage with a heavy load of unresolved pain from growing up with an alcoholic father. She dealt with a debilitating blend of perfectionism and depression, which lead to a combination of chronic physical and mental health challenges. For the most part, my father dealt with this by going silent.

“Now, for the record, I want to say that when she IS feeling well, there is no greater cheerleader, scriptorian, or saint on the planet. She has a tremendous talent for building people up and making her children especially feel amazing. But when she is not feeling well, she can only see life through the lens of darkness, and though she is conscious of the distortion, she struggles tremendously to cope with it.

“On one particularly bad day in the 1980s when my dad was out of work and stress was high, I watched my mother berate him viciously, burst into tears, and then zoom away in the car. It hurt me to see her criticize my dad, and visibly upset, I asked him, “Dad, how can you put up with that??”

“He sat me down and became very stern. I can’t remember a time before or since when he addressed me so emphatically. He said, “Daughter, you have no idea what you mother has been through.” And then he became tearful and added, “I love that woman with all my heart.”

“It was in that moment I learned the difference between a contract, and a covenant.

“My parents suffered in their marriage my whole life, but they both desired the blessings of eternal life and exaltation, they trusted in the promises of the atonement, they understood the importance of the ordinances, and chose to make sacrifices and put the covenant they made ahead of every other desire: the covenant to be companions throughout this mortal sojourn and into the eternities.” – K. N.

Else what is a covenant for?

This father could see his wife through the lens of an eternal perspective. He knew who she was without her ailments. That’s who he will spend eternity with, and his daughter imagines it will be joyful.

Where she once saw a father who appeared to be small and diminished under constant criticism, she now saw a spiritual giant with the wisdom of a sage. He was not diminished at all. Somehow amidst his suffering, he had discovered the blessing contained in the challenge. It had humbled him, softened him, given him an opportunity to experiment with unconditional love, and even exalted him.

Weaknesses are from God

As it was with her mother, so much of our pain and suffering springs from physical or mental ailments and the mortal weaknesses that God—yes God—gave us:

Ether 12:27 says, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. [Marriage does this like no other experience can]” He said, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Strong marriages are born out of weak marriages. So, if yours ever feels weak, that’s a good sign. Keep the faith, hold to the covenant, and let the Spirit teach you directly what to do about it. As you set your intention on building an Eternal Marriage, it will give you direct, specific, and personalized instruction from day to day, as promised.

I’ve experienced this personalized instruction. There have been times when I have felt instructed to let the Momma Bear come out and confront a hard issue. Other times I have felt instructed to hold my tongue and force a smile. Moment by moment we can all be guided to do the right things at the right time to realize the blessing we seek.

COMMUNICATION

Elder Spencer W. Kimball when he married our friends Julianne and Glenn on March 19, 1965 told them, “You’ve got to keep the doors of communication open. You’ve got to keep the windows of communication open…” and he rattled off numerous metaphors to emphasize his point. Then he added, “…any couple who will do that, will have an eternal marriage.”

Fear of Confrontation

A woman struggled for many years in a marriage where hurt feelings were never resolved. Hard conversations to work through issues and misunderstandings were avoided, because tensions had grown too high, feelings were always raw, and walls were solidly up. When her husband was too harsh with the children, she ached for their pain, but suffered her angst in silence. When he brought things into the home that were not appropriate or harmful, she bit her tongue, mentally stacking up the evidence to her case against him.

Although she was certain he would never physically harm them, the emotional tension was bad enough. Whenever she tried to bring up her concerns, her mind would freeze. They went to counseling, but he refused to open up, and then ultimately refused to return because, he said, “counseling doesn’t work.”  Even my friend, whose idea it was to try counseling in the first place couldn’t find the courage to speak her concerns during the sessions, even with a mediator in the room.

Ultimately, they divorced, because separation was easier than confrontation. Would facing the hard conversations and doing the hard work of addressing their issues saved their marriage? I don’t know. But unfortunately, the problem didn’t go away, they simply added to the communication problem the complexities of divorce and raising their kids under joint custody.

With or without marriage, healthy communication is a critical skill to seek, and it can be developed with the guidance of the Spirit.

True and honest communication, no matter how ugly the truth may be, has the power to bring the Spirit of God into any relationship, no matter how broken it may be, which is exactly why Satan wants us to believe it’s better to hide the truth, to suppress our feelings, or to avoid the hard conversations.

Some things will be changed in the hereafter

Everything wrong with your spouse will eventually be fixed, but not all will be fixed here. God can soften hearts and increase capacities, but sometimes it doesn’t happen until you stop needing it to happen.

Related: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Tried to Write

Let me close with the words of Boyd K Packer:

“Eternal love, eternal marriage, eternal increase! … No relationship has more potential to exalt a man and a woman than the marriage covenant. No obligation in society or in the Church supersedes it in importance.

“I thank God for marriage. I thank God for temples. I thank God for the glorious sealing power, that power which transcends all that we have been given, through which our marriages may become eternal. May we be worthy of this sacred gift, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

 

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