The Value of One Relationship

Small Family

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Marilyn Bateman

Family relationships are sacred. The bonds within families have spiritual roots. We know that we lived as brothers and sisters before coming to earth. More important, we are aware that families formed on earth can be eternal. The doctrine that eternal life is familial is one of the unique teachings of our church. Families are welded together by covenant in love and service to each other.

Love is a spiritual gift and comes from the light within us. It is expressed through the service we render. Christ's life is the epitome of service and reflects His love for everyone. Families are built through service: parents to children early in life and then children to parents later. President Spencer W. Kimball said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another mortal that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 252).

And the mortals who serve us are often in the family. A few experiences in my life have taught me the truth of President Kimball's statement. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of families and that He will prompt one family member to meet the needs of another. Some years ago the Lord helped me in a time of trial as He directed our family in the support of my parents.

More than 20 years ago President Bateman and I lived in New Jersey with our children. My parents lived in Provo. My father was in very poor health.

At the time my husband was working for a large, multinational firm and had just been promoted to a senior position. In the previous three years we had moved from Utah to England and then to Pennsylvania. Now the new assignment was causing us to move again, this time to New Jersey. It was the third move in three years.

The children had patiently accompanied us, establishing new friends each year. We bought a new home in a beautiful area of the state and settled down for what we hoped would be a long stay. We had no desire to move again.

We had been in New Jersey only a few months when BYU President Dallin Oaks called and asked my husband to serve as dean of the School of Management. Neither of us felt that another move was appropriate. The children were adjusting to their new environment, President Bateman was happy in his work, we had just received callings in the ward and stake, and the neighbors were becoming friends.

Consequently we declined the offer. During the next few months President Oaks contacted President Bateman on a number of occasions and asked if there was any chance that he might change his mind. After the third or fourth time, the Spirit touched my husband, and he knew that we should accept the BYU position and return to Provo.

Even though I agreed to the move, I was uneasy and concerned for the children. Although I prayed for peace regarding the move, no confirmation came, and I wondered about the change.

One night a few weeks before we were to leave for Provo, I had a dream that awakened me in the middle of the night. In the dream I was terribly upset because my father was dying and I was unable to return home.

I woke up my husband and related the dream to him. After some discussion we felt that it was the Lord's way of assuring me that the decision to move was right.

A few weeks later we arrived in Provo, where we were glad to be with our parents again. We enjoyed spending time with them and renewing family relationships.

One month after our arrival we were visiting my parents when my dad began having chest pains. Mother hurriedly took him to the hospital. By evening he was gone. The experience of losing a parent is traumatic. I will never forget the sadness I felt, but I remembered the dream and now more fully understood its meaning and purpose.

The month prior to my father's death was an important time for our children to become reacquainted with their grandfather and for President Bateman and me to express our love and support for both Dad and Mom.

It was also important that we were there to support my mother in a time of great need. In the months that followed, our appreciation for the Lord deepened as we knew He was aware of us and had prompted us to change our course.

Family relationships are sacred and are meant to be eternal. Each person in a family is important, as evidenced by last week's disaster (Sept. 11). Each person is needed to complete the family circle. The absence of a person may leave a huge crater in the hearts of family members.

Build strong family ties. Keep in contact with your parents and grandparents.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Personal experience shared by Marilyn Bateman at a BYU Dev. on Sept. 18, 2001