Elaine S. Dalton | Aug 3, 2018
A mother knows what it's like to worry, especially when it comes to her children. And in today's world, it seems like there are innumerable ways children and teens can come across both physical and spiritual harm. So how do we best harness the power of heaven to help us raise and protect our children in the last days? In her book Return to Virtue, Sister Elaine S. Dalton shares crucial ways mothers can call upon the powers of heaven to help their families as they try to "run well their own marathon of life."
I don’t know of any family that doesn’t need the help of heaven. Pray with your family. This is one thing you can do to make your home a refuge against the dark world outside.
Terrorist activities and ongoing armed conflicts underscore the fact that we live in a world of uncertainty and evil. Never has there been a greater need for righteous mothers, mothers who bless their children with a sense of safety, security, and confidence about the future. Mothers who teach their children where to find peace and truth and that the power of prayer is stronger than any other power on the earth.
When I was young, my father became seriously ill. We thought it was just the flu, but as the days progressed, he became more and more ill. It was during that time that I really learned what it means to “pray always” (2 Nephi 32:9). I had a constant prayer in my heart, and I would seek solitary places where I would pour out my soul in prayer to my Heavenly Father to heal my father.
After a few weeks of illness, my father passed away. I was shocked and frightened. What would our family do without our father whom we loved so dearly? How could we go on? I felt that Heavenly Father had not heard or answered my fervent prayers. My faith was challenged. I went to Heavenly Father and asked the question—“Heavenly Father, are you really there?”
I shall never forget our mother gathering us around her the evening of my father’s funeral. I was in my teens, and my two brothers were younger. She said that we needed to rely on Heavenly Father now more than ever before because we did not have an earthly father in our home. We kneeled and offered family prayer together. I shall never forget the secure feeling those prayers gave me each day.
Over a period of many months after my father’s death, I prayed for help and guidance. I prayed for my family, and I prayed to understand why my father had not been healed. For a time, it seemed to me that the heavens were silent, but as a family we continued to pray for comfort and guidance. I continued to pray also. Then one day, many months later, as I was sitting in a sacrament meeting, my answer came in the form of a scripture. The speaker said: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). A feeling came over me, and I felt I was the only person in the chapel. That was my answer. Heavenly Father had heard my prayers!
When our circumstances are less than ideal, we as mothers can rely on the power of prayer. We can teach our children that they too can rely on the power of prayer to protect and guide them in today’s world.
One mother wanted more than anything else to have a good relationship with her son, but he had taken up with the wrong crowd and had become angry and defiant. She quit her job so that each day she could pick her son up from school and take him directly home, protecting him from the worldly influences. Her son resented that. One night while praying about what to do, she felt impressed that she should love her son and tell him so. But she knew he would not listen to her because they had not had any communication. When they did talk, it was always in anger. Each time she prayed, the feeling persisted: “Tell your son you love him.” But she just couldn’t find the right moment.
Then one night she went downstairs to get the laundry. Her son’s bedroom was next to the laundry room. She went in and looked at her sleeping son and said quietly, but out loud, “I love you even if you don’t know it. Regardless of what happens, I will always love you.” She felt good and thought, “There, I finally did it.” Even if her son was sleeping and could not hear her, she felt good just saying those words.
Every night thereafter, when she was sure her son was asleep, she would tiptoe into his room and tell him she loved him, sometimes lightly stroking his hair, sometimes kneeling by the bed to gently hold him, taking care not to wake him. Even when he stayed out with his awful friends, she would wait until he had come in and gone to sleep and then go into his room and tell her son that she loved him.
When her son turned fifteen, he went to high school and, in the transition, made some new friends. His attitude slowly got better and his disposition became more positive. He graduated from high school and was called to serve a mission for the Church.
One day, shortly after he returned from a successful mission, some neighbors visited his family’s home for advice. They had a wayward daughter and had remembered the difficult times this family had had with their son. The mother told them, “You just have to weather it. Somehow they outgrow it; it is just a phase.” But her son interrupted her. “Mom, that’s not it! Don’t you remember? Every night you would come into my room and say ‘I love you’ before I went to sleep.” His mother’s love had been his refuge against a darkening world, a shelter from the storm, a light welcoming him home (see Frandsen, “Refuge,” 261–62). Love is the greatest power and will have the most powerful influence.
I believe President Gordon B. Hinckley was absolutely right when he said, “Mothers can do more than any other group to reverse today’s sobering social trends” (“Walking in the Light of the Lord,” 100). We are mothers whether we have children in our homes or not. We can be mothers to others’ children and nurture and warn and protect and love them too. Who knows what our influence might do? If we really want to make a difference, it will happen as we mother our own children and any other children who need us.
I close with several steps that any one of us could take to help the next generation train to run well their own marathon of life:
• Teach them of their divine identity and purpose in the plan of happiness.
• Help them know that it is possible to remain pure in a polluted world.
• Accept and love them wherever they are on the path.
• Rivet their eyes on the words of the latter-day prophets.
• Never underestimate their spiritual capacity or hunger.
• Help them have confidence in personal prayer and receiving answers.
• Help them receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Ghost.
• Create a climate in which they feel the Spirit in their lives.
• Encourage their questions.
• Help them connect doctrine with their everyday lives.
• Focus on the basics—faith, repentance, baptismal ordinances, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance to the end.
• Teach the blessings of the temple ordinances and eternal families.
• Teach and testify of the Atonement.
Never forget the difference we can make through our influence. As we stay focused on the things that matter most, make our homes refuges from the chaos of the world, follow the example of Jesus, and draw upon the powers of heaven, I believe we can change the world.