This talk was given by a 14 year-old young man who lives just outside Washington DC. It was his first talk, and was written entirely on his own.
Seeing as this is my first talk ever, I made the mistake of waiting until Saturday afternoon to write the whole thing. How many people have made that mistake? Can I get a show of hands? Alright, the topic I have been assigned is love in the family. Now, five weeks ago, when the bishop called my house, my step-dad answered the phone and hollered for me and I immediately thought “Uh-oh” because usually when someone yells my name, especially at home, it’s because I did something stupid. But anyway, I come over to him, and while I’m trying to figure out what stupid thing I did, he says “The Bishop’s on the phone for you.” I was confused because nobody ever calls me, I call people but nobody ever calls me. I get on the phone and the bishop gives me the details of the talk. The topic is love in the family, which, now that I think about it, is very fitting because today is Valentine’s Day, and I have a family… and we love each other.
I don’t think I have ever talked about a single topic for more than three minutes at a time and now I have to do at least five. It’s just mind-boggling to me that some of you can come up here and talk for, like, ten minutes without even thinking about it. Now that ye heard me tail of woe, as to our topic, love in the family, who loves their family?
I have a question: What is the perfect family? The answer to this will change depending on who you ask, and when you ask them, but if you ask me, there are no parameters for a family. Families come so many different ways and types. In John 13:34 the Lord says:
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
I was eight years old when my mom and dad got divorced. It was hard, and it took a while before I liked my dad again, even though I always loved him. Because of my dad’s problems with addiction, a judge said he wasn’t allowed to see us for a year. Now in that year I forgave him, and after he could see us again, my mom let him visit us at our house at least once a week. As he proved to everyone that he was doing good, my mom would let him visit with us for longer periods. After my mom graduated from college, me, my mom, my brother, and my sister, moved to Virginia. It was in the middle July . You can imagine what a shock it was to come to Virginia in July after living in the northwest most of my life!
I started sixth grade, in the fall… and it was bad, there’s no other way to put it. First week of school I came home sobbing because of the bullying and the terrible things people said. Seventh grade wasn’t as bad, and eighth grade was much better, but for me, middle school was not a really fun place. Somewhere in the chaos of the physical and emotional trauma that is middle school, my step-dad came into our lives. He married my mom, and we suddenly had a wonderful new life, a family with five uncles, five aunts, ten cousins, and two new siblings, who are here today sitting somewhere down there with you and the rest of my family.
In the fall of 2014 I got to see my dad when he came to visit us for a couple of weeks. He stayed with us at our house, and I got to see him and my step-dad be friends and it was okay for both of my dads to love us. Little did I know, but that was the last time I would ever see my dad. I finished eighth grade with flying colors and in the summer, I decided to tryout for football in high school. The conditioning sessions were long and hard, but my mom told me that my dad always wanted to play but never got the chance. I got a break when we went on vacation. My family went to California to visit my mom’s parents for a week, then went to Utah to visit my step-dad’s parents, where we met up with the rest of our family. We were only two days into our stay in Utah before we got some terrible news: my dad had suddenly died.
My dad was gone, and it was awful, but I had family all around me. I was safe and loved, even though I was so sad. A week later, our family was sealed together in the Temple. My brother put our dad’s name on a chair in the sealing room, and it made us all cry, because we felt like he was there with us. My brother and sister and I were sealed into my step-dad’s family, and my other siblings were there too. Just like when my dad visited us, we knew he was okay that we were loved by our new family, and that we still would always love him.
To honor my dad, when we got home from Utah, I knew I would make the football team, even when I wanted to throw up because I was working so hard.
My point is, no matter what someone does, no matter what happens, no matter how much somebody messes up, no matter what, love and forgiveness can be found in our families. The Lord has told us, as He said in the Gospel of John, to “love one another”. There aren’t exemptions to that- we are supposed to love. Period. Your family may not look like anyone else’s family, and that’s okay. God loves all of us, and wants us to be happy.
The bonds in your families will never fade, and will never break, and even if they are damaged, they can be repaired and healed by love and forgiveness and by the power of the Lord. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.