Convention of Statesmen

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Religious: Coping With Those Who Leave the Fold

One of the most painful things any family member can face is watching a loved one make a decision which will utterly destroy their eternal salvation. So desperately we want to gather them close and hold them until they come to their senses, but it is impossible. We cannot, nor should we, force others to do what we know is right for them.

Today, while I was studying my Sunday School lesson, I happened to catch the end of the last lesson. Because of things which happened in my own family are so fresh in my heart and mind, Elder Richard G. Scott's words particularly struck a chord in me:

"Many of you have heavy hearts because a son or daughter, husband or wife, has turned from righteousness to pursue evil. My message is for you.

"Your life is filled with anguish, pain, and, at times, despair. I will tell you how you can be comforted by the Lord.

"First, you must recognize two foundation principles:

"1. While there are many things you can do to help a loved one in need, there are some things that must be done by the Lord.

"2. Also, no enduring improvement can occur without righteous exercise of agency. Do not attempt to override agency. The Lord himself would not do that. Forced obedience yields no blessings (see D&C 58:26-33).

"I will suggest seven ways you can help.

"First, love without limitations . . . Second, do not condone the transgressor, but extend every hope and support to the transgressor . . . Third, teach truth . . . Fourth, honestly forgive as often as is required . . . Fifth, pray trustingly. The . . . fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

"Sixth, keep perspective . . . When the things you realistically can do to help are done, leave the matter in the hands of the Lord and worry no more. Do not feel guilty because you cannot do more. Do not waste your energy on useless worry . . . In time, you will feel impressions and know how to give further help. You will find more peace and happiness, will not neglect others who will need you, and will be able to give greater help because of that eternal perspective . . .

"One last suggestion--Never give up on a loved one, never!" (in Conference Report, April 1988, 69-71; or Ensign, May 1988, 60-61)

What loving and astoundingly simple advice from an apostle of God. Because of what we have so recently faced in our own family, these words struck to the very center of my soul. We cannot force another to make righteous decisions, that would be Satan's way. The Lord of Hosts insists upon free agency. He cannot free of us of the consequences of our actions, but He does free us from being forced to choose right.

What a beautiful and eternal concept. Do not condone the transgression, but love with our whole hearts, the transgressor. Never surrender our principles, values, morals or knowledge of truth, but do allow that person to make those decisions which cause so much grief in the hearts of those who love them.


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved by Candace E. Salima.

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Religious: Coping With Those Who Leave the Fold Religious: Coping With Those Who Leave the Fold Reviewed by Candace Salima on Sunday, February 07, 2010 Rating: 5