“Seeing God’s Family through the Overview Lens”

Sister Tamara W. Runia, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency

2023 October General Conference

“As humans, we have an earthbound point of view, but God sees the grand overview of the universe. He sees all creation, all of us, and is filled with hope. …let’s choose hope—hope in our Creator and in one another, fueling our ability to be better than we are right now.

…Before we interact with a loved one, can we ask ourselves the question “Is what I’m about to do or say helpful or hurtful?” Our words are one of our superpowers, and family members are like human blackboards, standing in front of us saying, “Write what you think of me!” These messages, whether intentional or unintentional, should be hopeful and encouraging.

Our job is not to teach someone who’s going through a rough patch that they are bad or disappointing. On rare occasions we may feel prompted to correct, but most often let’s tell our loved ones in spoken and unspoken ways the messages they long to hear: “Our family feels whole and complete because you are in it.” “You will be loved for the rest of your life—no matter what.”

Sometimes what we need is empathy more than advice; listening more than a lecture; someone who hears and wonders, “How would I have to feel to say what they just said?” Remember, families are a God-given laboratory where we’re figuring things out, so missteps and miscalculations are not just possible but probable. And wouldn’t it be interesting if, at the end of our lives, we could see that those relationships, even those challenging moments, were the very things that helped us to become more like our Savior? Each difficult interaction is an opportunity to learn how to love at a deeper level—a godlike level.

…Let’s admit, in a fallen world there’s no way to be a perfect spouse, parent, son or daughter, grandchild, mentor, or friend—but a million ways to be a good one. Let’s stay at the tree, partake of the love of God, and share it. By lifting the people around us, we ascend together.

…In these last days, perhaps our greatest work will be with our loved ones—good people living in a wicked world. Our hope changes the way they see themselves and who they really are. And through this lens of love, they’ll see who they will become. But the adversary does not want us or our loved ones to return home together. And because we live on a planet that is bound by time and a finite number of years, he tries to perpetuate a very real sense of panic in us. It’s hard to see, when we’re zoomed in, that our direction matters more than our speed. Remember, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thankfully, the God we worship is not bound by time. He sees who our loved ones really are and who we really are. So He’s patient with us, hoping we’ll be patient with each other.

…Having this eye of faith now is a recapturing, or an echo, of the faith we had before we came to this planet. It sees past the uncertainty of a moment, allowing us to “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then … stand still.”

Is there something difficult in your life right now, something you’re worried can’t be resolved? Without the eye of faith, that might feel like God has lost oversight of things, and is that true? Or maybe your greater fear is that you’re going to go through this difficult time all by yourself, but that would mean God has abandoned you, and is that true?

It is my witness that the Savior has the ability, because of His Atonement, to turn any nightmare you are going through into a blessing. He has given us a promise “with an immutable covenant” that as we strive to love and follow Him, “all things wherewith [we] have been afflicted shall work together for [our] good.” All things.

And because we are children of the covenant, we can ask for this hopeful feeling now!

While our families aren’t perfect, we can perfect our love for others until it becomes a constant, unchanging, no-matter-what kind of love—the type of love that supports change and allows for growth and return. It’s the Savior’s work to bring our loved ones back. It’s His work and His timing. It is our work to provide the hope and a heart they can come home to. “We have neither [God’s] authority to condemn nor His power to redeem, but we have been authorized to exercise His love.” President Nelson has also taught that others need our love more than our judgment. “They need to experience the pure love of Jesus Christ reflected in [our] words and actions.” Love is the thing that changes hearts. It is the purest motive of all, and others can feel it.

…Let’s use that overview lens and see the people we love and live with as shared companions on this beautiful planet.

You and I? We can do this! We can hold on and hope on! We can stay at the tree and partake of the fruit with a smile on our face, letting the Light of Christ in our eyes become something others can count on in their darkest hours. As they see light manifest in our countenances, they will be drawn to it. We can then help refocus their attention to the original source of love and light, “the bright and morning star,” Jesus Christ.”