I'm not sure where to start with this post. I guess I'll see how it turns out and fix it if I need to.
If I haven't made it clear by now, I wouldn't be who I am without the gospel of Jesus Christ. I wouldn't know my purpose on earth. I wouldn't know my worth. I wouldn't understand my own personal suffering. And I wouldn't have anyone to endure it with me and for me the way I know Christ does.
Every time we have to sing "Families Can Be Together Forever" at church, I can't do it. I can maybe get through 8 words before I start bawling my eyes out.
If I haven't made it clear by now, my family is not perfect. It actually has some serious issues on an individual basis. And it needs serious mending as a whole.
In spite of this, I want to be with my family forever. It breaks my heart when they are hurting and don't know where to turn. It hurts me to my very core to know the happiness they could have, if they'd open their hearts to it. It tears me to pieces to know how very many problems most likely could have been avoided if my family had and used and taught and lived the gospel.
Home is a very difficult place to be for me. I don't say this to hurt anyone. I say it because it's true. There is a lot of speech and behavior that offends the Spirit and drives it away from me. It's difficult to keep him with me. Nevertheless, I love being home and being with my family and do my best to show love and patience when I am there. I try very hard not to be self-righteous. I've been accused of being this way on several occasions by my family, especially by Jason, who feels strongly that I try to force my beliefs onto them.
Over three years ago, my brother Jason who is the one with the most personal struggles and demons wrote me this message on MySpace [sic]: "I love you. You are the heart of this family. Im glad I got to see you and have you motivate me haha. thank you for everything. Im glad you got home safe. Don't let [the boy] thing bother you anymore. Stay strong :).....well i just wanted to tell you that your a great sister and this family needs you!"
That message meant the world to me.
I called home tonight to check on my (perpetually) injured mother. She said my brother and dad had yet another long talk today, and that Jason brought up some valid points. Among the things he said, my mom informed me that Jason said that he misses me. That alone brings tears to my eyes. He said today, in essence, exactly what he said in the above message, that this family fell apart when I left home. He said that the vibes when I'm home are so different and so good, because of the Spirit I bring with me. He said he wanted to have dinner as a family.
Oh, my brother. How I love you. And I know you love our family, and how I wish you could express your love to them. And how I am so glad to know that you desire that closeness and togetherness and unity that you know our family struggles to have. And how glad I am to know that you feel the Spirit when you are near me, because I try so very hard to keep it there and to bring it home to you and to everyone in our house--the right way.
I am so imperfect. I am so prideful that I struggle to repent on a daily basis. I have shortcomings and temptations galore, things I know others have no struggle with at all. But I do try. I try so hard, especially at home. And I'm so glad that with the Savior's help, I am able to show His love and example when I am at home.
I sometimes feel guilty for leaving, only knowing part of what would happen without me there. I feel guilty for not being home to take my little brother to church, to show him the truth and the happiness it brings to my life. I feel guilty for feeling like "out of sight, out of mind" is how I deal with things. I feel guilty for so much, and feel so selfish for abandoning them. At the same time, I don't know that I would be who I am today without having broken away; I expect that I wouldn't be. I hope I have grown in such a way to make a bigger difference when I do go home; I hope I've gotten that much stronger.
I know the Lord hears and answers our prayers. I needed to know that things would get better. I needed to know that my steady example was making a difference. For heaven's sake, if someone like my brother knows that family dinner is going to make a positive difference, that's a small and miraculous step in the right direction: one that gives me hope. Maybe we can be an eternal family. And maybe it'll start with family dinner.
I am so grateful.