Scripture Stories Help Those With Family Trials Live After the Manner of Happiness

I love the Proclamation to the World on the Family. I have earnestly studied and pondered and sought to defend the doctrine of the family for years. I am grateful that we have living prophets and other authorized leaders who help us keep grounded in a world of shifting values, standards and definitions. We need these ideals taught regularly and often.

At the same time, I also have earnestly studied how the scriptures and the doctrine of Christ can help those whose family life currently does not fully match the ideals as taught by prophets and the plan of salvation. Sometimes such less-than-ideal situations can cause great heartache and grief, and can make happiness seem like an elusive thing.

One does not have to read very far in sacred writ to have opportunity to consider the theme of familial struggles.

- "In the beginning" we know that one third of Heavenly Father's children rebelled and rejected His plan and the Savior, Jesus Christ.

- Adam and Eve must have suffered greatly when Cain killed Abel. Imagine the added devastation when Cain did not repent for his action, but instead justified it and eventually succumbed completely to the devil's influence.

- Lehi and Sariah suffered almost unto death because of the choices of their sons, Laman and Lemuel.

- Abraham had to leave his family of origin in order to not be killed, and in order to seek the blessings of the priesthood. (Abraham 1 is a significant read in terms of the blessings of the priesthood ("blessings of the fathers") that came to him in spite of the sins of his own father.)

Consider how many other stories in the scriptures talk about serious family trials. 

One such story is a continuation of the Lehi and Sariah struggle. Not only did the parents suffer with intense grief, but the impact of Laman and Lemuel's repeated rebellion had a significant on the entire family. 1 Nephi 18 nearly brings me to tears for the pain that was experienced by the children and righteous members of the family. And sadly, Lehi and Sariah died without their family unified and at peace.

Things only got worse after the elderly parents passed away. Nephi is eventually guided by God in 2 Nephi 5 to flee into the wilderness and take leave of his brothers for good. The Lord knew that the hearts of Laman and Lemuel had reached what I interpret as a point of no return. "[A]ll those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God" followed the prophet into the wilderness, where they began a new life, both proactively living their faith and taking action to protect themselves from their relatives, who continued to seek to destroy their lives.

In the midst of these difficulties, Nephi describes their existence in what could be considered a very surprising way:

"[W]e lived after the manner of happiness." (2 Nephi 5:27)

How could this be? How in the face of such a heartbreaking situation could he say such a thing?

I think Nephi answers this question.

10 And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things....

11 And the Lord was with us.... (2 Nephi 5:10-11, emphasis added)
The Proclamation teaches that "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I think Nephi's experience and testimony teaches an important truth about God's plan of happiness. Of course, not all families will come to a breaking point like the family of Lehi and Sariah did. But many will be stretched. And in some situations, God will even guide people to step away from the situations for safety and well-being.

I testify that there are patterns and promises in our sacred records that can heal and strengthen and give insight about hard family trials. The doctrines of the Lord about agency and the Atonement can invite peace, even unlock healing power. Understanding about how God and His promises work across generations can bring perspective. Knowledge that the Lord knows all and can succor those in pain can allow suffering to be assuaged.

If you are one such suffering soul, my heart goes out to you. And I know that God is aware of your pain. There may be years of struggle, but just as Lehi testified to Jacob, God can and will consecrate your afflictions. He is a God of compensatory blessings. He will help you through your wilderness as you turn your heart and pain and life -- and loved ones -- over to Him. Like Nephi, like Abraham, like Jacob, like many who have walked before, "because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer" you can live "after the manner of happiness," even if your loved ones choose a different path.

Michelle Linford

Michelle is a wife and mom of three. Before marriage and motherhood blessed her life, she served a mission, got a B.S. in Psychology and an MBA (Organizational Behavior emphasis), and worked as a business consultant. She's been grateful to be a stay-at-home mom since her first child was born. Her hobbies include volunteering on a college advisory board and as managing editor of

Michelle is another of my amazing, LDS women mentors', whose insights on various topics have inspired and uplifted me as I have navigated many issues that I address online. I value, greatly, her deep understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, her testimony, and her ability to apply these gifts to many parts of society and relationships. I'm so happy to call her "friend" - and delighted that she agreed to join us for our Family Proclamation Celebration!

Make sure to visit Chocolate on My Cranium or Mormon Mommy Blogs to read some of the great posts that were shared during the Family Proclamation Celebration! (Due to my schedule, I have two more guest bloggers to share with you, before we finish up here.)


Kathryn Skaggs

Photo Source:


Popular Posts