Sermoncitos, a family tradition
I was shocked recently to hear a member of the church declare with certainty that the solution for the Indians is that they abandon their culture and “become like us”. This is not a new sentiment. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1803, “I shall rejoice to see the day when the red men, our neighbors, become truly one people with us”. The drive to assimilate Indians into the mainstream of American life by changing their customs, dress, occupations, language, religion and philosophy has always been an element in Federal-Indian relations. Each of us is in danger of being assimilated into the lifestyles around us. It has always been that way; our friends and neighbors expect us to be like them. If you want to be an influence in the path your children take, you must be vigilant in reminding your children who they are.
The sons of Helaman gave up their jobs later in life for full time church service because people were forgetting God in favor of worldly philosophies and life styles. They remembered the words of their father: “Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem (Nephi and Lehi); and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good” (Helaman 5:6). “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:6).
We all need a sure foundation of testimony and righteous living in order to have the daily guidance of the Holy Ghost. However, the most natural thing for mankind is to forget our relationship to God from one generation to the next (sometimes from one day to the next). It is natural to forget God when things are going well, like the roofer who slipped. As he slid down the roof, he prayed for help, but when his pants caught on a nail, his prayer changed: “oh never mind, I took care of it myself”. It is natural to abandon God during hard times, thinking God has abandoned us. How do we remember? How do we remind our children in a way that helps them keep the Spirit in their lives?
One of the great lessons of the Book of Mormon is that those who wrote their experiences and shared the scriptures with their children were preserved, and those who did not write were assimilated into the worldly traditions around them. Nephi said, “...we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). President Henry B. Eyring addressed the problem with his children by writing every day with this question in mind: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” His journal not only became a source of strength for his children, but also helped him appreciate the influence of God in his own daily life. Don’t fall away from your testimony. Remember the hand of God in your life and remind your children daily.