"Along your pathway of life you will observe that you are not the only traveler. There are others who need your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save." Thomas S. MonsonOn my Google homepage, someone had the fantastic idea to make a function called Mormon Thought of the Day. Elder Monson's is one of today's thoughts, and it made me think about my close friend Jacob (I call him the older brother I never had.) He is currently struggling with I'm not ever sure what in the Church. His parents are very devout Latter-day Saints, and I think he finds it to be smothering. However, I believe he is truly blessed to be raised in the gospel, and I've been trying really hard to get him to see that.
My experience with the branch I attend is that his parents are the ones that everybody admires. I've been to their home, and the church is the dominant influence (and means of decoration) there. They hold family home evening, family prayer, family scripture reading time, etc, etc, etc, I'm sure the list goes on and on. His parents are basically Jack and Jill Mormon with their 7 kids, and all the boys have biblical names. And that's great! I love going to their home because the spirit is really strong there... they have what I want, and it seems to me that they try to share it with me and others whenever they can. I admire his parents for their example, and I respect them a lot.
However, Jacob lives within the home, and sees EVERYTHING that goes on behind closed doors. He sees his parents for who they are when they're depressed, angry, and all of the other times they aren't wearing their Sunday best. And I thought about this, and I came to one conclusion. Our branch admires and respects his parents for how much they serve, dedicate their lives to the gospel, and for being Jack and Jill Mormon... but Jacob doesn't have that right now. He knows his parents aren't the perfect people that we would all assume they are, simply because we don't think to know better. And I'm trying to think of someone else he would look up to, or respect, or confide in... and no one comes to mind. We go to a small branch, and there aren't a lot of members there. And out of all of them, his parents are the ones that are relied on and respected most... so what does he have? And therein, I think, lies the source of the problem.
We all struggle. We all falter. To continue with Elder Monson's analogy, our travels become difficult, the road treacherous and rocky, and the adversary will do whatever he can to separate us from the spirit, and divide us from the loved ones that would strengthen us. This is what happened to Jacob. My clumsy big brother fell off the wagon, and he's angry because the adversary has him thinking that his parents pushed him by being overbearing... and the more they try to reason with him, the less he listens... and now his parents are making desperate statements to lead him back to the straight and narrow... "You don't have to attend your priesthood meeting, but if you don't, it will break my heart," and other such declarations of grief and disappointment have been used against my brother, and it has only exhausted everyone on both sides. I've spent enough time with his family that they've become comfortable with me, and I see inklings of what goes on behind those closed doors, and my heart goes out to all of them because Satan has them all blinded and cornered...
And I'm afraid that Jacob is too far gone to see what is happening... and I'm afraid that if I try to explain it to him, he won't hear it. He has decided that because his parents eat/sleep/breathe/live the Church, they are the Church, and every time they go another round in this battle, he pulls himself further away from all of us... and I don't want to make it worse. He feels like everything is closing in from all sides, and he wants everything to get out of his face. I don't want the cross hairs on me too, and to be accounted as one of the ones working against him. But if I interfere, I run the risk of having that happen.
Elder Monson urges that there are souls to save, and I believe him. I just hope the spirit will be with me as I aid a fellow traveler, friend, and the older brother I never had... but always wanted...
And wish to keep.