Chalk it up as a successful Family Home Evening. That’s what I’ve decided to do. It’s after midnight, post-Monday-FHE chaos, and I can’t sleep because of what an amazing FHE we had. Oh yeah. What was so great about it, you ask? Let’s see… Was it when ballet class got over late so the girls didn’t get home until 6:30? Or the fact that my husband had forgotten to order the pizza (bless him!) so we were starving by an hour later? Or when we began FHE anyway and had no lesson planned (ballet girl was distraught), so we started a General Conference talk about seeking perfect love and joy? Or was it incredible because just when we started the talk, the pizza arrived, so we picnicked on the living room floor with our “tent” toward the speaker while my 3-year-old intoned over and over that this was NOT a picnic. Ah, no, I think the pinnacle was the moment after said-preschooler stepped right in the middle of the pizza and I dragged him across the living room and wrestled him to change his clothes while the General Authority warned against anger and compulsion and advised love, joy, gentleness, and long-suffering. Hmmm…
Well, after the kids went to sleep, I had a mini breakdown/revival (Instagramming only the good parts of the day, of course) in the bathroom by myself, and then decompressed by talking and laughing with both my husband and later my mom, I think I’m finally ready to call it a success. Because guess what!?! We had Family Home Evening!
I called my mom since I was still too bothered to go to sleep tonight, and she shared with me an excerpt from the April 2017 Ensign magazine called, “4 of Satan’s Best Strategies and How to Resist Them,” by Elder Larry R. Lawrence. In this message (& in the full article, “The War Goes On” linked to it), Elder Lawrence discusses the premortal war in Heaven and the devil’s tactics for battle. Two of the strongest ones in my life are contention and discouragement–exactly what I was feeling in our spectacular FHE tonight. My inspired mother reminded me that yes, Satan is strong and definitely trying to be involved in our lives. If he can break up our family night or discourage us so much that we give up on it altogether–thinking it’s just not right for us, not worth it, or we’re too busy right now–that’s when Satan begins to win. And if he can win this battle, he literally keeps us from the myriad promised blessings that come not only from consistent FHE (like in this article), but from loving family bonds and forgiveness and hard work and persistence in the face of difficulties.
Knowing Satan wants so much to interrupt the Spirit in our family actually makes me feel empowered. Rather than thinking, “oh, I’m just a failure at this sort of thing,” or “we’re not feeling the Spirit anyway, so why try,” I can get my figurative guns up and remember that it’s not me or my family who are the enemy, but Satan–his lies, his deception, his myths. I can say something like what President Heber J. Grant did when he, “as a young man, resisted the devil. When President Grant recognized that Satan was whispering to him, trying to plant doubts in his heart, he simply said out loud, “Mr. Devil, shut up””(see footnote 4). I’m sorry, but I love it. We are taught that we have a right to tell Satan to leave when he tempts us or disrupts the Spirit in our lives. And when he’s messing with my loved ones, my family, my eternity? Well, my mother instinct screams at me to give him a piece of my mind and get him outta there.
So I’m calling FHE a success–because we HAD it. It was a messy battle while we were in it, and there were casualties (I speak facetiously of both the abused slice of pepperoni pizza and my wounded and discouraged soul for a time), but we did our very best and our battle cry is WE WILL NOT GIVE UP!