Last week I became an aunt for the sixth time. I am absolutely crazy about my nieces and nephews, so I’m counting down the days until I get to fly south to hold sweet baby Faye. Though my immediate family members are spread between Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina, I’m fortunate to be able to spend a significant amount of time with them. (A quick look at my 2010 calendar shows I was with my nieces and nephews for about eight collective weeks!)
The way I can best explain my strong attachment to family is by quoting from an address LDS leader Dallin H. Oaks gave to faculty and students at Harvard Law School. “Our family-centeredness is not just focused on mortal relationships but is also a matter of fundamental theology.”
That fundamental theology gives great purpose to my mortal life — it gives me aspirations to become like my heavenly parents. Because they are my parents in a spiritual sense, I have the nature of divinity within me. That nature gives each of us the power to create new life — the ability to follow God’s first commandment to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
God’s plan to organize us, his children, into families was certainly intentional. As members of families, we are given countless opportunities to love selflessly. In families, we are happiest when we serve one another. We are presented frequently with situations where we learn from each other; other times growth comes by teaching. No family relationships are perfect, but they all provide opportunities to practice and develop Christ-like behavior.
The family relationships we develop as mortals don’t have to end upon death. According to the fundamental theology of the Mormon church mentioned earlier by Elder Oaks, we have the opportunity to perpetuate our family relationships beyond our present lives here on earth — we can live together once again in God’s presence in heaven. So it’s no wonder I treasure my family so closely — it is our destiny to be together in the hereafter. This masterful plan is one of many evidences that God loves me.
(In 1995, the leaders of the LDS Church put together a beautiful proclamation to the world regarding family. View it here.)