I had to prepare my first talk in Sacrament meeting in 7 years. I love preparing talks. I learn so much and find things I want to do and be better. This is what I learned from Marion G. Romney and Marie Hafen.
Self Reliance- more than a check off list- a principle with a purpose
The October 1950’s Reader’s Digest shared a story called the Gullible Gull. It tells us of great flocks of seagulls dying in the city of St. Augustine despite the fact that there were good fishing waters nearby. The seagulls did not know how to fish. The gulls for generations had depended upon a fleet of shrimping boats tossing the scraps to them. But now the fleet was gone. And the gulls were dying in droves as the fish population was growing.
As quoted in the Reader’s digest, "The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the . . . sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.” In other words, instead of teaching their young how to care for themselves, they taught them how to depend upon the free handouts.
President Marion G. Romney once stated, “A dole is a dole whatever its source. All of our Church and family actions should be directed toward making our children and members self-reliant."
I have been asked to speak upon temporal and spiritual self -reliance. Many people see this topic as a checklist of items that include a year supply of food and a testimony. Yes, this may be part of your individual program, but may I purpose, that self reliance is not merely a list of items to purchase but rather an attitude or a proactive behavior in which have the courage to act upon the promptings given to us to prepare for our futures.
Not too long ago, my husband and I found resources to continue our ideal homeschool very limited. And we needed to make a decision. In doing research, we determined that we needed to move back to Utah. Quite surprising, since my husband was doing fantastic at his career at Apple. After a confirmation at the Temple, the process had begun. We put our home up for sale. It was the only home sold within a six months period - selling barely at the top of a market that crashed a few months later below our purchase price. Although the home sold, we had no job, no place to live and no way to get our items to Utah. As I panicked, cried and panicked more, we worked to solve those issues; The Lord calmly told me all would be fine. And miracles did occur. Let me share just a few of them.
As I looked for job options while Rob was traveling, I was directed to a specific website. To this very day, I am not sure where it is or how I got there. But it happened to be the very job he currently has which later we were told it had been on hold for two years. In casual conversation, we find out a family member needs a renter for their empty huge custom home in Orem and we could stay till they moved back. We had made arrangements to give most of everything we owned away because we had no way to get all of it back to Utah. And just days before giving all our belongings away, my long lost brother whom I had not had contact with for years, just happened to be working for a moving company called to let us know, he had a load to take to the Bay Area but did not have a load back and wondered if we needed help. With special permission from his company, he was able to transport every item in our home including a car and a motorcycle in his trailer. There were other unexpected surprises which is why we now are here in Mapleton with a paid off home.
In hindsight monetarily, that move cost us a great deal, but the blessings we have received because of that the leap of faith have been priceless. Money could never buy the gifts compensated by the Lord. Some of which include good friends, a wonderful spouse for my daughter, and children raised with very high ideals.
Elder Albert E. Bowen said, "The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience . . . That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free."
President Romney stated, “The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit."
Governments are not the only guilty parties. We fear many parents in the Church are making "gullible gulls" out of their children with their permissiveness and their doling out of family resources."
Romney continues: “Parents who place their children on the dole are just as guilty as a government which places its citizens on the dole. In fact, the actions of parents in this area can be more devastating than any government program.”
To avoid being gullible gulls and training ourselves and our posterity to expect free handouts, the church teaches us four principles:
1• Learn to work effectively and efficiently
• spend more time teaching our children how to work/ problem solve rather than entertaining themselves.
My father was a great example of this. He taught all of his children how to work hard and be reliable. I started my first job at 12, babysitting and cleaning motel rooms in Nevada.
As long as we have children at home, and they are capable we work together to maintain the cars, house, yard and anything we deem necessary to prepare them for adulthood. Laws have changed significantly regarding working for others at this age so things are different for our children. Because we don’t have a business of our own, by the age 16, our children are required to have some form of employment whether it is self employment or through another entity.
2• Store food and other essential supplies for a time of need
• Teach our children how to grow a garden, how to have food on hand, and prepare meals. My mother was a great example to me in this endeavor. She knew how to can or store just about anything, bake, and make meals from scratch.
My children work in the garden, help clean and store the produce, help plan and prepare meals… and now that Sierra can drive, she will have the opportunity to do the grocery shopping.
3• Manage our finances carefully and prudently by living within our means
•Teach our children of ways to earn money, demonstrate an honest work ethic, provide stability so they can be reliable at a job, and teach them how to budget and manage a checkbook. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we do it with integrity.
Once I had a history lesson on the great depression in high school. I remember vividly the picture of a woman sitting on her front porch sobbing in her hands as all her belongings were auctioned off to pay debts. From that day forth, I never wanted to be in that position where I had accumulated more debts than I could pay.
To teach our children about money, we do the 10-50-40 plan. 10 percent tithing, 50 percent savings and 40 percent spending (often they save it). We don't do allowances. We reward are children according to their performance at school with predetermined monetary amounts.
4• Gain a good education that allows for mobility.
Be an example of learning and not guiding your life by fear but rather always moving forward in faith.
As a former school teacher, my life has primarily been around the success in the educational arena for our children. We have created our family's essential skills list that we feel our children need to be independent and capable adults. We prepare and encourage our children to achieve their associate’s degree along side their high school diploma.
Since education is my love. Please forgive me if I appear blunt. But let me acknowledge an obvious but often unstated expectations to the youth.
18 is a magical number in our society and has a harsh reality. At this age, you are expected to be able to provide for yourself and live on your own. Your parents are no longer legally responsible for your welfare or financial well being. Anything given to you at that age is considered a gift not a right or even the responsibility of the parent.
For boys, young men are expected to go on a mission. The church knows a young man at age 18 can be capable of being on their own, managing and living within a budget, taking care of their basic needs of nutrition and health, and helping and serving others. Although some parents may help a young man/girl pay for this endeavor, it is not deemed a right in our society. Many parents, I know make their children earn the money for such a wonderful experience knowing there is great satisfaction knowing you not only served but you paid for the opportunity to serve.
When you return home from your mission, you will be strongly encouraged to marry, provide for a wife and raise a family avoiding debt like a plague. Preparing now and taking advantage of the resources available to you will make your life so much easier in the future.
Girls, as well have similar cultural expectations. As a young girl, I always had it in the equation to get married and a constant companion to love and be loved. I don’t know a girl who doesn’t hope for that. But let me be honest, although ideal, marriage is never a guarantee.
Marie Hafen suggested the following in Celebrating Womanhood: “First, become somebody who can support herself. Young women should prepare for a career, but not because a career is more important than family life. A career isn’t even AS important as family life. Although Church leaders have counseled mothers of young children to avoid working outside the home whenever possible, they have also urged young women to seek education and prepare for careers and meaningful involvement in society.
Career-oriented education matters for several reasons. For example, at any given time, from 35 to 40 percent of the adult women in the Church are single, whether widowed, divorced, or not having married. (See Twila Van Leer, “Singleness Becoming More Common,” Church News, 6 November 1983, p. 4.) In addition, more than 90 percent of both married and single women must work sometime during their adult lives. An LDS woman is now likely to work more than twenty-five years, and six out of ten working LDS women are supporting not only themselves but others in their families.
What these statistics boil down to is that young women who believe they will always have a husband who will fully support them, thereby making it unnecessary for them to work outside the home, are living in a dream world. Husbands may die, or they may be disabled by accidents or illness. Children grow up, missionaries need financial support, and most mothers live healthy, vigorous lives for many years after their children leave home. Single-adult women cannot expect the Lord to rescue them from life’s natural adversity. The gospel has been given to heal our pain, not to prevent it. The Lord does give us strength to deal with a world that can sometimes be dreary, but often that help comes only as we do all we can do."
Spiritual self-reliance is essential to our eternal well being. When we are spiritually self-reliant, our testimonies do not depend on the testimonies of others.
President Thomas S. Monson: “In order for us to be strong and to withstand all the forces pulling us in the wrong direction or all the voices encouraging us to take the wrong path, we must have our own testimony. Whether you are 12 or 112—or anywhere in between—you can know for yourself that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true” (“Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 62).
The spiritually self reliant seek their own spiritual experiences through praying daily, studying the scriptures, and exercising faith in Jesus Christ. We turn to our Heavenly Father for His help to resolve our own difficult problems as we work towards a resolution. We are also able to strengthen others in their times of spiritual need.
Romney states “Self-reliance is not the end, but a means to an end. It is very possible for a person to be completely independent and lack every other desirable attribute. One may become wealthy, have their two years supply (of freeze dried foods) and never have to ask anyone for anything, but unless there is some spiritual goal attached to this independence, it can canker his soul."
President David O. McKay made this profound observation:
"The development of our spiritual nature should concern us most. Spirituality is the highest acquisition of the soul, the divine in man; 'the supreme, crowning gift that makes him king of all created things.' It is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the infinite. It is spirituality alone which really gives one the best in life.
He continues; "It is something to supply clothing to the scantily clad, to furnish ample food to those whose table is thinly spread, to give activity to those who are fighting desperately the despair that comes from enforced idleness, but after all is said and done, the greatest blessings that will accrue from the Church are spiritual." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 103.)
I can’t tell you how much I love visiting teaching. Although I am always nervous to go into other people’s homes, I find the friendship I gain motivates me to visit teach as often as possible. Currently, I am fortunate to visit teach Joyce Morey. She shared her son’s last email home from the mission with Sister Arbon and I. Because my mission in Honduras was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life, please allow me to share his thoughts with you.
“Thanks for pushing me to get out on the mission," Trevor writes, “All I can say is that it really has opened up my eyes to a lot of things. As lot has changed since the day I left and they will keep changing but I know now that it is for the better. I have been through more in this past year than I have in my entire life. At times I have felt trapped in a darkness having no one to turn to but God.... And the feeling that even He didn’t want to talk to me, gave me little hope for the future. I was angry because I was in the front lines of a war not knowing who I was fighting for. I just wanted you to know, I found my team Captain and I am strong with Him.”
Let's not be gullible gulls or inadvertently train our children to be gullible gulls. May we all discover who our team captain is, gain confidence in our future and move forward in faith rather than fear. May we listen to HIS guidance and have the courage to follow what he has asked of us. I know for certain with the right team captain and our Savior Jesus Christ, nothing is impossible and we will arrive at the destination he has prepared for each of us. Your soul is worth everything to him.
Self-reliance another principle with a promise
Celestial nature of Self Reliance by President Romney
Celebrating Womanhood by Marie Hafen