Strengthening Relationships
October 2002

“Strengthening Relationships,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 22–23

Strengthening Relationships

As I saw the bishop come toward me the first week in my new ward, I prepared myself for his question. I have moved often enough to know what the first greetings usually are. In a kind and warmhearted way, the bishop extended his hand and introduced himself. After I told him my name, he looked around me as he asked, “Do you have a family?” Smiling brightly, I answered, “Yes! I have a wonderful family. I have outstanding parents, fabulous brothers, and terrific sisters.” The bishop looked confused and then carefully asked if I was married or had any children. I replied that I did not. I was coming into the ward on my own.

I could have also told the bishop about my grandparents, nephews, nieces, cousins, uncles, and aunts. However, it is sometimes easy to forget this family when telling someone I don’t have a husband or children. I never expected not to be married at my age, and my situation can be awkward and at times painful. But while the blessings of marriage and children have not yet come into my life, many other blessings have.

One of my greatest blessings is my family, and I do what I can to strengthen my relationships with them. Fortunately, I have a job that enables me to live close to many of my family members. While I am as busy as any member of my family, including those who are married with children, I do have a certain kind of freedom that not everyone has. In addition to attending family get-togethers, I am able to schedule time for events such as football games, school plays, and awards ceremonies as well as baptisms, blessings, and priesthood ordinations.

I also strengthen my relationships with my family members by praying for each of them. When I ask Heavenly Father to help them, I try to see them as He does. Consequently, I more readily recognize their strengths and become more tolerant of their weaknesses. The Holy Ghost helps me to see my own weaknesses and how I can work to change my actions to help build a more eternal family. Through prayer I am better prepared to receive personal revelation and learn how I can more effectively serve my family members.

I have developed closer relationships with family members through service, whether I am giving or receiving it. Being single, I have learned to rely on myself to handle most of the difficulties that come with daily living. It is often hard for me to ask my family for help, but when I have done so, my love and appreciation for them have grown. One sister who lives far away has helped me answer questions and solve problems as we talk on the telephone. Digging a trench in my yard with my brother led to a serious gospel discussion that helped me gain a new understanding and strengthened my testimony. Traveling with my grandmother gave me the opportunity to learn the life stories of family members, both living and those who had passed on long before. My neighbors were amazed at the transformation that took place in my backyard one Saturday morning as my family gathered together and had a family workday.

As I think about eternity, I know I cannot wait until I have a husband and children to build strong family relationships. I have a family now. Someday my future husband and children will benefit by the family unity I am helping to establish. I know that if I live worthily I will be able to meet Jesus Christ again, and on that day I want to be surrounded by all the members of my family.

  • Michele Burton is a member of the Lebanon Second Ward, Lebanon Oregon Stake.