Thursday, January 12, 2012

Love Unconditional

I found this talk given in 1971 by Marion D. Hanks, that I think, has never been more relevant. (I think if you click the title of this post, it will take you to the full talk.)

I hope that you read it.

I think it was given to the priesthood of the church during general conference, but I could be mistaken. Either way, it's supposed to be about how to help the young generation of the Church. Again, this was given in 1971, which means that the young people then were my parents and aunts and uncles.

I think it is closer to what we all need in this life.
In my hand I hold a letter received two days ago from a faithful, brokenhearted father whose son, about the same age as the others, took his own life, notwithstanding the efforts of loving parents and a fine, wholesome family. I wish there were time to read a description of how hard these marvelous parents have tried. This is a missionary family, a committed family, a stay-together family; yet this boy, convinced of his own worthlessness, that he was a failure and that the mistakes he had made were disqualifying, took his own life. His father sent a copy of the note he left, and asked me to make such use of his letter and this letter as judgment and my feelings suggested.
What can we do? How can we help this great young generation meet the challenges of their time? I am certain that we must thoughtfully examine not only their needs and their problems, and what we have to give them, but how we undertake to give it, and what we appear to them to be as they observe it. I have been rethinking my own experience and will give you just an example or two quickly. May I do it in the spirit of a statement that to me for a long time has been very choice: “Neither laugh nor weep, nor loathe, but understand.”
What are some of their problems? These basic observations have come from experience with youth and from their own lips and lives. I can sum them up in four or five needs.
First, they need faith. They need to believe. They need to know the doctrines, the commandments, the principles of the gospel. They need to grow in understanding and conviction. They need to worship and to pray, but they live in a time when all of this is so seriously questioned, when doubt is encouraged.
Two, they need to be accepted as they are, and to be included. They need a family, the most important social unit in this world; and even if they have a good family, they need the supportive influence outside their home of others, of neighbors, of friends, of bishops, of brothers, of human beings.
Three, they need to be actively involved, to participate, to give service, to give of themselves.
Four, they have to learn somehow that they are more important than their mistakes; that they are worthwhile, valuable, useful; that they are loved unconditionally.
....This life doesn’t give one very many chances to feel exultant and a little successful... We cannot, my dear brethren, condition our love by a beard or beads or habits or strange viewpoints. There have to be standards and they must be enforced, but our love must be unconditional.
I read you just a sentence from the letter left by the boy who ended his own life: “I have no hope, only dreams that have died. I was never able to obtain satisfactory interpersonal relationships. I feared the future and a lot of other things. I felt inferior. I have almost no will to achieve, perseverance, or sense of worth, so goodbye. I should have listened to you but I didn’t. I started using acid last summer. It’s purgatory.” What a tragic story!
We need to understand their needs. They need to learn the gospel. They need to be accepted, to be involved, to be loved; and they need, my brethren—my fifth and final point—the example of good men, good parents, good people, who really care.

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