I have been thinking about my own inborn yearnings.
We desire for so much in this life -- and so much joy and satisfaction can come through our efforts to meet and fulfill these longings. But there are definitely some yearnings that are more important than others.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton has said: "When we have a yearning and don’t know what it is for, perhaps it’s our soul longing for its heartland, longing to be no longer alienated from the Lord and the pursuit of something much higher, better, and more fulfilling than anything this earth has to offer." Elder Ashton went on to say that "Perhaps as much as anything in this day and age of mass media, instantaneous worldwide communications, and modern conveniences that seem to help us pack more into each day than would have been considered possible just a few decades ago, we need to focus and direct our attention to the things that really matter. And simply, what really matters is a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, an understanding of who we are and what we’re doing here, and an absolute determination to return home."
We yearn to return to our heavenly home, in the same way we often yearn for our earthly homes. Elder Ashton explained that: "It’s normal to long to be where you feel secure, where those you love have your best interests at heart. It’s understandable to want to return to the place where you learned how to walk and talk, where you felt loved even when friends turned away, and where you were accepted, regardless of the situation. There’s no place on earth that can take the place of a home where love has been given and received." That feeling of HOME is improved and perfected in our families until it's utmost perfection in the Lord. I think our yearning to return to the Lord, to our true home, is a big part of what drives our yearning for companionship, in marriage and family.
We yearn for family connections -- and we are influenced by the stories, testimonies, and strength of those who came before us (and we can do the same for those who will come after us). Family connections can become legacies of faith and love. They can fill, in part, the longing we have for an unbroken connection with God and the home we have in Him.
Elder Russell M. Nelson has stated that: "The noblest yearning of the human heart is for a marriage that can endure beyond death." Why? Because that is the starting point for the work of an eternal family. Relationships that necessitate sincere and sustained upkeep -- connections that are more than just experiences in mortality -- all a foundation for eternity.
Elder Nelson also explained that marriage is not just a union between husband and wife, but that it also "embraces a partnership with God" and that "children born of that marital union are 'an heritage of the Lord.' Marriage is but the beginning bud of family life; parenthood is its flower. And that bouquet becomes even more beautiful when graced with grandchildren. Families may become as eternal as the kingdom of God itself."
That is why carefully choosing a spouse is so important. That is why having children is so important. That is why the time we spend with our families, and the legacies we pass on to our children, are at the core of the plan of salvation. We yearn to "go home" and to have our own home -- and they are intertwined and sustain by efforts in each.
Exaltation is family, home, and God. That's why I am trying to learn to accept my own yearnings as positive desires and not be burdened by them. They are to help bring me home.
I want to end with some words from A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. My Dad quoted them to us this morning from memory and while I'm not going to talk ABOUT them, they helped shape a lot of my thoughts today.
Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.----------Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.---------Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.I am haunted by waters.