Jenet Erickson, associate professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine in Religious Education, delivered Tuesday's devotional address. She spoke on the importance of family relationships and the role they play in the Plan of Salvation.
Erickson expressed her gratitude for the knowledge that the whole Plan of Salvation, including the Atonement of Jesus Christ, helps enable everyone to become beings of love, in the deepest form of connection with others.
“Experiencing such purity in a relationship means being deeply grounded in who we are, claiming the truth about our divine nature.”
As children of Heavenly parents, we have the opportunity to form deep lasting relationships with them and with our Savior Jesus Christ, Erickson testified. Our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important relationship we will have in this mortal life.
“His covenant relationship with us is the truest intimacy – it is the experience of being loved perfectly by a being whom we know sees all that we are responsible for, in all our weakness and our sins, and reflects it back to us in the light of His purity, expands our agency, and leads us to a better way through His redeeming love. It is from the intimacy of our relationship with Him, that we learn the path of intimacy, of pure love, for others.”
She stated that her study of the family unit has helped her better understand that humans were not meant to be alone, but rather that all of God's children were born to have deep meaningful relationships
“Though our culture may tell us otherwise, we are not designed for self-actualized, pleasure-seeking autonomy. We are deeply relational beings, designed not for independence, but for radical dependence and connection.”
Discussing the central roles that marriage plays in an individual's sense of belonging, Erickson also emphasized the importance of parental relationships with their children. Parents have a vital role in helping their children form healthy relationship patterns, which is illustrated by sharing the potential ways a father could affect his children.
“A father’s closeness offers daughters a deep experience of what protective male love feels like, strengthening her capacity for wise sexual decisions. His closeness to his sons offers an experience with masculinity that is protective and nurturing, not driven by aggression, physical strength, or sexual proclivities.”
In a marriage, both partners must be mindful that they are completely faithful to their spouse, Erickson said. Partners should strive to have a healthy relationship that is strong enough that a child’s heart can rely on it.
Erickson emphasized that all people are relational beings designed for love. She said that it is in connecting with another person that we begin to know who we are.
Currently, there is an epidemic of loneliness and an increase in mental health challenges, Erickson said. This has been caused by individualism, diminished community engagement and the “deepest loneliness stemming from disruption and disorder in family life.”
Erickson noted that the way to defeat loneliness is by loving and being loved. It is in the act of being known and loved that we will feel at home.
“As much as we yearn for this, it is not an easy process. It means intimacy – with all of its attendant fear of self-exposure, being seen and known in all that we are and all that we are not. It means responsibility and profound trustworthiness so that others will be safe in our care.”