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The Importance of Families

You’ve probably seen a situation like the following one, or maybe you’ve been there yourself.

A son propels himself into the world, rebellious and short sighted. His parents, stung by their child’s defiance, let him go while both worrying and hoping for the best.

It’s a familiar story today. And this story that Jesus first told more than 2,000 years ago shares timeless truths about human nature and the love found within families that are just as relevant today.

The father of the prodigal son may have known what was coming when his young son asked for his share of the money from the family business. Most parents wonder at times if life lessons have been learned, if skills have been mastered, if a child will make hoped-for decisions. Yet this father gave his son the inheritance as a sign of love and support.

It didn’t take long for things to go wrong. The son took off for another country, quickly wasting his money “with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). When a famine struck the land, the son had nothing. No food. No home. No hope.

A job feeding swine may have seemed a new low for this young man who had squandered his large inheritance, but the alternative was worse. With no friends and no help, he ate the same husks as the pigs.

Likely ashamed of his predicament and abandoning his pride, the son resolved to go home—not to ask for more money, but to seek a place to work, sleep, and eat with the hired servants. Going back couldn’t have been easy: he knew it was time to face his family, and he knew he was in the wrong. Yet in his journey’s final steps, he came to know how much his family loved him.

Before the young man even reached the house, he could see someone running toward him. It was the young man’s father, who with joy embraced his son, calling for clothing to be brought and a feast to be made. “For this my son was dead, and is alive again,” he rejoiced. “He was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24).

We all want our families to be happy, but hopes and plans—as we see in this parable—don’t always go our way. Arguments, addictions, mistakes, and miscalculations split families too often. In the story Jesus told, the brother of the prodigal son was angry. He’d been the loyal son; why should his brother receive so much love?

But through this parable, Jesus’s teachings, expressed in the words of the young men’s father, were clear: “We should make merry, and be glad” (Luke 15:32) when our family is together—physically and emotionally. In the end, money and mistakes don’t matter. Family is perhaps the most important thing we have on this earth. And the unconditional love we can have for them is the same kind of love our Father in Heaven has for you and for your family. Through His loving plan, we can bind our families together forever.

“Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.”—3 Nephi 18:21