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Elder William K. Jackson of the Seventy talk this last General Conference was titled "The Culture of Christ" and discussed how to live like the Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. It is a culture of learning and study, faith and obedience, prayer, and covenants and ordinances.
As I opened the door, I was greeted by my wife. Although I didn’t realize it fully at the time, she was all dressed up and had done the same with our two-year-old daughter. Additionally, she had prepared a wonderful dinner with all the trimmings. The house had been cleaned spotlessly, and soft music was drifting through the air. To all of this thoughtful preparation I was completely oblivious. Little did I realize that she had prepared a wonderful evening just to express her love for me, as I would painfully realize a little later.
I quickly gave her a hug, asked in a somewhat casual way how her day had gone, and proceeded to go to the TV to turn on the game. I selected the station, and sure enough, the game had started. I loosened my tie, sat back on the sofa, and started taking in the game. Honestly, it took several minutes before I realized that she was still standing near the door where she greeted me, not watching the game, but watching me watch the game.
I will never forget the disappointed look on her face. Although I would turn off the game and attempt a half-baked apology, the night (though not totally ruined) had been soured by my insensitive actions. The worst part of all was the discussion we had later that evening as she simply explained to me that she sometimes felt she was number two in my life.
I was ashamed. My heart ached. I silently vowed that evening that somehow, someway, this would never happen again.
My experience that night caused me some serious soul searching. I knew my wife loved me, and I knew she knew I loved her. Yet, my actions have sometimes betrayed my expressions of love and commitment. That night caused me to ask myself many questions. The questions were easy to ask, but their answers were much more difficult to obtain. They included such things as “What is our most important priority in life? Is it our Church calling? Is it our spouse, or children? Is it our occupation? Is it possible or even wise to rank these priorities?”
After the conclusion of an LDS Church Educational System (CES) fireside on February 5, 1999, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave additional counsel to CES faculty and guests that remained in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Among other things, he gave the following ranking of priorities that we should seek to establish in our lives:
1. Our own physical and spiritual needs
2. Our spouse’s needs
3. Our children’s needs
4. Our Church callings
5. Our professional life6. Our civic responsibilities
Elder Holland assured those assembled that this list is nothing new and that prior prophets have taught the same. In 1972, President Harold B. Lee counseled, “Most men do not set priorities to guide them in allocating their time, and most men forget that the first priority should be to maintain their own physical and spiritual strength. Then comes their family, then the Church, and then their professions—and all need time.”
In order to have a culture of Christ in our homes, we need to prioritize the needs that are in our homes, and that includes the women in our lives, our mothers, wives, and daughters, and to elevate them the way the Savior wants to elevate them. Prioritize them, prioritize their voice, and prioritize their hopes and dreams. Elevate them by noticing them, their actions, their opinions, their views, and their goals. Like Elder William K. Jackson said, "In the culture of Christ, women are elevated to their proper and eternal status."
Friends, sweethearts, and spouses need to be able to monitor each other’s stress and recognize the different tides and seasons of life. We owe it to each other to declare some limits and then help jettison some things if emotional health and the strength of loving relationships are at risk. —Jeffrey R. Holland