Why our FHE made Satan happy

Last night we had the worst Family Home Evening ever.  I commented on Facebook that dead prophets probably rolled over in their graves.

We had a little bit of a sass problem yesterday, and at one point Clark even took a swing at me.  This is, of course, completely unacceptable. Matt got home from work and I was exhausted.  He was exhausted.  We both lay down on our bed bemoaning our exhausted states.  Matt suggested we have a “lying down” Family Home Evening, and it knew right from the start it wasn’t going to go well, but I was too lazy to get up and do anything different.  (Feel free to put this away in your “How to be pathetic” file.)  So we called all the kids into our room, basically to gather around our corpses and be instructed.  They made paper-bag puppets of themselves and then Matt said we were going to talk about respect and responsibility.  After several mind-numbing attempts to get them to define those terms, we tried to think of examples from the scriptures of respect.  Clark volunteered that when Nehor killed Gideon, that wasn’t very respectful.  Right.  This led to a long list of people beating, killing, and basically destroying one another and pointing out as a tangent that “that wasn’t respectful.”  I lay there (yes, lay there) rolling my eyes.

Then Matt directed a puppet show that basically re-enacted the way Clark had treated me earlier when I told him he couldn’t have a playdate with his friend, only the children thought that the representation of their previous poor behavior was hilarious.  They couldn’t wait until it was their turn to be the puppet and yell at and hit their mother.  So our family home evening turned into an unfettered all-out paper-bag puppet brawl of people screaming at and beating on each other until the puppets lay in tattered shreds on the ground.  Matt wearily tried to make some summary statement about how it’s important to be respectful and then we released our feral children to go play something else.  We stood in the kitchen a few minutes later and looked at each other with dumbfounded disbelief.  “That was such a bad family home evening,” Matt said.  We tried to laugh, but we were too tired.

We were supposed to do P90X after the children were in bed, but Matt fell asleep on the couch, so I just ate a chocolate cookie instead.  That’s just as good, right?  I stayed up late watching episodes of Dr. G., Medical Examiner.  Does anyone else do ridiculous stuff like that even though the only thing you want to do is sleep?  Sometimes I just confuse myself.

Elder David A. Bednar said:

“Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent. . . .

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”

Man, I hope he’s right.