The first time I was sealed was like a dream. Ours was a story of youthful love, dreams, desires, and faith. I don’t remember much of what was said that day, but I do remember the supernal happiness and peace I felt as I joined the man I love in a covenant with the Lord. This was the day that changed and forever shaped my life and the woman I would become.
The second time I was sealed I found I had taken for granted what it meant to be born in the covenant. I had been born in the covenant. My daughters had been born in the covenant. It was just the way things happened in our family.
Then our sons were born, but not of my body. They were not automatically part of this eternal blessing that I valued, but had not truly understood or treasured. I praised a merciful Father in Heaven for the blessings I was allowed to have, even if I had not fully appreciated them.
The third time I was sealed, I was facing some health problems. Things that made me realize how fragile this life here upon the earth really is. The Proclamation on the Family states, “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”
How grateful I was to know that no matter what happens here in this life, we could be reunited because of the covenants and promises made with the Lord–that through our faithfulness we would see each other after death for an eternity of happiness.
The fourth time I was sealed our family was complete (or so I believed). I marveled at the beauty of watching my children walk quietly into the sealing room. How great was my joy! I imagined what it would be like to live faithful lives, to be once again reunited, eternal and partake the the glory of a loving Father in Heaven together. I imagined His joy when we make and then keep our covenants bringing us closer to His presence. I was thankful for the struggles that it took to bring our family together, for the miracles wrought in our behalf. I cherished these moments spent in the temple with my family and looked forward to more.
Astonished, yet joyful, that we had another baby, the fifth time we were sealed I think I was in shock, bewildered that I was a mother of nine, shocked that the sacred sealing ordinance was being interrupted by the rough and tumble of two little boys who did not yet understand the meaning of reverence. Despite all of our chaos, the sealing still worked. “It took” as our sealer replied as we finished. It was not ideal. It was not the most spiritually uplifting experience ever recorded, but the Lord understood. The Lord loves each and every one of us, even when we don’t live up to expectations.
I marvel at the plan that the Lord has laid out for our family. It is unlike anything I ever imagined and despite our imperfections He still blesses us. The trust the Lord has in us, allowing us to be together, to walk through this journey hand in hand, one trial after another, one joy filled moment followed by years of love and happiness brings peace during the troubles.
This is His plan. This eternal family, with all our individual flaws is the ultimate goal. Here is what we work for. Here is where our joy is. This is where the Lord will reside with us.
“The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity. Our purpose in life is to create for ourselves eternal family units. There is nothing that will ever come into your family life that is as important as the sealing blessings of the temple and then keeping the covenants made in connection with this order of celestial marriage” (President Joseph Fielding Smith in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 13; or Ensign, July 1972, 27 ).