Raising a family the spiritual way

After discovering a spiritual life with a purpose, the next biggest change in my life was the way I would raise my own family. Being raised myself with goodly parents I have always felt indebted to my parents for what they had done for me. They gave me a strong foundation to work upon in building my own life but yet I knew there was something more I had to add to family life that I felt missing in the family I grew up in.

We didn't have a spiritual lifestyle as my parents were divided in their spiritual beliefs. Though my mother showed interest in the various Chinese idolatory beliefs, my father as an educated man did not see God to be in an idol to be worshipped. Never-the-less he still allowed my mother to continue the Chinese religious acts of praying with joss sticks so long as she kept it simple with maybe one idol and not a whole set on the altar as some other families would have. The spiritual unity they had was purely on doing good to others and acting according to our own conscience. This simple moral or spiritual guide was all I was left with growing up in the family. Obviously they couldn't answer my deeper questions of what was the spiritual purpose of life and is there a God?

Though I cannot say they were religious in following any strict codes of an organized religion, I can say that they did communicate with God in their own way. Some how my parents were silent in teaching their children what spiritual path they would take. My mother would pray daily with joss sticks while my father before he slept would often lie down facing upwards on the bed and simply interlocked his fingers of both hands and placed them on his fore head with palms facing upwards as if in prayer. Neither of them made us follow what they did except our mother on festive occasions only. In summary, all the children really had no direction for the spiritual path of life and was left for us to venture on our own. Up to my senior year at the university, I had not spent any time exploring any religion at all and was fully focused on the academic or intellectual path of life. For purposes of filling up any official forms that asked for religion, I had for many years expediently penned myself as a Buddhist. I had no understanding of what it meant and just gave myself an appropriate religion that a Chinese could be classified as. After all the option of being an agnostic was never provided.

After my own conversion to the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, I was respectful of the beliefs of my parents and did not try in anyway to push them to accept my beliefs. Nevertheless when I was called to serve as a missionary for the Church under the Singapore Mission , presided by President J Talmage Jones to work primarily in Malaysia, I had to face my family to seek their blessings. ( This experience is recorded here ) After my successful mission, as the story has continued to this moment, I found my future life partner to be in the same Church and we started off life with a simple marriage and wedding reception at Church that was contrary to traditional Chinese receptions of hosting grand dinners. We felt our priority in the wedding reception was simply to let our friends and relations know we are both now married and to give them an opportunity to come to get to know our new partner in the marriage. We even decided that we would not want our guests who were invited to our wedding reception to bring us gifts as we felt their attendance and relationship or friendship to us was of the real value to us instead of the gifts.

The Church had taught us of the blessings of an eternal marriage and that meant having to be sealed for all time and eternity in a holy ordinance in the Temple of our Church and we had set our sights to go there. Not having a Church Temple in Malaysia meant we had to travel further for this sacred ordinance and the nearest Temple at that time was in New Zealand. We needed to save money for this journey and we waited for a year before it was possible to be married in our Church Temple. We decided to go to the US to be married in the Salt Lake City Temple as expenses would not be that much more than going to the nearest Temple as the air fare to New Zealand was equally costly. Furthermore, we had more friends to host or accommodate us who were my missionary associates such as the Mission President and wife, single and couple missionaries who had served in Malaysia with me whose home were in Salt Lake City area.
( A pictorial story of that memorable journey to the Temple and photos with names of our friends who hosted us are found here including our family life that followed to our 20th anniversary )

From this Temple Marriage our family life took a spiritual path. Our children were born in the covenant as we call it and were taught all the basic principles and practices of the restored gospel as we know it. 'Famillies are Forever' was a central theme of our Church membership besides worship of Our Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ. We did our best to create a spiritual path for our children that was more Christ centered than Church centered through our own examples of handling personal weaknesses and the process of repentance and forgiveness. This I felt was important as Church callings and activities did keep us often very busy in the straight and narrow path but I felt the need to develop strong personal faith and testimony that comes from our own personal experiences in living the Gospel. The life of Christ is an example of perfect love and humility. His gospel is about changing oneself from inside out or living a principle centered life. The world has more emphasis on working on how the outside looks and of creation of popular brands to be associated with. An outside in approach perhaps. I had always felt and thought no matter what faith I would eventually follow, if none at all, it needed to be one that would fully satisfy the yearnings of both my heart and mind. I choose freely to be a disciple of Christ and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints based on this simple criteria of where I felt and thought truth can be found. I feel and think that following both my heart and mind is like following a compass that always points to the true north direction. It has worked for me many times whenever I needed  to make an optimal decision.

I am deeply grateful for the Church and it's founding pioneers who took the lead to teach optimal principles of true happiness to all mankind through the rightful institution of the family. For this reason I have something positive to leave behind for my children in the form of so called religion as the world brands it, that my parents couldn't do. I hope that our children and their posterity can continue to enjoy this wonderful opportunity to leave behind for their families a spiritual way of life that will build better communities and nations throughout the world.

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