Music and the Spoken Word: How we can react to children who have strayed

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given May 19, 2019.

Is there such a thing as a “perfect family”? Obedient children, abundantly patient parents, with endless bliss at home — we fantasize about it because that’s exactly what it is: a fantasy. In reality we all have struggles, seen or unseen, that pull at the fabric of our family. And that cloth knows both tears and tears as we watch loved ones make choices that break our hearts.

What’s the right thing to do when this happens? It certainly isn’t to give up, abandon hope, or live with despair. Instead, what if we tried to see things through the eyes of God? He who created us all loves us perfectly — even if he doesn’t love all of our choices. He sees not just who we are now but who we can become. He celebrates the good in his children, patiently waiting for us to recognize it in ourselves.

When a family member turns away from the family’s values or even the family’s love, it doesn’t mean the end of every wonderful trait he or she ever had. Maybe what’s needed is to focus not on the disappointment we feel but on the goodness we see. That’s where the potential for growth lies; that’s where hope lives. Besides, isn’t this how we would want others to see us?

One father and his son became estranged over some deep-seated differences. In time, however, he discovered how much he missed his son — his creative ideas, his sense of humor. It was then that the father realized he’d been too quick to judge. When he determined to nurture their love for one another, rather than their disagreements, a new and even deeper closeness developed.

Sometimes we label a loved one “wayward,” but that’s a box that is actually large enough to fit everyone. All of us fall short of perfection; all of us have room to improve. If we do not draw a hard line of exclusion, we can live softer, gentler, more peaceful lives. We can then patiently invite change for the good — in others and in ourselves.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at