Young adults from around the world are responding to the call from an apostle to be “a welding link” in their family chain.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, addressed young adults — married and single — during a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults on Sept. 10, originating from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Prior to the devotional, Elder and Sister Bednar invited listeners to prepare by reading The Family: A Proclamation to the World and Doctrine and Covenants 128:18.
Elder Bednar’s message for the devotional was influenced by an experience with President Gordon B. Hinckley when he came to Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) to dedicate the Spencer W. Kimball Building in September of 1999.
Elder Bednar shared a video clip of President Hinckley’s message in which President Hinckley recounted sitting in a temple dedication with multiple generations of his family. The prophet explained how he felt an overwhelming desire that he, along with his posterity, should never break the chain of faith in their family.
President Hinckley said: “To you I say with all of the energy of which I am capable, do not become a weak link in your chain of generations. You come to this world with a marvelous inheritance. You come of great men and women, of men of bravery and courage, of women of accomplishment and of tremendous faith. Never let them down. Never do anything which would weaken the chain of which you are a fundamental part.”
Elder Bednar declared that as a result of President Hinckley’s message, “The imagery of a chain of the generations was clear in my mind. The warning to not become a weak link in the chain of the generations was powerful in my heart. The admonition to never do anything which would weaken the chain of the generations penetrated my soul.”
Elder Bednar added, “I hope to now build upon President Hinckley’s teachings about our ‘chain of the generations.’ He clearly and emphatically described what we should not do, which is become a weak link in the chain of the generations. I want to focus upon what we should do, which is become a welding link in the chain of the generations.”
Sister Bednar remarked, “As a link in the chain of your generations, you should recognize that the decisions you make now and in the future are not just about you. Your decisions affect both those who have gone before and those who come after you. The example and influence of your obedience to gospel principles, the power of your personal righteousness, and the consequences of the decisions you make for good or bad will extend across the generations. Please be a strong link in the chain of your generations.”
One lesson Elder Bednar taught has been shared repeatedly on social media: Being a strong link is possible for all — even those who feel like their family may not fit the ideal description.
To those who have experienced great sorrow in abusive or dysfunctional family relationships, he said: “Please listen: eternal family links are only welded together through priesthood authority and personal righteousness. Whatever bad things may have occurred in your family, I testify and promise the Lord Jesus Christ is the source of the healing, renewing, and restoring that you need. Weeping may have endured during the night of your adversity, but joy can come in the morning of your new life made possible by our Redeemer and Savior.”
To the young men and women who feel lonely as first generation members of the Church, Elder Bednar exclaimed, “It begins with you! You are the pioneers for both your progenitors and your posterity,” he taught. “Deceased family members who precede you in the chain of your generations are praying for your help, and those who will come after you are counting on your faithfulness. You indeed have the power to become strong welding links. Remember, it begins with you. And with the Lord’s help, you can do it.”
“We’re so happy after this devotional,” wrote Francisco Garcia in an Instagram post. “Thank you Elder Bednar for the [transmission]! I’m still thinking about this: ‘With the help of the Lord, you can create an eternal family, even if you did not come from the kind of LDS home that sometimes is featured on the covers of the Liahona or Ensign magazines. Please always remember: It begins with you!’ ”
For many listeners, one of the most important principles Elder Bednar shared was that people are not trapped in their own past experiences. “We are not wholly and totally victims of our present circumstances or captives of our environment,” he said.
One young woman posted of her “overwhelming gratitude” for his message on her Instagram account. “Elder Bednar’s words tonight at the LDS Worldwide Devotional for young adults were an answer to my prayers,” Erin Jones wrote. “He literally word-for-word asked a question that has been burning in me and causing me pain and uncertainty for years and then answered it. The Spirit was so strong. I’m so grateful to be led by living prophets today. My Heavenly Father knows me and understands my needs and desires. He has a plan for me and with his help I can do it. Because of the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, you and I are not trapped in our past experiences. We are not wholly and totally victims of our present circumstances. We are agents with the capacity to act and press forward.”
Natalie Brady posted a picture on Instagram that shows in big letters “Begins with you. And with the Lord’s help, you can do it.”
Her caption reads, “Didn’t have my notes with me during the worldwide devotional, so instead I made a HUGE reminder. Be the change. Don’t use crutches that hold you back. Don’t let the past dictate your present and future.”
Recognizing some have experience with family members or respected leaders who have not honored their sacred marriage covenants, Elder Bednar again encouraged listeners to remember, “it begins with you.”
“One link in the chain of your generations may have been broken, but the other righteous links and what remains of the chain are nonetheless eternally important,” he said. “You can add strength to your chain and perhaps even help to restore the broken links. That work will be accomplished one by one.
“A fulfilling and happy marriage is not found; rather, it is created by a covenant-keeping man and woman. I fear some of you may be engaging in an endless search for something that does not exist. There is no perfect potential spouse who can safeguard you from emotional pain and spiritual anguish. But in the strength of the Lord, a faithful man and woman acting as agents can create the fulfilling marriage and the eternal family they hope and yearn to have.”
Becoming a welding link comes through doing the simple things to honor sacred covenants, having courage and faith to choose the right, and by trusting the Holy Ghost to illuminate a person’s pathway, Elder Bednar taught.
In a short video posted on Instagram after the devotional, Elder Bednar invited listeners to share how they are becoming a welding link in their family.
“Let us know what you have done, what you are doing, what you will continue to do to be a strong link in the chain of your generations. Thank you and we love you,” Elder Bednar concluded.
The short video has nearly 70,000 views, and includes responses from many listeners.
“What I am doing to become a stronger link regarding the worldwide devotional?” wrote Hillary Villa in an Instagram post. “I am preparing to go to the temple, which I am going to temple prep classes on Wednesdays. I am also doing genealogy work — I am researching my family to see if I can do any baptisms.”
Visit the website lds.org/broadcasts/worldwide-devotional-for-young-adults to watch the broadcast.