This lesson is based on a talk given by Bonnie D. Parkin at the April 2006 Women’s Conference. It is called Eternally Encircled in His Love. Additional activities for children are included.
1. Hand out copies of the talk to family members to read in advance. While adults are reading, have children make this craft: Sheila E. Wilson, “Sharing Time: I Am a Child of God,” Friend, Jan. 2004, 15
2. Ask someone to read the story of the young mother who, while hiking with her mentor, confessed that she didn’t understand how God could love her when she had made so many mistakes. Ask the family their thoughts on this story.
3. Ask them how perfect someone must be to be loved by God. Why does He love us regardless of our imperfections?
4. Display this quote from the talk and discuss: “Do we frequently reject the Lord's love that He pours out upon us in much more abundance than we are willing to receive? Do we think we have to be perfect in order to deserve His love? When we allow ourselves to feel "encircled about eternally in the arms of his love,"1we feel safe, and we realize that we don't need to be immediately perfect. We must acknowledge that perfection is a process. This is a gospel of eternal progress, and we must remember to appreciate the journey. Eternal means "without beginning or end," so the encircling of His love is there for us every day. Remember, it's constant—even when we don't recognize it.”
5. Hand out paper and pencils to adults and older children, and crayons to young children. Ask the older family members to make a list of ten ways they can tell Heavenly Father loves them. Ask children to draw their list.
6. Ask family members if any of them included something that was done for them by another person. (Example: When I was lonely, He sent Susan to be my friend.) Ask them what our responsibility is toward helping others feel God’s love. Whether or not anyone included people on their list, this question can be discussed.
7. Tell or ask another to share the story of the woman who moved to a new ward and sat alone for a time. Ask your family if there are ways they can help others to feel loved. As a family, make a list and post it in a visible place. Place beside it a box of small stickers that family members can place beside each item on the list as someone does it. Instruct them that if they do it on their own, and not as a family, they should place the sticker on the chart quietly, without drawing attention to their service. Remind them service doesn’t have to be big, important, time consuming, or hard. Little acts of service often have a powerful impact on individuals.
8. The craft the children made has a list of items related to God’s love. These have scriptures attached. The children are instructed to choose one each day to look up and discuss. You may want to challenge adults to continue to add to their list of ways Heavenly Father has encircled them in His arms and to place the list in their journals or scriptures, or some other safe place.