Family Home Evening: Lifeline

I love Family Home Evening (FHE)! Especially with my family of origin! I just love them! Look at them! Aren’t they adorable?!


Now this week I was in charge of the FHE lesson. So, I decided to go back to the days of when I worked as a Brighton Girl Camp Counselor and do… drum roll…aaaaaaaA Lifeline. What is this Lifeline you might be wondering? Let me explain.

All it requires is string/rope, and blindfolds of some kind. In a sense it is a maze of rope to be completed without sight. So I set up a maze of rope all over our backyard—strung between trees, the swing set, chairs, tables, the fence, etc. When I set it up I initially only made one continuous path of string that was the “right path”; if one was only to follow that “pure” string throughout the entire maze, they would reach the end without running into a single dead end. Next, however, I attached to the “true path” detours or "wrong turns," and "temptations” of every kind. Everyone was then blindfolded and instructed not to talk, hold onto the rope, and someone would meet them at the end. With that Rebekah (who also worked at Brighton) and I guided everyone one-by-one to the beginning of the line and let them go into their "mortal experiences”.

We then watched over the entire family as they struggled and triumphed through "life" to reach the end where we would greet them with a hug and love. Along the way they ran into dead ends, obstacles of trees, rocks, etc, and even other people. As Bekah and I watched, we took care as our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ do, to see that we removed some of the most dangerous branches that might hurt them, or push their hands in the right direction like the Holy Ghost when they were particularly discouraged or lost. Sometimes they would respond to the push of our hands against theirs; other times they failed to heed our assistance and went around us as though we were other participants. It really was a neat experience.
 
You see, I was trying to think of a lesson that was applicable for every age—whether 12 or 50. In my family, and in every family, a lot is going on—some are on missions, others are starting college and high school, others are beginning junior high. I'm even getting married. Some experiences may seem more favorable than others. Some may simply be new experiences of joy and learning (which doesn't necessarily mean they're simple)—others may be experiencing trials. But we’re all experiencing something.
 
After everyone had completed the maze I had them remove their blindfolds and look back at the maze. We discussed their experiences: feelings, emotions, thoughts. Was it frustrating? Was it fun? Were some parts better than others? Did you ever feel alone? Did you know you were being watched over the entire time and that at some points you were even guided or prompted by someone who could see the whole picture? Did you realize that when you were in the hardest areas—where you were most likely to fall or hit your head—that was when we were often closest to you? Did you ever run into others? Did you help them? Did they help you? What was it like running into someone else? Did you all take the same path? Did some of you make more wrong turns than others, and hit more dead ends than others? Do you think sometimes you went down the same dead ends multiple times? What would have happened if you gave up there? What did you have to do to get to the end—to return home? Did you ever get tired or want to give up? What was it like when you reached the end? What lessons can you take from that and apply in your own life?

If you're thinking—duh that's easy: good job! But to add to that: what I have found each time I've done this (and I spent an entire summer doing this at Brighton) is that everyone has a different experience every time. While the basic overarching meaning could be the same, it applies to each of us in a different way at different points even in our lives. I have been blindfolded on a Lifeline a number of times too—sometimes I focus on how to get through my current trials, other times I notice more the moments of fun. There have been times when I have been more frustrated, and others that it was more blissful. There are so many applications and lessons. My sweet 12-year-old sister Steph pointed out that when she reached her first barrier she stopped. She didn't think she could or should keep going. We watched her stand at this barrier for quite some time. We didn’t interfere so that she could learn. Finally she continued to follow the string around the tree—there she finally found the continuation of the path, so she continued. When she approached the next tree she had already learned from her previous experience and was able to continue around the next tree with greater confidence and ease—and the next and the next. I thought that was so insightful.
 
Following the discussion, Rebekah and I then had everyone look back out over the maze. We then asked: what is holding the lifeline up? The answer: the barriers and experiences—the trees that scrape our elbows, and the random barriers that seem awkward to bend under and might even make us laugh. This life IS about our experiences—good and bad. And like on the Lifeline, we must keep going and endure to the end. It is when we keep pushing through each trial and experience, and we turn around from each wrong turn and dead end through repentance, that we will return to our Heavenly Father.

There are many more applications—that we are sent prepared with pants and closed toe shoes (Book of Mormon, Prophets), that we are never alone, that sometimes we’re prompted and we listen and other times we don’t... It was interesting, another sister learned to recognize my hand by feeling for my engagement ring. When anyone else would run into her, she would feel their hand. If she did not feel the ring she continued. Have we learned to recognize the promptings of the Spirit, answers from our Heavenly Father, and our Savior? The different applications and analogies go on and on. Thus it really is great for all ages. With so many applications, we can take different things at different levels at different times in our lives. Like a parable—we understand at a depth that we are ready for.

I have done Lifelines multiple times, and each time I learn something new—whether I'm blinded, or watching over individuals on their journey “home”. This time around, I had a completely new experience. At one point I put my hands on the Lifeline next to one of my sisters. She had been on the maze a long time and was again heading down a lengthy and difficult dead end path. Often when people feel the push of my hands on the Lifeline either respond or they don’t. This sister, however, had not run into anyone in a while. She was tired and rather than simply follow the prompting, she actually grasped onto my hand and would not let go. I let her hold my hand as I guided her along for a bit. Finally, when she was moving in the right direction again, I slipped my hand out of hers so that she could continue to choose her own path. That experience was particularly moving to me as I thought about whether or not I really hold to the gospel, and my Savior; do I truly grasp to truth? I also loved that I eventually let her go again—the whole while standing close by—so that she could complete the lifeline on her own.

It really was a great experience doing the Lifeline with my family. Oh...and yes I'm totally cheesy. And you better believe I'm going to be a super cheesy Mama and wife. I have been cheesy my whole life...and I intend on keeping up my standard of cheesiness.   

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