Education Week: Cultivating the ‘oneness’ of eternal relationships

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Editor’s note: Education Week coverage can be found in this section of the website.

Education Week participants learned how to cultivate the “oneness” of eternal relationships Monday morning.

Associate Business Ethics Professor Bradley P. Owens shared the importance of identifying and understanding love languages in relationships, becoming “reflective listeners” and investing in others through effort and care.

“We need to flood our relationships with positive interactions,” Owens said.

Owens centered his remarks on two main points of doctrine — that oneness with God and loved ones is the base of the plan of salvation, and that covenant relationships with God enable oneness with loved ones.

Owens referred to the idea of becoming an “intentional family”, or making decisions based on a desired vision for one’s family, as crucial in maintaining perspective and allowing gospel principles to bless life at home. Owens also explained the concept of an “emotional bank account”, where subjects make “deposits” or “withdrawals” based on what they give and take in a relationship, as a means of holding each other accountable and honest.

“The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the power to enable us to be at one with God, and the most important application of that comes at home with our families,” Owens said.

Addie Blacker
Owens details the importance of emotional bank accounts and intentional family expectations during his remarks at BYU Education Week 2021. (Addie Blacker)

Owens reflected on an experience from his early days of marriage when he and his wife awoke to find their apartment flooding because of a kitchen pipe malfunction. In an increasingly chaotic series of events, the couple would end up in a car accident in the process of trying to solve their flooding problem. With everything seeming to backfire, Owens and his wife turned to the Lord.

“We decided to pray together, and we felt the same prompting that we needed to go to the temple that day,” Owens said.

The couple would head to the temple, where Owens recounted that his stress and anxiety “melted away” as his trials that day were put into an eternal perspective. Owens felt that renewing his covenants in the temple that day brought him strength and deepened his trust in God, along with his gratitude for a spouse who was willing to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.

“The covenants we make with the Savior are a model for the covenant relationship we share with our spouse,” Owens said.

Owens finished his presentation with a video based on a Singapore study where family members were asked to silently look in each other’s eyes for four minutes. Owens polled the audience members on their takeaways from the video and what they might see in performing the same experiment themselves.

One woman said the participants weren’t looking into each other’s eyes but rather into their hearts, which helped to break down barriers. Another man in attendance suggested that the positivity stemmed not only from participants seeing another but from feeling that they were being seen.

Addie Blacker
Education Week participants reflect on the video shared by Owens. (Addie Blacker)

The participants in the video clearly reflected a greater appreciation for each other following the exercise, which Owens tied back to the principles previously discussed in the lecture, particularly gratitude. Owens, closing with his testimony, mirrored the exercise with the relationship of God and His children and how people can see others the way their Heavenly Father beholds them.

“Take time to see the divinity in each other’s eyes.. covenant relationships are to help us practice grace and charity,” Owens said.

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