5 Highlights for “Seeing God’s Family through the Overview Lens” by Tamara W. Runia

by | Oct 18, 2023

woman with blonde hair in blue dress

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Let’s discuss how to use this talk as a lesson. I identified FIFTEEN quotes that would make a great lesson and narrowed it to five. I went with the ones that would promote the most coordinated variety of discussion topics.

Sister Runia’s talk is impressive – it has affected my life and influenced my outlook. I adore her for giving this talk. Choosing quotes and putting them into a lesson is also somewhat tricky.

She has one main, gorgeous central point and then repeats that point in a variety of ways. It’s an effective teaching style, but it’s harder to pick quotes and do a lesson because the same central point is woven throughout.

The good news is no matter which quotes you pick – you’ll probably deliver the main message. If there is a particular quote from the talk that you want to use instead, adapt the discussion questions.

You can find her full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by Tamra W. Runia (unless otherwise noted).

Lesson Prep

  • Please don’t worry if you only get through a couple of quotes. Spiritual discussion is golden; it resonates and teaches more than a lecture covering all points will.
  • If the discussion gets too secular, pull it back to the quotes and a spiritual tone…naturally and with tact.
  • Encourage discussion by accepting all reasonable answers. Validate people for participating and be thankful they spoke up. Engage with the answer in a conversational way whenever it feels natural. Never say, “We haven’t got to that part of the lesson yet.”
  • Roll with it.

Printable Files

Quote #1 (reactions)

Possible engagement tool and warm-up: Ask your class to think back to their parents’ styles and typical reactions as they listen to this story.

I went through a rough patch my senior year in high school when I wasn’t making great choices. I remember seeing my mom crying, and I wondered if I’d disappointed her. At the time, I worried that her tears meant she’d lost hope for me, and if she didn’t feel hope for me, maybe there wasn’t a way back.

But my dad was more practiced at zooming out and taking the long view. He’d learned from experience that worry feels a lot like love, but it’s not the same. He used the eye of faith to see that everything would work out, and his hopeful approach changed me.

When I graduated from high school and went to BYU, my dad sent letters reminding me of who I was. He became my cheerleader, and everybody needs a cheerleader—someone who isn’t telling you, “You’re not running fast enough”; they’re lovingly reminding you that you can.

If you’re like me, your mind immediately relates to the mom, and you wish you could change a lot of past events. I realize I send the wrong message without intending to sometimes.

Nonetheless, let’s include the narrative about our parents’ styles for this discussion. It will help people feel more comfortable and warm up to discussing this talk.

Possible discussion questions: How did Sister Runia’s mother and father react differently? Why did Sister Runia feel her father was more effective in helping her? One parent was focused on the overall picture – how did that benefit both the parent and the child? Especially as our children grow older, why is it important to put away the improvement list and stay predominantly on the cheerleader list? What are some good examples of being a cheerleader?

Quote #2 (big picture)

Oh goodness, this is profound. Our daily lives are filled with much more glory-making than we often know.

Remember, families are a God-given laboratory where we’re figuring things out, so missteps and miscalculations are not just possible but probable. And wouldn’t it be interesting if, at the end of our lives, we could see that those relationships, even those challenging moments, were the very things that helped us to become more like our Savior? Each difficult interaction is an opportunity to learn how to love at a deeper level—a godlike level.

Let’s zoom out to view family relationships as a powerful vehicle to teach us the lessons we came here to learn as we turn to the Savior.

“Each difficult interaction is an opportunity to learn how to love at a deeper level—a godlike level.” I need to put that on my fridge!

Possible discussion questions: What is your favorite thought from this quote and why? Why is it a mistake to let our missteps and miscalculations be a prominent filter to define ourselves or anyone else? Sister Runia describes families as a God-given laboratory – how would you put that in your own words? How can challenging, heart-breaking moments help us to become more Christ-like? Finish this sentence in your own words: “Let’s zoom out to view family relationships as _______. -OR- Ask “Finish this sentence to the best of your memory: “Let’s zoom out to view family relationships as _______. (Pick someone to answer – pick more if the first person isn’t close and there are more hands, but validate everyone.)

Quote #3 (reminded)

Let’s admit, in a fallen world there’s no way to be a perfect spouse, parent, son or daughter, grandchild, mentor, or friend—but a million ways to be a good one. Let’s stay at the tree, partake of the love of God, and share it. By lifting the people around us, we ascend together.

Unfortunately, the memory of eating the fruit is not enough; we need to partake again and again in ways that reposition our lens and connect us to the heavenly overview by opening up the scriptures, which are filled with light, to chase away the darkness, staying on our knees until our casual prayer turns mighty. This is when hearts soften, and we begin to see as God sees.

Possible discussion questions: How often do you need your perspective freshened or upgraded? Why is it easy to lose focus, even on things we believe and know? In what ways can you keep your focus “zoomed out.” How essential are scriptures and prayers in 2024? When do you study the scriptures?

Quote #4 (our focus)

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. We all have families that are struggling in some way. It’s the last days and time to turn our focus on them.

In these last days, perhaps our greatest work will be with our loved ones—good people living in a wicked world. Our hope changes the way they see themselves and who they really are. And through this lens of love, they’ll see who they will become.

But the adversary does not want us or our loved ones to return home together. And because we live on a planet that is bound by time and a finite number of years, he tries to perpetuate a very real sense of panic in us. It’s hard to see, when we’re zoomed in, that our direction matters more than our speed.

This is not for your lesson, but if you are plagued by sadness or doom regarding your children or other family who currently reject the gospel, please feel relief! Joseph Smith has some beautiful things to say on that topic.

painting of colorful tree
“I am free to love and hope for errant kids and not feel the false pain of that internal, failed tug-of-war over their souls – that what is finalized here is finalized forever.”

Possible discussion questions: By a show of hands, who has family or extended family struggling with doubts and loss of faith? As we’ve discussed Sister Runia’s talk, why is it essential to zoom out our focus? Why do even tiny successes with strained relationships matter? What is the most important thing we can convey to those family members? (love, steadiness, and positive reinforcement)

Quote #5 (can do)

I love this last quote. It’s personable and brings all the concepts home. You can read this one as a closing quote or send it home as a souvenir quote.

Is there something difficult in your life right now, something you’re worried can’t be resolved? Without the eye of faith, that might feel like God has lost oversight of things, and is that true?

Or maybe your greater fear is that you’re going to go through this difficult time all by yourself, but that would mean God has abandoned you, and is that true?

It is my witness that the Savior has the ability, because of His Atonement, to turn any nightmare you are going through into a blessing. He has given us a promise “with an immutable covenant” that as we strive to love and follow Him, “all things wherewith [we] have been afflicted shall work together for [our] good.” All things.

And because we are children of the covenant, we can ask for this hopeful feeling now!

Isn’t this a great quote? “It is my witness that the Savior has the ability, because of His Atonement, to turn any nightmare you are going through into a blessing.”


Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Sister Runia’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

This is the pick-me-up lesson we’ve all been waiting for. Your group of saints will feel a lot of encouragement from this lesson. Thank you for taking the time to study it and seek resources. I’m grateful for your time and your care as a teacher. If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.Please put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.

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  1. K. T

    I’m teaching this, this Sunday and so I’m grateful to have found this website! Thank you so much Sister!

  2. Kimberly Wiff

    Add me to the list of those teaching this as a RS lesson on Sunday – And believe it or not, I’ve even been asked to give a talk on it in Sacrament in November, so it’ll be a double hitter for me, that I hope and pray knocks it out of the proverbial park, or at least gets a base hit. THANK YOU!!

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Hello Kimberly – sorry this took me so long to reply. You dear, sweet lady…I hope your lesson and talk went splendid and that you were able to express the insights of your soul. May God richly bless you always.

  3. Jill Brown Shumway

    LLP I am also teaching this lesson on Sunday. Maybe we can share if we get other ideas.

  4. LLP

    Thank you sooo much! I’m teaching this talk on RS next sunday, and you just saved my life!! So greatful for all you share here!

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Here is me repenting for not replying sooner. What a nice note to leave me. I am thankful you took the time. Hope your lesson went well!


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