Wayward Children and 2nd Chances in Heaven

by | Feb 27, 2023

painting of colorful tree

Authentic Joseph Smith (No. 11)

Part of the Joseph Smith, Jr. Series

All blue quotes by Joseph Smith (unless otherwise noted).

From Wilford Woodruff’s diary (April 1844)

Sincere Disclosure

Do you have wayward children? This article might be something you need to hear.

The teachings shared today by Joseph Smith migrated deep into my soul and tossed out some deep-seated grief and disappointment. They replaced dread and fear with hope and love. It’s changed how I think about my family and even how I talk to them and seek them out. You see, I have kind of (increasingly) given up. The Last Days are here.

I’m talking about wayward adult children. Adorable children I was certain would embrace the gospel as dearly as I have. Instead, my beloved posterity chooses darker paths, philosophies of men, and spiritual self-destruction.

Talk about grief and mourning…and surprise.

How could this happen? They went to seminary; they experienced family home evenings. I certainly put a lot of effort into passing on a rich legacy of gospel precepts and living taught through the scriptures and observing the Sabbath. They had an excellent gospel start.

This precious memory of motherhood hangs above my office door.

Can you tell any of that took place? No, not really.

Of course, some of my Job-like friends have been sure to point out the lack of my blessings compared to their righteous posterity. They feel they are chosen while others with unbelieving kids are not.

Several cultural teachings passed off as doctrine support such fallacies and also lead us to despair. I am guilty of letting them influence my self-talk.

Greater truth and reason would point us to Heavenly Father – the Man of Holiness who has a few wayward children Himself.

Thank you, dear Joseph, for reminding me of the truth. I am free to love and hope for the rescue of errant kids and not feel the false pain of that “failed” tug-of-war over their souls. Or believe what is finalized here is finalized forever.

Jubilant news! Christ’s atonement extends far beyond the grave. Earth life is round one. We’re not taught that, are we? Things like “once you land in a terrestrial or telestial kingdom, that’s forever – there can be no repentance, redemption, progress or no self-development after that.”

There are no such doctrines, only people who interpret what the scriptures say and what their cultural bias has taught them to read into it. Sometimes we focus on the seeming message of one verse and ignore many others that would shed more light and understanding.

Christ Will Redeem All Who Choose It – This Life or The Next

Joseph Smith, as recorded by Wilford Woodruff

God dwells in eternity, and he does not view things as we do, the greatest responsibility laid upon us in this life, is in relation to our dead. Paul said we cannot be made perfect without [them], for it is necessary that the seals are in our hands to seal our children & our dead for the fulness of the dispensation of times,

A dispensation to meet the promises made by Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for the salvation of man. All sins and blasphemy were to be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost*. God has made provision for every spirit in the eternal world, and the spirits of our friends should be searched out & saved, Any man that has a friend in eternity can save him if he has not committed the unpardonable sin, He cannot be damned through all eternity, there is a possibility for his escape in a little time, If a man has knowledge he can be saved. If he has been guilty of great sins he is punished for it, when he consents to obey the gospel whether Alive or dead, he is saved, his own mind damns him. I have no fear of hellfire that doesn’t exist. No man can commit the unpardonable sin, until He receives the Holy Ghost, All will suffer until they obey Christ himself… Jesus Christ will save all except the sons of perdition**.

*** What are sons of perdition and the sin against the Holy Ghost? Joseph Smith says, “Jesus Christ will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin they must receive the Holy Ghost have the heavens opened unto them, & know God, & then sin against him.” (as recorded in Wilford Woodruff’s diary and numerous other places)

Elder Gong

God knows and loves us perfectly. “God is not mocked,” nor can He be deceived. With perfect mercy and justice, He encircles in His arms of safety the humble and penitent. Gratefully, we know the living and “the dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God” and Christ’s Atonement. In the spirit world, even those in sin and transgression have opportunity to repent. (Happy and Forever – October 2022)

Extraordinary Revelation to Joseph F. Smith

Doctrine and Covenants 138:32, 58-59

32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.

58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,

59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

Final Thoughts

Does this mean don’t worry about choices in this life and all will be well in the end? Not in the least – the scriptures are clear that the suffering for poor decisions will be ultra significant and every sinner will feel the most profound regret and unfathomable remorse – there will be a heavy price and a not-so-short period of excruciating self-hell beyond what we can now comprehend. Procrastinating repentance is an ignorant strategy.

Does this mean we stop reaching or trying because it will all work out? Not at all. However, I don’t need to feel so panicked or disheartened when it doesn’t seem to work. I can let genuine love and good cheer without fear and without apprehension be the foundation of our relationships. Their choices no longer create a finalized hell for me. I hope, I reach; I love. Then I trust the Savior to work it out with them.

It’s a greater peace of mind and rest to know Christ’s plan of atonement reaches far past the grave.

Bonus Quotes by Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith, as recorded by Thomas Bullock

All sins & all blasphemy. every transgression. that man may be guilty of there is a Salvation for him or in the world to come —every Spirit in the Eternal world can be ferreted out & saved unless he has committed. that Sin which cant be redeemd to him—that God has wrought. out salvation. for all men unless they have committed. a certain. sin. A friend who has got a friend in the world can save him unless he has committed. the unpardonable sin. & so you can see how far you can be Savior [speaking of temple work]. There is no thing that a man can commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body & there is a way possible for escape…. [for] those that are without. wisdom until they get exalted to wisdom  (from the diary of Thomas Bullock – a faithful scribe)

Joseph Smith, as recorded by William Clayton

for all spirits who have not obeyed the gospel in the flesh must obey the gospel or be damned. Is there no preparation—no salvation for our fathers & friends who have died and not obeyed the decrees of the son of man—Would to God I had 40 days & nights I would let you know that I am not a fallen prophet—What kind of beings can be saved although their bodies are mouldering in the dust? When his commandments teach us it is in view of eternity.

The greatest responsibility in this world is to seek after our dead. They without us cannot be made perfect —It is necessary that those who come after us should have salvation in common with us—& thus hath God laid this upon the [indecipherable] of the world hence the saying of Elijah. Speak in relation to the provisions God has made to suit man’s conditions. What hath Jesus said?— All sins & all blasphemies every transgression except one provision in this world or the world of spirit.

Hence God has made a provision that every spirit can be ferreted out in that world that has not sinned the unpardonable sin neither in this world nor in the world of spirits. You can save every man who has a friend in the eternal world who hath not committed the unpardonable sin. A man cannot commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body there is a way for his escape. Knowledge saves a man and in the world of spirits a man can’t be exalted but by knowledge. So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments he must abide without salvation.

A man is his own torment. Hence the saying they shall go into the lake that burns with fire & is as exquisite as a lake & so is the torments of a man—I said no man could commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body—Hence the salvation that the saviour wrought out for the salvation of a man if it did not [indecipherable] him in one place it would another— (diary of William Clayton)

Author’s Notes

The Joseph Smith Series comes from, in part, a book called “The Words of Joseph Smith.”

Note: usually, the book costs a small fortune ($150-$250) because it is out of print. But I found it for free at the BYU Religious Studies Center. (Thank you, BYU)

(P.S. I receive no compensation for any recommendations – I like sharing.)

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  1. Justine L

    Thank you Shawnie for all the things you share! You are an inspiration to me. I love all of your insights.
    This is the quote I like most when I think of my wayward kids. I love the imagery of the “tentacles of Divine Providence” reaching out and drawing them back.

    “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Oh my goodness, that is an amazing quote. Thank you so much for sharing this! I sincerely hope parents everywhere can find comfort in their efforts and kindness and love given. It eventually has the effect that was intended.

  2. Dusty Edwards

    Your words and ALL the things you share are such a great blessing to me- Thank you!!

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Well Dusty, you are so welcome. I loved this quote so much, I couldn’t wait to get it up. It did a lot for me too. Thank you for your effective words of encouragement. Godspeed you.

  3. Ken

    I always feel bad for parents who seem to have given up on their children and are lost in despair. This is a great compilation of many of Joseph’s teachings as well as Elder Gong. There are also several other prophets and apostles who have repeated these thoughts that seem to have remained hidden for years in the musty attic of LDS tradition, not doctrine . Thank you.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Yes! I loved the way you put that – “the musty attic of LDS tradition, not doctrine.” There are several great quotes here and there but somehow errant cultural teachings are repeated more often and therefore leave stronger impressions. It certainly happened to me.

  4. Karen Lambson

    Thank you!

    • Shawnie Cannon

      You are welcome!


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