When Mordecai asked Esther to plead with the king on behalf of their people, her first response was simple: I can’t do that. It’s not possible. No one can approach the king without being invited, not even me, and I haven’t been invited in over a month. (See Esther 4:11.)
Mordecai’s response was stern:
Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?Esther 4:13-14
Why was Mordecai able so speak so boldly to Esther? In part because they were related. He was her cousin, and he had served as her guardian since her parents’ death. Sister Elaine L. Jack pointed out that those words must have been very difficult for Esther to receive:
Because families are close to our hearts, they make us hurt sometimes…. Did Queen Esther really want to hear from…Mordecai, “Who knoweth whether thou art come … for such a time as this?” (Esth. 4:14.)“Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” General Conference, October 1995
Family bonds are strong, which enables us to be more direct with one another than would be possible without the relationship. But when we receive difficult messages from family members, we have a choice. We can receive and act on the message like Esther, or we can become defensive and angry.
Laman and Lemuel apparently ignored the stern warnings they received from their father, Lehi. (See 1 Nephi 8:37-38, 2 Nephi 1.) Corianton seems to have responded favorably to corrective feedback from his father, Alma. (See Alma 39:9-13.) When Ammon’s brother Aaron pointed out an apparent lack of humility, Ammon disagreed, but it doesn’t appear to have harmed their relationship. (See Alma 26:10.)
The choice is ours. It’s never fun to receive corrective feedback, but we can often learn from it. Even when we disagree, we can preserve the relationship by responding graciously.
Today, I will listen to difficult messages from family members. I will take seriously their points of view and strive to avoid defensiveness in my response.