President Hinckley said this about his relationship with his wife Marjorie: “I’ve tried to recognize [her] individuality, her personality, her desires, her background, her ambitions. Let her fly. Yes, let her fly! Let her develop her own talents. Let her do things her way.” I read this last night as I was on a plane to France with my sister, having said goodbye to my family for over a week. I had to laugh as I realized that I was literally the beneficiary of a wonderful wife who let me fly so I could come and watch the dedication of the Paris temple this weekend (while she wears herself out watching the little ones). My wife has in many ways let me “fly” as I’ve pursued schooling in a place far from our home and worked at growing in my own career over the years. I hope that in some way I can follow the example of President Hinckley and likewise let her fly and “get out of her way, and marvel at what she does.” The Quaker proverb so beloved by Elder Hales perhaps describes best how we should support each other as couples, “Thee lift me, and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”
Perhaps this idea of helping our spouses to “fly” and develop their own talents and individuality is really just a reflection of how the Lord treats us as He helps us to grow and develop while on earth. The scriptures in fact uses a similar metaphor in how the Lord supports the faithful. Isaiah put it like this: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). In our dispensation the Lord used the image this way when speaking about Lyman Wight: “I will bear him up as on eagles’ wings; and he shall beget glory and honor to himself and unto my name” (D&C 124:18). The Lord, figuratively speaking, lifts us up on wings so we can fly. The imagery actually came from Lord’s words to the people of Israel after he led them out of Egypt: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people” (Exodus 19:4-5). The Lord symbolically raised them up and carried them out of Egypt, and He promised to make of them a “treasure”—a promise that I take to mean that He would help them develop into the best kind of people. That is something they never could have done by themselves stuck in bondage Egypt. In Malachi the Lord made this promise about the help He provides the faithful: “Unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (3 Nephi 25:2). Again I see this metaphor as one suggesting that the Lord will lift us up, make us better, and help us reach our full potential as sons and daughters of God. His purpose is solely to help us gain our immortality and eternal life, but we have to get on and let Him take us for the ride.