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11 May 2014

Thoughts for Mother's Day

Brother Holland said the following at a BYU devotional in 1982:

For my purposes today ... I have labeled my remarks “The Inconvenient Messiah.” I wish to speak this morning of the demands of discipline and discipleship, of the responsibilities we have to face when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. In the Savior’s life and in ours, Satan counters such discipline with temptations of an easier way, with an offer of “convenient Christianity.” It is a temptation Jesus resisted, and so must we. Life was very inconvenient for him, and, unless I miss my guess, it will often be so for you and for me when we take upon us his name.

 Brother Holland then went on to read and comment on the account of the temptation of the Lord:

Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit, into the wilderness, to be with God. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil, And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But Jesus answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  -JST Matthew 4:1–4

It is the temptation to be the convenient Messiah. Why do things the hard way? Why walk to the shop—or bakery? Why travel all the way home? Why deny yourself satisfaction when with ever such a slight compromise you might enjoy this much-needed nourishment? But Christ will not ask selfishly for unearned bread. ... there is no convenient Messiah. Salvation comes only through discipline and sacrifice.

Mothering is working for the Salvation of our families.

But this doctrine of it may just be one of the best-kept secrets in the Church. It's about salvation.

Think about the Plan. We'd come to earth, we'd get a body, we'd be tested, and have an opportunity to walk by faith. When given the choice between good and evil, we're here to prove to ourselves (because God knew from the beginning) that we really will choose the good.

So we have a family. We're born. We. Forget. Everything.

How terrifying is that? We come to take a test, and we're told up front that there's going to be a Veil of Forgetfulness that means that all the studying, or whatever it is you do to prepare goes away. Who agrees to that kind of thing? It sounds crazy! But not only did we agree, we shouted for joy! Why did we do that?

We knew we would have a Mother. Our own personal angel, guide, teacher, mentor, and care-giver, and her primary role -the main thing she's supposed to do- would be to nurture and to teach, so that all that important stuff that babies forget when they arrive as little bundles of cuteness and joy could be re-learned as quickly as possible.

Our world no longer values mothering, but we are to be a peculiar people. We are to buck the trend; stand out from the crowd. President Spencer W. Kimball said,

“...I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the café.

“No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children.

“Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and unembarrassed help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait.

“When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility and goodness, then you have achieved your accomplishments supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy through time and eternity” (Source)

The prophets know that not every family is the same, and that some mothers labor for the salvation of their families under very trying circumstances. President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed this in the October 1983 Conference when he said:

“To you women who find it necessary to work when you would rather be at home, may I speak briefly. I know that there are many of you who find yourselves in this situation. Some of you have been abandoned and are divorced, with children to care for. Some of you are widows with dependent families. I honor you and respect you for your integrity and spirit of self-reliance. I pray that the Lord will bless you with strength and great capacity, for you need both. You have the responsibilities of both breadwinner and homemaker. I know that it is difficult. I know that it is discouraging. I pray that the Lord will bless you with a special wisdom and the remarkable talent needed to provide your children with time and companionship and love and with that special direction which only a mother can give. I pray also that he will bless you with help, unstintingly given, from family, friends, and the Church, which will lift some of the burden from your shoulders and help you in your times of extremity. ... 

“Now to others who work when it is not necessary and who, while doing so, leave children to the care of those who often are only poor substitutes, I offer a word of caution. Do not follow a practice which will bring you later regret. If the purpose of your daily employment is simply to get money for a boat or a fancy automobile or some other desirable but unnecessary thing, and in the process you lose the companionship of your children and the opportunity to rear them, you may find that you have lost the substance while grasping at the shadow” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 114; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 83).

From the Proclamation on the Family we learn that mothers are "primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." That's "it." Mothers nurture children. That's their main thing. You can say it in so few words, yet it will take a lifetime to really figure out how to do it, to know what it all means.

Sure, superficially, it's a messy job, and sometimes leaves you coated in grime its best not to consider too closely. But that's not what it's about. My husband sometimes comes home with grease smears on his shirts, or scraped up knuckles. But nobody thinks that's what his job is about; he works on radiation equipment for cancer centers. Mess is incidental; Mothering is eternal.

But Mom can't do it if she's not there. And there's so many voices saying to her that she doesn't need to be there. So terribly many things saying to women, "Never mind that homemaker stuff. Nobody does that anymore." Or sometimes it's something more along the lines of, "You need that new gadget. You deserve it; you need it. You're going to have to get a job." It's a lie. It's all lies. Our children need us. Your children need you. My children need me. And we can't swap places and expect it to work.

In the October 1942 Conference, President Heber J. Grant taught:

This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it - only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hand of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.

The Lord, in His wisdom, sends us the children we need - and the ones that need us. He sends us souls that will blossom in the strengths that we have to offer, and that are able to weather our weaknesses. He sends us the children that can teach the things we need to learn, and that need to learn what we can teach. He sent my children to me, and He sent your children to you, and that was not an accident. From President Benson:

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.

Mothering is amazing. It can be easy to focus on the hard or monotonous parts of being at home, but Mothering is amazing. There is laundry and dishes and meal after meal to prepare. Scraped knees and hurt feelings, moments of anguish. But Mothering is also that little boy running across the whole backyard to give you a hug and just as fast running back to his play. Mothering is also gifts of dandelions… or bugs. My one brother used to bring Mom bugs. She didn’t like it at the time, but she smiles when she remembers now. Mothering is squeals of laughter and cozy story times on a rainy day. It’s staying up late and talking with your teen and having the Spirit feed you words she needs to hear.

Mothers' Day is hard for me. I struggled over this talk. I called my Mom and cried, and we talked about a lot of things. Among other things, we were talking about the good things that bring balance she said, "It’s not really pride, it’s just real, true, joy at seeing your children doing what they are supposed to be doing. It’s hard and it’s difficult, but the balance is there. They say that there must be opposition in all things, and the joy is there. It makes the worry and the all the agonizing melt away. You forget it. It’s hard right now, because it’s here and its present and its right in your face. But when it’s done, and things get straightened out, it will all melt away, and it won’t matter. And you’ll look back and it will be ok. It won’t hurt. You’ll remember, and draw on it to help other people that’s good too." Mom talked about how it's not really very surprising that things get hard, because the joy in Mothering is immense.

When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, I am amazed that Esau would sell his birthright for no more than a single meal. He did not understand the value of the Priesthood. In our day, many voices seek to put a mess of pottage into attractive packaging, all the while running down the value of Mothering. But no matter how beautiful the bowl, pottage is still pottage. Mothering is about salvation.

I've seen, time and time again, feminists and others try to convince women that something else, anything else, is more important than being at home. They're wrong. One summer I sat in my grandma's living room, and we talked about feminists. Grandma was born in 1927, and she was in her late 70s when we talked. She lived through some amazing history. She married my Grandpa in 1950, and they lived 38 years together. He died in 1988, and she went on another quarter century, looking forward to the reunion. She saw the rise of feminism first hand. This is what she told me:

Feminists should have stopped with the vote.

The more I think about it, the more profoundly right I think she was. All this "equality" stuff has lead women to trade something precious - partnership with God Himself - for a mess of pottage. A bit of alphabet soup after your name, that a corner office, the latest toys, they hardly compare. The personal development you might find in the workforce can't possibly hold a candle to what He would teach you in the walls of your own home.

Is it hard? Heck yeah! It's really hard! But, did you expect salvation to be convenient? Have the prophets said it would be easy? Do you even want it to be easy? In the words of the poet:

Good timber does not grow in ease.
The stronger wind, the tougher trees,
The farther sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snows,
In tree or man, good timber grows.
-Douglas Mallock

I want to finish with a final quote, from President Joseph F. Smith:

To do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman. ... We should never be discouraged in those daily tasks which God has ordained to the common lot of man. ... Let us not be trying to substitute an artificial life for the true one."
(Her Blessing - Her Calling; BYU Speeches)

There’s hope and there’s beauty, and joy. There’s sunshine and shadow, like there is with anything else, but the whole experienced is magnified and deepened by the love that you feel. Love that is strong when you first hold them in your arms, but grows and deepens as you serve. And you do your best, and you lean on the Lord, and He makes you more than you are on your own. He gives you the love to overcome the fear, and the strength to keep going through the sleepless nights, and the eyes to see the joy when all seems dark.

Mothering is partnering with God in the work of Salvation, and there is nothing that is more important than that.


Rozy Lass said...

Excellent talk! Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Mother's Day to you.

Cellista said...

This is beautiful! I especially like "Mess is incidental; Mothering is eternal." That really helps me view my daily life in a better light!

I had to talk today too. My husband thinks I should post it on my blog, but it's kind of messy. I'm a much better speaker than writer, so maybe if I can tighten up my notes a bit, I'll post it.


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