Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts from Mother's Day

My thoughts are focused on The Family: A Proclamation to the World and a talk by Sheri Dew from 2001, "Are we not all Mothers?".

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we learn that men and women are endowed with a divine destiny “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

I think it is so interesting that Heavenly Father made men and women different and that He created us to fill different and specific roles. It says that our gender is an essential characteristic for our eternal purpose. This of course makes me think of motherhood. Men cannot carry and deliver their children, that is a role specifically designed for women. Even when the dear husbands who have stayed by their wifes side through every step of pregnancy, labor, and delivery wishing desperately that they could step in for a minute and take that discomfort upon themselves, they could not. I think it is an amazing sacrifice and trial men must go through.

The Proclamation goes on to say” The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” 

What a responsibility! Heavenly Father has entrusted generations of parents with His sons and daughters. I was overwhelmed by this thought often as I lay awake at night during our pregnancy with Anna. It was overwhelming to know that I was about to bring one of Heavenly Fathers children back home with me from the hospital. It filled me with an urgency to get my life in order, to have a home where the spirit would be comfortable, where my daughter, really Heavenly Fathers daughter would be able to grow close to Him. What a beautiful thing.

I absolutely love the talk by Sheri Dew ‘Are we not all Mothers?’. I feel that before I was a mother I was too quick to assume no one was looking up to me and that I wouldn’t be a roll model until I had a little mini me.
Sister Dew said, “Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand “steadfast and immovable” 2 regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.”

When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living” 3 —and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, 4 righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. 5 Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.”

While reading Sister Dews talk I started thinking back on my own childhood and all the woman I looked up to as mother figures. I remember going over to friends houses and calling their moms my “mom number 2”. While I was using it as a silly term of endearment, I do remember walking onto their homes and picking out traits I wanted to have when I grew up. I was blessed to have teachers, friend’s parents, neighbors, young women’s leaders, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, an amazing mother-in-law and my own very dear mother to look up to.

“President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that “God planted within women something divine.” 6 That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood. Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”

Sheri Dew goes on to say, “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.”

That statement is so empowering to me. Men have been given the sacred responsibility that is the priesthood while women were given motherhood. None of us could have gained a mortal body without a mother, none of us could learn what we needed to know without the help of mother figures (primary teachers, youth leaders, parents and so on) teaching us the plan of salvation and helping us to live the Commandments.

Alma 57: 25-27 says; And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was anot one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
And now, their apreservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous bpower of God, because of their exceeding cfaith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.
Now this was the afaith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are bfirm, and they do put their trust in God continually.”

We learn why they had such faith in Alma 56:47-48 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the aliberty of their bfathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their cmothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their amothers, saying: We bdo not doubt our mothers knew it.”

Every time I read those scriptures I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose. While we lived in New York I worked full time for a little company in Chelsea. I loved working there and felt a great sense of purpose, I felt needed, and I felt like I was carrying my own weight. After having Anna I continued working part time and begin to feel a pull in two directions. A part of me felt like I had to keep working, so many other mothers worked, and New York is expensive! The other part of me felt I was doing Anna and myself a huge injustice and that I would be depriving her of many learning experiences by not being with her at home. This is a struggle I cannot adequately put into words. Even after we had moved and I stopped looking for work here in Utah, I still struggled. I felt I had lost purpose in my life, that now I was ONLY a mom. Only a mom, are you kidding me? Look at what Sheri Dew, Alma, and the Presidency of the Church have said. I want my children to learn about the gospel from me, I want primary, school, and society to enforce what I am teaching my children in the home. I want my children to be able to say “I do not doubt my mother knew it”.  What we teach through word and action is so much more important than anything we do outside the home.

Sheri Dew goes on to say “As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues?”

While its Mothers day and my thoughts sound directed to the women only, I think what Sister Dew said here is really important for all of us. Men and women can be good examples of virtue.  In 2011 October Conference Elain S. Dalton stated “The most important thing a father can do for his [daughter] is to love [her] mother.”1 By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion, and devotion. She will learn from your example what to expect from young men and what qualities to seek in a future spouse. You can show your daughter by the way you love and honor your wife that she should never settle for less. Your example will teach your daughter to value womanhood. You are showing her that she is a daughter of our Heavenly Father, who loves her.” (Love Her Mother, October 2011 Conference)

Zach will continue to play an important role in teaching Anna about her divine worth and eternally important role of motherhood. Just like the Proclimation on the Family says “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations”. By the way parents treat each other and by the way our children and youth see all adults interact they will learn as the stripling warriors learned weather or not we KNOW.

There are 4 things that I have really taken away from this while preparing my remarks.
1) Each of us are a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, we each have a divine nature and destiny. 
2)  Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness… mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations
3)   Motherhood is as divinely called and as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself
4)   We each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation

I am so grateful for a mother and father that cared enough about me to teach me about the sacred truths they knew as best as they could. I am equally grateful for in-laws that raised a man I am proud to call my husband. I am grateful that he holds the priesthood and the he uses it to bless our home. I cannot even begin to express in words my profound appreciation for the chance I have had to become a mother to Anna. I am grateful for all the women I looked up to and for all those that will become good examples for my children.

I know that Heavenly Father knows and loves each and everyone of us. I know he loves us so much so that he sent his only begotten son to suffer and die for us so we can return to live with him and our families again. I am grateful for his infinite wisdom and love.

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