In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would post a talk I gave a couple years ago on Mother's Day. I hope all you wonderful mothers had a great day. Thanks, Mom, for being my shining example and my dear friend. I love you! Happy Mother's Day!
In a talk by Jeffrey Holland, he quoted some lines attributed to Victor Hugo which read:
“She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness.
‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.
‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.
‘No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’”
I loved this short passage, because to me that is the very essence of a mother—supreme love and sacrifice. We honor our mothers each year on this day because of the tremendous love they have given and the many sacrifices they have made for us. What a wonderful blessing it is in one’s life to have had such a mother. They mold us into strong adults and then continue to be a source of strength and support and an example throughout our lives. I was blessed with such a mother and I am so grateful for her guidance and love.
The work of mother is of extreme importance in Heavenly Father’s plan and it is a work entrusted to every woman. In the beginning God created the earth and placed man upon it. In Moses 3:18, 21-22 it says, “And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him…”And I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and I took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof; And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
Eve was to be a help meet for Adam. In Daughters of God, by Michael Wilcox, he says, “The word help is translated from a Hebrew root meaning ‘to surround, to protect, and to aid’… In describing Eve as a help for Adam, the Lord adds the adjective meet. In this context meet means ‘equal to, suitable for, becoming, right, fit, worthy, sufficient, competent, well-placed, necessary, proper, fulfilling, and satisfying.’ Eve was all of this to Adam. She was equal to him. She was suitable, becoming, and of value. Her help and companionship were right. She was fit, worthy, sufficient, and competent. She was well-placed beside Adam, a necessary and proper companion. Her help was fulfilling and brought satisfaction. Meet also suggests that Eve would complement Adam, would make him complete.”
The metaphor of the rib is also an important indication of the relationship between man and woman. Pres. Spencer W. Kimball said that “the story of the rib, of course, is figurative.” Pres. George Albert Smith said: “In showing this relationship, by a symbolic representation, God didn’t say that woman was to be taken from a bone in the man’s head that she should rule over him, nor from a bone in his foot that she should be trampled under his feet, but from a bone in his side to symbolize that she was to stand by his side, to be his companion, his equal, and his helpmeet in all their lives together.”
Men and women are to be equal partners with different responsibilities delegated to each in order to perform the Lord’s work here on earth. The men are given the priesthood and the charge to provide for their families “by the sweat of thy face.” Women, from the days of Eve, have been given the role of mother.
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many” (Moses 4:26).
Michael Wilcox continues to write:
“Eve’s name in Hebrew means ‘life-giver.’ Both Adam and the Lord considered this the most appropriate and worthy name to give the first woman of many women, the ‘mother of all living.’ There is dignity in the thought that the first woman’s name was essentially the title of mother… Sister Patricia Holland gives added insight to what it means to be a life-giver. [She said,] ‘Eve was given the identity of ‘the mother of all living’—years, decades, perhaps centuries before she ever bore a child. It would appear that her motherhood preceded her maternity, just as surely as the perfection in the Garden preceded the struggles of mortality. I believe mother is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words, with meaning after meaning after meaning. . . . I believe with all my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about our nature.’”
Brother Wilcox continues, “There is a difference between the labor of Eve and the labor of Adam. The Lord told Adam, ‘By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ (Moses 4:25). Whatever our occupations in this life may be, there will come a time when they will not be necessary. None of the means by which men eat bread by the sweat of their face will continue in the eternities. Our occupations allow us to live and learn. They edify and instruct, but they are essentially aspects of the telestial world in which we live. On the other hand, Eve’s role as life-giver is eternal and celestial. It was revealed to Joseph Smith that the life-giving power of women fulfills ‘the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified’ (D&C 132:63). Adam shared in this great work, but Eve was the primary life-giver. Her labor would not change after the resurrection. Is it any wonder the adversary has tried so diligently to demean the labor that Eve and her daughters perform? Is it any wonder that he has tried to convince both women and men that the temporal labor of the lone and dreary world is more important than the eternal labor of a celestial one?”
What a blessing we as women have to be mothers. It is our divine destiny, a celestial work we can perform here and in the eternities. Sheri L. Dew stated, “No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, ‘I am just a mother,’ for mothers heal the souls of men.”
This is true whether we give birth to children of our own or whether our charge is to “give life” to children around us. Michael Wilcox wrote, “Life-giver is an appropriate name because women not only give birth to children but continue to give life to their families and others. My mother gave me the gift of life when she gave me birth, but she continued to give me life as I grew, through her example, teachings, sacrifices, and love. Even today she continues to give me life through her counsel and wisdom.”
Sister Patricia Holland taught that “some women give birth and raise children but never ‘mother’ them. Others, whom I love with all my heart, ‘mother’ all their lives but have never given birth. All of us are Eve’s daughters whether we are married or single, maternal or barren; and we can provide something of that divine pattern, that maternal prototype for each other and for those who come after us.”
We all know women who are single or who haven’t been able to have children who are mothers to the children around them, having a profound influence on their lives and who they become. We also know women, who although they have many children of their own, still reach out to those children outside their family who need their help and love and guidance. It is in our nature and it is our role as women to mother. Perhaps this instinct makes us good companions to our husbands as well, who also need a little mothering from their wives now and then. We can be mothers throughout our lives to Heavenly Father’s children of all ages, old and young. We continue to need the influence of mothers into adulthood and feel a special place in our heart for those who reach out to us with love and guidance. Many of the women in this ward have felt like second mothers to me and I love them for their influence in my life and for the love they have shown me.
Sheri L. Dew in her talk “Are We Not All Mothers?” spoke about this sacred role of mother and the charge that is given to all women. I apologize for the length of this quote, but she says it so well and summarizes much of what I’ve already said in such an eloquent way, that I would like to read it:
“Our Father has entrusted us as women with His children, and He has asked us to love them and help lead them safely past the dangers of mortality back home.
“Loving and leading—these words summarize not only the all-consuming work of the Father and the Son, but the essence of our labor, for our work is to help the Lord with His work. How, then, may we as Latter-day women of God best help the Lord with His work?
“Prophets have repeatedly answered this question, as did the First Presidency six decades ago when they called motherhood ‘the highest, holiest service … assumed by mankind.
“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’ 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’—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, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. 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.
“President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that ‘God planted within women something divine.’ 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.’
“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.’”
The Father has given men the Priesthood, with its attendant blessings and responsibilities, and this is their role in building up the Kingdom of God on earth. As women, we are given the charge to be mothers, a task of equal importance in the work of the Lord, for we are to bring children to this their second estate as they are born into physical bodies, but we are also given the responsibility to help them keep their second estate, through our examples of righteousness and our loving guidance. Truly everything is done in the wisdom and order of the Lord. He has ordered his kingdom on earth in such a way so as to ensure that through the priesthood, we receive the blessings of sacred ordinances and covenants to guide us back to him and the guidance and inspiration of the men who righteously bear this authority, and also to ensure that we also receive the loving guidance to remain faithful to those sacred ordinances and covenants through the influence of the mothers in our lives. We each have a duty to each other as we strive individually to return to our Father’s presence. We can thus see the importance of the first two commandments, first, that we love God, and second, that we love our neighbors as ourselves. Certainly these two commandments are the instruction manual for a mother.
Sister Dew taught, “Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God.”
She went on to say, “As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn’t stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won’t tell you that, but the Spirit will. We just can’t let the Lord down. And if the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence.”
Truly in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, those righteous women who reside there will be called Mother by many. We are told that no faithful woman will be denied any eternal blessing. Although some may not have the blessing of children of their own in this life, Pres. Brigham Young promises all righteous women, “You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations.”
May we remain faithful that we may receive these precious promises. May we recognize the sacred responsibility and duty that has been entrusted to us as mothers. Pres. Hinckley spoke to mothers and those who will become mothers saying:
“What a wonderful thing you have done as mothers. You have given birth and nurtured children. You have entered into a partnership with our Father in Heaven to give mortal experience to His sons and daughters. They are His children and they are your children, flesh of your flesh, for whom He will hold you responsible. You have rejoiced over them, and in many cases you have sorrowed. They have brought you happiness as no one else could. They have brought you pain as none other could. . . “
“You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out. It will not be the money you have made. It will not be the cars you have owned. It will not be the large house in which you live. The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my children done?
“If the answer is that they have done very well, then your happiness will be complete. If they have done less than well, then no other satisfaction can compensate for your loss.” (“Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov. 200, 97)
May the Lord bless mothers. They embody love and sacrifice and goodness. May we always honor our mothers for the richness they give our lives and for all that they have done and continue to do to guide us along the path to our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for my dear mother and her many sacrifices for me and the love she shows me daily. I am supremely grateful for the blessing of being a mother to my sweet children. May the Lord grant us mothers that we may do His work among His children with His inspiration and guidance always, that we may help bring about their salvation as well as our own. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I'm sorry that I have been such a slacker! We got home from our vacation on Monday night and I have been so busy trying to catch up on things since we got home. So I haven't had much time for blogging. I have a feeling that this last month of school is going to stay pretty busy and then it will be summer, which always seems to make it hard to have anything really scheduled for me, so I have decided to change the format for my posts. I will still continue to do my posts regularly, but just not on such a scheduled basis like the previous few weeks. This has been such a great way for me to study the scriptures, I've really enjoyed it and look forward to doing more. Thanks for reading--it's helped me stay motivated to continue, which has really been a blessing to me and I hope for some of you.