I wrote this sometime ago.. but, since this is my only real personal history I wanted it included here.
Mother’s Day 2006
Sacrament Meeting Talk
Between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I was able to travel to Rome and view in person Michelangelo’s famous sculpture the Pieta’. As many of you know, the sculpture depicts the crucified Christ cradled in the arms of his grieving mother, Mary. I don’t know if the moment depicted in the sculpture could have actually taken place, or if the sculpture is more a representation of emotion. In Luke chapter 2:35 Simeon speaks to Mary and says, "Yea a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." How profoundly that verse speaks of motherhood. For when does a mother not pain over every pain and joy with every joy of her child.
As I contemplated this sculpture, I thought of the Christmas story and of the Loving mother" who "laid her baby in a manger filled with hay." The mother who listened to an angel and then, "pondered these things in her heart." Of all the mothers in scripture maybe mother Mary is the one we know most about and that seems so little, yet she is revered around the world and even worshiped in some faiths. As Latter Day Saints we honor her as the chosen mother of the Savior of the world. But, it is her role as mother that I think I most relate to. The swell of happiness she must have felt as she saw the Savior living the life he was meant to live, the pain she must have felt at his pain. The love she must have had for this most precious Son. These are things we know something of as we become parents.
To be a mother, is to know the anxious hours of a long night with a fevered child, the heartache of their mistakes, the worry for their safety, but it is also to know the expanding joy of their laughter, the satisfaction of their achievement and the deep gratitude for their existence.
There are moments in family life that have a quality of perfect bliss. I was raised in a family the oldest of seven children and even in that often chaotic environment, my dear mother once remarked, "I don’t know if I want to go to heaven because I think I will miss this life too much." In reply, my father said, "But this wonderful day is just what heaven will always be like."
Emily Dickinson wrote the lines, "Who has not found the heaven below will fail of it above. God’s residence is next to mine, His furniture is love."
We have a brief glimpse of the heart of our Heavenly Father when we can look at a child and love them just because they are. My heart has filled with joy and peace as I have looked into the sleeping face of my sweet Charity and felt that she was attended by the angels. In turn, I know that it is my duty to her to teach her where she has come from, knowing that the greatest self-esteem comes not from any special talent or gift she might have, but from her divine inheritance as a daughter of God.
My daughter Charity has a rich and beautiful heritage. She has many ancestors who have paved the way and have given her lasting legacy in the gospel of Jesus Christ and I hope that she will emulate as many of their good qualities as she can. As President Hinckley has put it, I hope she won’t ‘drop the ball’. However, mortals are mortal and none of them perfect. A friend of mine once wrote that it is good to revere our progenitors, but we can’t get too entangled with that because ‘for every one that died gloriously in battle, there is sure to be one that was hung as a horse thief’. While in Charity’s case, I am sure that is an overstatement, it is her Heavenly parents, I want most for her to be like.
In the 1959, October issue of the Children’s Friend, Anna Johnson wrote just a few precious words, "I am a child of royal birth My Father is King of heaven and earth. My spirit was born in the courts on high, a child beloved, a princess am I."
These words could not be more true. I know that I have a princess in my home. And, I believe that when we get to know each other well enough, when we learn to love each other, when we see each other and our children as our Heavenly Father sees us we truly can see the royal lineage of our Father in Heaven all about us.
Knowing this teaches us to be less judgmental of each other. I shouldn’t judge another parent because I know how hard I’m trying and how often I think, "What will my actions today cost me in psychotherapy bills tomorrow?"
A good bishop once counseled, "Mothers should be trusted. Heavenly Father is aware of which child goes to which mother."
Mothers are different.
In my own family my two Grandmothers could not have been more different.
One graduated with a degree in nursing, had ten children, seven of them boys, was an avid sports fan and a great cook of large portions of good Mormon cooking all the while working outside the home as a labor and delivery nurse by necessity to help support her large family. I never saw her with makeup or any other form of feminine adornments but she always knew the scores of all the games.
My other Grandmother graduated from Utah State with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is fancy! She is the mother of six children 3 girls and 3 boys. I have seen many pictures of her in glamourous dresses she made with high heels and red lipstick. She was a homemaker by trade, artistic in every way and a relief society president many times over. She is also a great cook of small portions of gourmet food.
Both of my Grandmothers were good mothers. Both of them were faithful Latter Day Saints who served tirelessly in the church and were wonderful examples to their children and Grandchildren. Both of them were missionaries. Both of them shared their love, talents and testimonies with as many people as they could, but especially with their families.
I don’t think it matters what style of mother we are as long as we are the kind that has the company of the Holy Spirit.
I have learned as a parent that it is my great desire to be led by the Holy Spirit and to know when our child needs us, when she needs our special attention, our prayers on her behalf, our presence, our teaching.
It is my desire as a parent to feel that I have done what Heavenly Father has asked of me.
Several years ago, I attended the marriage of a cousin in the Salt Lake Temple. The temple sealer gave some advice when he said to the couple, "One of these days, you’ll have a teenage child leaving the home for the evening in a car. How much more peace you will feel on that occasion if from now until that time you have faithfully held family home evening, family prayer and scripture study in your home?"
A friend pointed out to me recently that her nine-year-old daughter is coming to her with a great many gospel questions. She said, I am trying to patiently answer all of them and find joy in the process as my child searches for the testimony she will most desperately need.
In our April General Conference, Elder Henry B. Eyring said, "the prophets of God have foreseen the times in which we live... Anyone with eyes to see the signs of the times and ears to hear the words of prophets know that the peril is great . The peril comes from the forces of wickedness. Those forces are increasing... For those of us who are concerned about such a future for ourselves and those we love... there is hope in the promise the Lord has given us of a place of safety in the storms ahead."
Then Elder Eyring quotes Helamen5:12
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation... whereon if men build they cannot fall."
The sculpture of the Pieta carries so much of the sorrow that we can sometimes feel as mothers, the concerns and the hurts that trouble. Would that Michelangelo had created another sculpture, one in which the Mother Mary would greet the risen Lord. For this is what we hope for as mothers, that our children will come and do what they were meant to do. That we will be able to teach them well and then that they will follow the example of their Savior rising above the filth and grief and trouble of this life to a glorious eternity.
I am so grateful and so awed by the blessing it is to be Charity’s mother. I love her so very much.
I am so grateful this day for my own dear mother whose gifts and talents are many. Who taught me to awe and reverence the creation that our Heavenly Father has made for our happiness. I love to go on drives with her so that she can point out and name every special tree and flower and bush and so she can remind me not to forget how beautiful our mountains are today with either green grass, autumn leaves or snow. She loves the beauty of every season and celebrates every holiday and occasion with exuberance and real joy. I am so grateful for her quiet faith and her extraordinary acts of service and for her great loyalty and love for her family.
I am grateful for a husband who doesn’t criticize and who encourages me and tries to give me confidence in all that I attempt to do. I love him so much.
I am grateful for this gospel, for the blessing it is in my life. For the blessing it is to have its rock not just to build faith, but also to build a family. I am grateful for my Savior and know that he is real and love him very much.