Mother

A child holding a forget-me-not flower

Today in our Sacrament meeting, our Primary children sang “Mother I love you, mother I do.  Father in Heaven has sent me to you.  When I am near you, I love to hear you singing so softly that you love me too.  Mother I love you, I love you I do.”  Our bishop then stood up and told us how he was singing along with the children in his head, especially because his own mother is a member of our congregation.  If truth be told, I was also singing along!  I remember singing that song when I was in Primary and how happy it made me to be able to sing to my mother.

Another song that I had going through my head goes like this: “I often go walking in meadows of clover, and I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.  I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over; dear mother, all flower remind me of you.”  Isn’t it amazing how I can still remember these songs from when I was little?  In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to thank my mother (and now I have more than one thanks to marriage!) for teaching me the way to live and raising me the right way, for, as the proverb says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).

The scriptures have several examples of the effect a mother can have on her children–a work that is as close to God’s work (see Moses 1:39) as any on the earth–but I will mention only one (if you are interested in learning about some of the others, I invite you to spend some time studying the scriptures and pondering upon the effect that Mary had upon Jesus, that Sarah had upon Isaac, that Rebekah had upon Jacob, that Sariah had upon Nephi, and that Lucy had upon Joseph and Hyrum).  The story that comes to mind is the story of the Stripling Warriors, who were able to face the challenges of war while still remaining faithful to our Heavenly Father, even as young as they were.  They faced a terrible foe who desired only to conquer and to spill blood–and miraculously their whole group of about 2,000 soldiers was able to enter battle and help assure victory without losing a single young man.  The scripture reads,

And now, their preservation 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 power of God, because of their exceeding faith 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. (Alma 57:26).

Their faith had spared them, and where did they learn such incredible faith?  Before they entered the battle, this is what we read of them:

Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (Alma 56:47-48)

The faith taught these young men from their infancy–that very faith of their mothers–saved their lives and enabled them to be a great asset in defending the liberty of their homeland.  This scriptural account is especially poignant to me because I have the opportunity to serve our country in the Navy Reserves.  I have seen a lot of good people in the military whose faith has been strengthened by the trials they have faced (I have also seen many good people fall away from their faith because of these same trials)–and I feel especially blessed that I was raised by a good mother who taught me to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and who gave me the tools, early on in my life, to find success and faith in the military.

Now I want to share some words from an apostle of the Lord with those of you who are reading this post, lest you read this example of the mothers of the Stripling Warriors and feel vastly inferior.

…you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you…If you and your husband will strive to love God and live the gospel yourselves; if you will plead for that guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful; if you will go to the temple to both make and claim the promises of the most sacred covenants a woman or man can make in this world; if you will show others, including your children, the same caring, compassionate, forgiving heart you want heaven to show you; if you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do. (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Because She Is a Mother“, April 1997 General Conference)

(actually this a really good talk for any mother who may be feeling a little overwhelmed, and if you like that one, you’ll probably also like this one)

Now that may seem like a lot, and indeed it is, but at least it makes the whole challenge of mothering (and fathering for that matter) a whole lot more manageable–because the things that Elder Holland recommends that we do are at least doable and only require our effort.  In fact, the things that he recommends don’t even have a specific measure attached to them–because Elder Holland realizes that we each have a different capacity to do these things.  For some a monthly visit to the temple takes a heroic effort and is all they can do, for others a monthly visit to the temple is laziness.

In any case, I feel grateful for all mother’s out there who sacrifice for their children.  I believe that there is no greater work than in the home and that mothers are the primary laborers.  Thank you for your diligence and testimony, it is that faith that creates future generations of believers and helps all to come unto Christ!

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