Mother’s Day is very much celebrated in the Mormon church and on those Sundays, a couple of people from the congregation are usually asked to speak on the subject of Motherhood.
A few weeks before this last Mother’s Day, I was asked to speak in church on that date. At the time, I don’t think the person asking me to do this realized that day was Mother’s Day and certainly didn’t realize I had been infertile for 7 years. (I am glad he didn’t know, as he may never have asked me otherwise.) My heart was just pounding out of my chest because I was so grateful I would have the privilege to speak on this subject….there is not a topic more near and dear to my heart. I accepted the assignment immediately.
After another failed IUI (infertility procedure), which I found out about the morning of Mother’s Day, here’s what I shared with the congregation in Brooklyn. I couldn’t hold back the tears on this one. They came before I even said the first word at the pulpit. I just felt so grateful that day to see how far I had come…
Mother’s DayMay 8, 2011
I am happy to be able to speak on Mother’s Day – one reason is I can stand and tell each one of you women how much I love you and admire you for all that you do. You really are women of God and I feel blessed that I get to associate with each of you and that we get to be sisters in this Gospel as we all try to be the best women we can be.
Also, I’m just personally happy that I could feel so at peace with speaking on Mother’s Day & celebrating this day. You should know that this is significant for me. There were years when I did not enjoy this day and didn’t even want to be near this building on Mother’s Day as it was too sad for me to be around so many mothers, when I couldn’t be one myself. But, because of this Gospel working so beautifully in my life, I am not the same woman that I was back then. And so, it is quite a miracle to me that I could speak to you today so willingly. I’m grateful that I can now celebrate this day, not because I am a mother, but because of what the desire for motherhood has done to my life.
Just like all of you moms who want to be the best you can be for your children, I do too. And I’ve had a long time to think about what it means to be a good mom and to be a good influence.I’ve come to the conclusion that being at one with our Heavenly Father (& all his goodness) is the way I can become the kind of mother I want to be – it is the way to have the healthiest heart and mind, which I consider the greatest offering of love I could ever offer a child. About four years ago, for the first time ever, I finally decided to really try to be a woman of God and to try to be the kind of woman that I would want to be as a mother. This decision has changed my life more than any other decision I’ve ever made. Being at one with our Heavenly Father includes so much – to have his heart and his mind means we must work to surrender our natural selves/ego. I didn’t always know how to do this. But I finally realized that it was more than just attending church, saying my prayers or reading ancient scripture, as they are simply tools to help us accomplish something greater. Being at one with our Heavenly Father means having our heart aligned with His. It even means giving up the tendency to be full of fear, frustration, anger, selfishness, doubt, or worry in our day to day experiences and instead – adopting His attributes of love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, hope & charity.
It is a huge sacrifice for most of us to give up our natural selves! We feel entitled to suffer and worry and blame. But many years ago, I realized that it was a choice I could make due to God’s gift to us of agency. If I wanted to, I could truly choose to align my ways with those of my Heavenly Father, and choose liberty and eternal life. Or, I could conduct my life in the way my natural self would and choose captivity and spiritual death by succumbing to the negativities, fears, and anxieties of the natural man (which I had previously been doing for years).
Prior to figuring this out, there were a few sources of great sadness in my life. I had already faced a couple of years of infertility, and my former husband began letting me know that he didn’t know if he wanted to be married any longer. At the time, I didn’t realize this, but because I was reacting to my circumstances with sadness, fear & loss of hope, it was preventing me from being at one with Heavenly Father. But I began to realize that I was choosing that – my distance from God wasn’t just a result of my unfortunate circumstances, it was a result of how I chose to react to my circumstances. In the face of criticism, I was letting harsh words ruin my soul & self-worth. In the face of an uncertain marriage, I was letting my fear of losing my husband & being alone destroy my peace. In the face of infertility, I was letting the fear of not being able to conceive bring me remorse & loss of purpose. In the face of a life that was not what I had envisioned for myself, I felt so much sadness. I looked at other mother’s lives with envy. And I wondered how I could ever have meaning or purpose in my life if I didn’t have a husband and a family. For years, these reactions compounded and affected me so greatly that I did not feel the influence of God in my life and I certainly did not have peace & happiness deep within my soul. I did not even have the strength nor the energy to serve another, because I thought my plate was already “so full” and I was already spread so thin because of my own unfortunate circumstances.
BUT, I was blessed to have a wake-up call. Someone pointed out to me that if this was the way I chose to live my life, I would be teaching my children to live this way as well. She also pointed out to me that being a mother itself would bring a lot of trials, and if I couldn’t handle my trials now, how on earth would I be able to be the mother that I wanted to be?!? Once my eyes became open to the fact that I had the power to choose a better way to live, my long-time desire to be a good mother kicked in full force and I deliberately began practicing living in a better way. And I mean it when I say I practiced! I would actually look for little opportunities in my life where I could try to have the heart and mind of God & put this to the test. (I even prayed to have some of those opportunities come my way so I could try it out.) It didn’t come as naturally in the beginning, but little by little, I began conquering all that I had before me. If there was a reason for me to be deeply offended & hurt, I remained still and took no offense. If there was a reason for me to be angry, I responded with a heart full of love and compassion. If there was a reason for me to be impatient, I remained hopeful and calm. If there was a reason for me to blame, I had compassion for another’s state of life and forgave with no conditions. If there was a reason to feel hopeless about my future & the loss of my marriage, I trusted that the Lord’s Plan of Salvation was for my greater good and that adversity was part of that beautiful plan. If there was a reason to feel insecure or humiliated by being rejected by my husband or being newly divorced, I believed that it was my divine right to be full of confidence and worth as a daughter of God. If there was a reason to judge, I prayed for another’s weaknesses. And if there was a reason to feel sorry for myself & my circumstances, instead I actually felt grateful for the privilege of learning from this mortal experience, no matter how grim my life seemed. This time of my life was amazing & sanctifying. My existence had changed. This was all made possible by the power of God, through the Atonement and example of Jesus Christ. And today I celebrate why this process began – it was because I wanted to be a good mother.I believe that Heavenly Father has chosen women to carry out a great work. It is so much more than making meal after meal, providing clean laundry, and trying to put your little ones to sleep. The work that mothers do is divine. It is about teaching your children how to live and teaching them how to turn their hearts to our Heavenly Father.
My dear husband, Danny, had some very profound thoughts come to him on his mission regarding the beauty of motherhood, and they so perfectly help to describe how I feel. He wrote these thoughts in the following letter, which he gave to his mother and two older sisters on Mother’s Day. He said:”My Bishop quoted about Mary, the mother of Christ. He said that Mary was ‘a precious and chosen vessel’ of the Lord, chosen to bring the Son of God into the world. After hearing that, the thought came to me – is not every mother a chosen vessel? Is not every child born destined to be heirs to God, and joint heirs with Christ? Are not all sons and daughters of God? Aren’t we all striving to reach the same status as Christ – certainly not as Savior, but as an heir to all the Father has? And if this capacity exists in every child born to this world, then aren’t ALL mothers chosen vessels? What greater calling than to raise the children of God and to help them to become like him? There is none. It is the most important!”I believe that if we have the desire and are patient with ourselves, and if we become willing to sacrifice our natural selves, we can become what He believes we can be.
Elder Jeffrey Holland said:
“Mothers, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. Yours is the work of salvation and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are, better than you are and better than you ever have been.”
We each have the divine right to this blessing – not only those who are mothers, but those who are preparing to become one. I have felt that blessing in my own life. And I believe that this blessing can be bestowed upon each and every one of us.
I am thankful for my own mother on this day, who in my darkest hour, was a woman of God. She was in tune to my needs before she even knew what they were. She instilled confidence in me that I could handle my trials with grace and strength. She was an example of love and forgiveness as the details of my divorce unfolded. She was an example of prayer, faith and fasting as she summoned the blessings of Heavenly Father on my behalf, that I would be able to start a new life with confidence and one day meet a wonderful man of God. I, too, am so grateful for Danny’s mother. She is a woman of God to her core and she exudes that with her every action. I am grateful that Danny could be raised by such an elite woman who is full of love, forgiveness, faith and strength. The blessings of our mothers did not end when we left home, the influence of their example has strengthened us greatly, even as adults.
In closing, Elder Jeffrey Holland said to Mothers:
“There is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and the glory of God. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust Heavenly Father has in you. He is blessing you and He will bless you – especially when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Rely on Him…… and press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.”
I have spoken to you every bit of truth I can muster from my heart! I believe these things to be true and I believe that if we turn to Him and become at one with Him, our lives can be transformed and we can raise our children to carry on His banner.
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Has anyone else found peace through infertility (or any other trial)? How did this happen for you or what inspired you to overcome it? I would love to hear.MK
(Photo above taken by Chris Lindsay in my home, 4 years ago. At the time this photo was taken, I had just barely figured out what life was all about and had completely come to peace with my infertility. I love having this photo as a reminder of that pivotal & beautiful time in my life. My first marriage ended unexpectedly maybe a month after this photo was taken. Wow.)