While walking the treadmill at the gym with my good friend Shantel the other day, we had a conversation about two things that are frequent themes on my blog: the often misunderstood, nevertheless eternal importance of motherhood and the sometimes crushing sense of underachievement we women tend to drag around with us. Amidst the pathetic huffing and puffing, our conversation turned to the scriptures. I can’t speak for Shantel (who usually knows everything already), but I had a major lightbulb moment.
I’m hoping I can share it well because the principles are awesome. (Hence, the incredibly demure title of this post.)
Women are pulled in so many directions, our expectations dictated by an ever-demanding society and our own overactive sense of self-judgment. We are bombarded with thousands of skills, ideas, practices, habits, philosophies, and even possessions that are somehow advertised as necessary pieces of the puzzle that is the “fulfilled modern woman.” Give me a break. Even when we can see through all the smoke and mirrors and try hard to focus our priorities on what we know
really matters, we hear spoken and unspoken messages suggesting we should really be doing more with our lives. Making a difference. Making a name for ourselves. We’re told we can be better
mothers if we fulfill ourselves in myriad areas of our lives (like a career, for example) and focus on our own needs (“Spoil yourself. You deserve it.”). Elder Ballard taught recently
“Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.”
His message refers, I think, mostly to our spiritual reservoirs and certainly also to allowing ourselves opportunity to develop talents and interests. However, society has twisted and abused this point to mean that women should do everything and anything we want to do or are capable of doing, or we’ll have nothing valuable to offer. Anyway, all of that was more of a rant than the actual lesson I learned. Here is what a couple Bible stories taught me about the simple glory of being a stay-at-home mom, or at least the best kind of mom and woman I can be.
From Matthew 26:
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Now, this woman brought the finest she had and shared it with the Savior. The disciples called it a “waste,” suggesting she should give it to the poor or use it in a way to do so much more good in the world. The Savior rebukes them and reminds them that He is a worthy recipient of her good works. Think of this in terms of taking all our education, our precious time, our talents and resources that could maybe make us powerful or famous or of great influence elsewhere in the world, and yet, we wipe noses and wash feet. Like the disciples, others may say or we may ask ourselves, “Don’t you wish you could do more with your life?” Think of the Savior’s assertion just one chapter earlier that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” The same account in Luke tells us that she was also a sinner. She was not perfect by any means, but the Savior accepted and honored her offering, deemed it better than any other way she could have spent herself, and he accepted her.
From Luke 10:
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Martha was trying hard to do what was right, but she also tried to impose her version of what-should-be-done onto Mary. She even complained to the Savior that Mary should be doing more. He gently pointed out that by simply focusing on Him, Mary’s “doing less” was actually doing more; a personal relationship with Him was– and still is– the good part. Society and even well-meaning friends, family and peers may try to impose upon us their standards for our success, but what the Savior measures us by is solely our attention and response to personal revelation from Him as we act out our part in life. He, and He alone, sets the only “rules” that matter. We can try to meet everyone else’s expectations, and even our exaggerated own, until we are blue in the face, but it’s not supposed to be that hard, and we might just end up missing out on the needful good part.
So in a world of mixed messages and voices that tell us we are never enough, I’m thankful for Jesus Christ, who asks so little of me by comparison. I feel bold enough to say that what I often see as mundane He will (and does) crown with glory. He loves my children even more than I do, and my heart is enough for Him. And really, that’s all that matters.