Deep theological thoughts on motherhood

superstock_1538r-4019I had a light-bulb moment the other day. You know how in the talk we’re studying this week for General Conference Book Club, there’s a quote from Joseph Smith about how revelation can come into our minds as “pure intelligence flowing into you”? It was one of those kind of moments. Pretend you’re interested.

I had recently finished writing a guest post for Mormon Mommy Blogs. (I believe it’s posting on the 30th– that’s this Thursday, but I’ll be out of town and won’t have internet access to point you all that direction, so GO there and make a comment so I don’t look like the guest blogger who shouldn’t have been.)

Anyway, I wrote a post about “Diapers and Divinity,” which obviously is the title of my blog, but it was mainly an attempt to explain my philosophy on motherhood in general, and the motivating principles for which I try to use this blog as a medium. So the thoughts were still fresh in my mind and I kept thinking and kept thinking about how majestic motherhood really is. I felt convinced that the simple things we do as mothers are really, really important, but I still felt like I was unable to articulate why. Moms are often caught up in (and discouraged by) the dreary details of motherhood, but surely there must be a deeper purpose in it than we see . . . or don’t see. And then the thoughts came.

Everything we do is meant to point us to Christ. All of those mundane things we do— the dishes, the diaper changing, the laundry, the booger-removal from walls and bedding, šŸ™‚ all of it— are symbols of some part of the Savior’s atoning mission. Stick with me here, I’m trying to make sense. I’ve always liked this scripture in Moses 6:62-63:

62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.
Everything. That thought took me a little deeper and I began to recognize that all those ordinary tasks fall into categories of what Jesus Christ did/does for us:
  1. He takes dirty things and makes them clean. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Think about it: laundry, dishes, bathing, cleaning toilets, all fall into this category. Even changing a diaper becomes a poignant symbol when you think of it as taking a soiled child and making him clean, something the Savior does for us.
  2. He turns contention, pain, sorrow, and hunger into peace, healing, comfort and nourishment. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh” (Luke 6:21). This could be a job description for mothers. We nurse wounds. We wipe away tears. We restore peace. We feed people.
  3. He turns chaos into order. “I created these things; yea, in the beginning . . . And the earth was without form, and void; . . . And I, God, saw everything that I had made, and, behold, all things which I had made were very good” (Moses 2: 1-2, 31). As mothers, we create the world of our home. Our homemaking and housekeeping efforts take matter unorganized and turn it into home: a place of learning and existing as a family. We are creators.

l30Isn’t that amazing? Maybe some of you are thinking “Duh, I knew that,” but to me it was an entirely new and enlightening concept– a revelation that I participate in the Savior’s work when I do my simple mom stuff. It’s a struggle, but it’s supposed to be hard; the Atonement was not easy for Him either. But seeing those symbols for what they are and what they can point me to has made a big difference for me. So, like my little sidebar introduction says, join me in getting back to mothering with a renewed sense of purpose. That purpose— divine motherhood— is very, very cool.

I’m headed to Women’s Conference at BYU for the rest of the week, so I’ll be pretty quiet on the Internet front. I’m going to post my GCBC comments tonight, so please keep that conversation going all week. The new talk will still go up on Sunday. I’m hoping to learn lots of cool stuff and come back and share it with you. Say a prayer for Matt’s four days as a single parent. (But don’t pray too much– I want it to be hard enough that my shoes seem unfillable. :))
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18 thoughts on “Deep theological thoughts on motherhood

  1. Oh how I need to understand this concept. I need to get it through my thick skull that what I am doing is important. Because so often it seems like what I am doing isn’t. I struggle and struggle and struggle with this. Thank you for this new insight. Hopefully it will give me more to hang on to.

    • Well, I’m probably at least 5 years older than you, so let’s assume that you would have figured it out in 2 years, which makes you SMARTER than me. And I’m convinced that many moms are fueled by ah-hah moments that I haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s all good; we’ll “get it” when the time is right for us to understand.

  2. I gave a talk at girls’ camp one year that was kind of this same idea. Everything, even having to clean the latrines, could teach some eternal principle and show us something about the Savior. You’re awesome! Looking forward to your GP on MMB.

    Have a wonderful time at women’s conference, Svetlana!

  3. I second Shanna’s comment. He also did not get grumpy and pouty and irritated by the bumps along the way. I tend to get that way when things don’t just go as i want them to. Maybe this perspective will help.

  4. Wow–what a great post, Steph. It reminded me of something that a wise sister-in-law of mine taught me a couple years ago. She was having QUITE a day, and settled in to read her scriptures at the end of her day. She read the verse about “I was naked and ye clothed me, I was sick and ye visited me, I was an hungered and ye fed me…” and she felt SO overwhelmed. She thought “When am I supposed to have time to do all that?! When am I ever going to have time to serve others?!”

    Then, clearly, she saw her day again in her mind: her son had been sick, so she had carefully bathed him, gave him medicine, and gotten him snug in his pajamas. She had prepared three meals for her family. She had cleaned their home.
    “I was naked and ye clothed me.”
    “I was sick and ye visited me.”
    “I was an hungered and ye fed me.”

    She realized, with surprising clarity and force, that she had done ALL those things, that day, in her own home. Just as if she had done them for the Savior.

    She said she’s never looked at mothering the same, and–since she told me–neither have I.

  5. On the one hand, I’m a little jealous you’re going to Women’s Conference; on the other hand, I’m so happy I’ve discovered blogs like yours that nourish me in a Women’s-Conferencey sort of way from the comfort of my computer chair, when I have a newborn to care for AND a bad cold. Thanks for this post. And thanks, Becca, for your comment, too — I’d heard something similar once, but it’s a great comfort to be reminded that the quote about doing our most important work “within the walls of our own homes” isn’t just a rebuke to stay home more, but a validation of the value of what we’re doing, day after day after day-after-day.

  6. Steph, this post was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And SO what I needed to read this morning–this has given me a different perspective that I really needed today. Thank you!!

  7. Steph these are great thoughts! I had a teacher at Education Week once tell our class that as a mother we take on so much for our kids. From scraped knees to broken hearts and bad grades….we literally try to lighten the load and help them with their pains-just like the Savior did with the atonement. It has helped my perspective so much when there is yet another crisis my kids want me to manage. There is no other work so Christlike that is so daily – than motherhood.

  8. This was a great insight for me, one I’d never thought of in quite this way. It does make me feel a little ‘spiritually slow’ compared to you–and I KNOW we’re the same age! šŸ™‚ It’s good to be able to recognize the significance that can be found in what seems to only be mundane.

    Enjoy your trip to UT!

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been struggling so much lately; feeling less than divine, and like an utter failure. Our duties as mothers truly do emulate our Savior’s ministry. Wow. While reading this I thought of how much I love my two year old even though he’s constantly getting into mischief, and felt the truth of my Father’s unconditional love for my often-mischievous self.

  10. Thank you for what you are doing with this blog! I am amazed at how our reservoirs can be filled so easily and so fully with the simplicity of the gospel. There is a reason God’s words should be part of our daily routine- we need these things daily, in small doses to remind us, as you have done with this inspired insight. As women, wives, mothers, aunts and sisters, we are instruments in God’s hands in the lives of those we love- especially the wee ones who depend on us. Very wise and astute comparison. And now I am off to wipe another beautiful icky nose……..Thank you!

  11. Thank you for sharing those very real comparisons with the work of mothers to the work of the Savior. I hadn’t ever really thought of it like that before. Thank you for reminding me that motherhood really can be a sacred thing even in the midst of the day to day challenges. šŸ™‚

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