You know how Eve got those commandments in the Garden of Eden that contradicted each other?: Don’t eat the fruit, and oh, be sure to multiply and replenish the earth. I’m sure there was some genuine and well-deserved stupor on Eve’s part. Luckily, she’s smart and she got it right in the end.
Nowadays, things are only slightly less complicated. The proclamation on the family teaches us that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force. In other words, have children. And then there’s that little scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that tells us to “Be not weary in well-doing.” Is it really possible to have children and not be weary? In fact, if I died right now, my tombstone might accurately say, “Weary do-gooder.”
I chuckled a little inside when I heard that scripture read in church a few weeks ago (and probably made some witty comment under my breath about the impossibility of compliance when, for example, you have a newborn and a potty trainer at the same time– which I don’t at the moment, but I remember.). I mean, telling a mom to not be weary is like telling Mike Rowe to not get dirty. So, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks, because, let’s face it, if I ever have a snarky reaction to a scripture, I’m probably dead wrong.
Here’s what the scripture says:
D&C 64: 33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
Do you think weary is supposed to mean tired and exhausted? If so, this commandment escapes the realm of possibility because I don’t care how much faith a mother has, she’s still not going to get enough sleep. Perhaps there’s more to it than that.
Dictionary.com defines “weary” like this:
/ˈwɪəri/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [weer-ee]
1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.
2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.
3. impatient or dissatisfied with something (often fol. by of): weary of excuses.
4. characterized by or causing impatience or dissatisfaction; tedious; irksome: a weary wait.
Perhaps the Lord is asking us to adjust our attitude more than our physical or mental state. He’s asking us to not get dissatisfied with our work, to not become discouraged. We may give up sleep, but we should not give up hope in what we’re doing. This is what I’ve decided. With absolutely no authority whatsoever, I’ve rewritten the scripture to read what I believe it actually means:
“Don’t get discouraged in your very important responsibilities. They are tedious, but they are an important part in my eternal plan. What seems ordinary and insignificant to you actually has infinite and eternal influence. Believe in it, and keep going.”
Looking at “weariness” in a new light, and with a specific twist toward my job as a mother, I loved reading these scriptures (my thoughts are in red):
Gal. 6: 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Key word: in due season. The fruits of motherhood are slow growing, but fainting is not an option if we hope to ever harvest.
(The footnote next to the word weary leads to this scripture:) Luke 8: 14 (14-15) And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. So interesting that it cross-references a scripture about distraction. It’s easy to feel discouraged in the labors of motherhood if we give too much importance to the cares of the world. And yet, if we choose thorny paths, we are kept from the development of perfection– both our own and that of our children.
Isa. 40: 28, 30-31 ¶ Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. . . . But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Did that say there is a cure for weariness? Yes. And it’s in the Lord– waiting on Him. Consistency and patience.
Jer. 31: 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. The Lord heals, invigorates, and blesses those who come to Him.
And, of course, Elder Maxwell says it best in an awesome talk called “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds” :
The urgings for us not to weary in well-doing contain prescriptions to avoid such weariness. (See Gal. 6:9; 2 Thes. 3:13; Alma 37:34.) We are to work steadily, but realistically, and only expect to reap “in due season.” (Gal. 6:9.) We are to serve while being “meek and lowly” (Alma 37:34), avoiding thereby the wearying burdens of self-pity and hypocrisy. We are to pray always so that we will not faint, so that our performance will actually be for the welfare of our souls, which is so much more than just going through the motions. (See 2 Ne. 32:5, 9; D&C 75:11; D&C 88:126.)
And that my friends, is how I was wrong. Because with faith in and help from our Savior, even us mothers can move past weary and keep doing the work we were called to do, just like Eve did, invigorated by the knowledge that we’re truly doing “that which is great.”