What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “the eternal perspective of motherhood?” Perhaps you think of your own mother, the service she has rendered you and the love that she gives. Maybe you think of your own role as a mother, or that heavenly night when you gave birth to your precious child.
If you have a tender heart because you have not yet had the privilege of bearing children on this earth, or maybe you feel that you were deprived of a mother-like role in your growing up years, know that God is mindful of you. A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church” by friends of other faiths) Elder Jeffrey R Holland has said:
To the women within the sound of my voice who dearly want to be mothers and are not, I say through your tears and ours on that subject, God will yet, in days that lie somewhere ahead, bring ‘hope to [the] desolate heart.’” Elder Holland promises “ultimately ‘no blessing shall be withheld’ from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately. In the meantime we rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood. (“Because She Is a Mother,” Ensign, May 1997)
So women, I ask, are we not all mothers?
I love this quote by Sister Sheri L. Dew who said:
While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living,” and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. (“Are We Not All Mothers?” Ensign, Nov. 2001)
And if you do have a tender heart right now, remember Elder Holland’s words, “ultimately ‘no blessing shall be withheld’ from the faithful.” And also enjoy these words shared by Reachel Bagley who has suffered from infertility:
There are hungry father-in-laws, and overwhelmed sisters; there are friends suffering from too little clean laundry, and husbands who need foot rubs. People need to be prayed for, listened to, and looked after. People are sometimes hurt, lonely, and exhausted, and regardless of whether they are minors, they need mothers. Even mothers need mothers. And for now, that’s what I look for: opportunities to mother. You don’t need to possess someone to love them. Loving is not synonymous with possessing; and possessing is not necessarily loving. But loving and nurturing is mothering. I believe that makes me a mother, regardless of whether I am capable of creating double lines on a pregnancy test. (“The Very Deserving Mother Heart,” Lyndsay and the Johnsons, Mar. 2009)
Now hearing these words may not take the hurt away, but I testify that the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ will—if you seek it.
Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6).
Now as Reachel shared, loving and nurturing is mothering. Some cynics may ask why is it necessary to love? Let me illustrate by sharing a psychology experiment done by Harry F. Harlow:
In Harlow’s initial experiments infant monkeys were separated from their mothers at six to twelve hours after birth and were raised instead with substitute or ‘surrogate’ mothers made either of heavy wire or of wood covered with soft terry cloth. In one experiment both types of surrogates were present in the cage, but only one was equipped with a nipple from which the infant could nurse. Some infants received nourishment from the wire mother, and others were fed from the cloth mother. Even when the wire mother was the source of nourishment, the infant monkey spent a greater amount of time clinging to the cloth surrogate.
It is also noted that when a frightening stimulus was brought into the room the monkeys would run to their terry cloth mother for protection. But was this cuddly cloth covered piece of wood enough for these monkeys—even though they got all the food and protection they needed? No.
…the actions of surrogate-raised monkeys became bizarre later in life. They engaged in stereotyped behavior patterns such as clutching themselves and rocking constantly back and forth; they exhibited excessive and misdirected aggression…
The behavior of these monkeys as mothers — the ‘motherless mothers’ as Harlow called them — proved to be very inadequate … These mothers tended to be either indifferent or abusive toward their babies. The indifferent mothers did not nurse, comfort, or protect their young, but they did not harm them. The abusive mothers violently bit or otherwise injured their infants, to the point that many of them died. (John Wiley and Sons, Principles of General Psychology, 1980)
Remembering God’s Love
So whether we have borne children or not, remember that as eternal mothers and fathers (for in the eternities motherhood is always accompanied by fatherhood) the task of giving love to our children is the most critical thing we can do when it comes to raising them. It is more important than having a fancy meal, a nice hair-do everyday, or a creatively (Pinterest worthy) decorated home. Love is everything. And when we let our children know that we love them, we are helping them remember that great love they felt from their Heavenly Parents, before they entered mortality.
As we—their parents—try to become like Jesus Christ, and ultimately like our Father, they will feel greater love. Why? Because our children can sense our devotion to God because as we are more devoted to Him and His cause, our capacity to love is increased. When our children feel, or remember, His love vicariously through us, their parents, the veil that hides heaven becomes thin and they remember and relive the feelings of inexpressible joy that they partook of before they entered mortality.
Tyler (my sweet husband) likes to tease me because I try not to let a day go by that I don’t talk with my own mother. I suppose I am drawn to her, and our conversations, because I myself remember God’s love when I do. I am grateful for my own parents who are devoted to God because they help me remember. And I am grateful that they created an atmosphere where I could go to them for anything—whether it was to ask them to come get me from a place that I realized was not appropriate for me, or letting me go and sleep on their floor at night when I got scared. I hope I can love my children as my parents did me.
Time to Act
What can you do to show greater appreciation for your own mom, wife, teacher or friend? Husbands, what can you do to show your gratitude for the role your wife has as an eternal mother? Children, what can you do to help your mom remember that she is doing something great, even though it may be exhausting?
I know that if we love our children now, it will bless them now, as teenagers, adults, and most importantly loving our children now will bless them to be the Mothers and Fathers of eternity. Just as our Father’s goal and mission is to have us become like Him, that should be our goal for our children as well.
Remember that no blessing is to be withheld from the faithful. The family unit is made fully complete through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful the Lord has entrusted Tyler and I to have such a precious and noble son. I can feel his power when I look at him. I love him. And I hope to be the mother that Heavenly Father wants me to be now and in the eternities.
This article was written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.