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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Virtuous Women and mothers

I was asked to give a talk on Mother's day. I feel impresssed to share what Heavenly Father prompted me to say:

It was 3:30am Wednesday morning after a child barged in to our room after having a bad dream. No one likes being startled to wake in the middle of the night and my first thoughts as said child kicked our door before walking in, was “Oh, come on!” After that I couldn’t fall back asleep as I pondered this job of motherhood and maybe what I could learn from this. Immediately I had thoughts enter my mind that I felt were important to share with you and I actually got up and wrote this at that hour. Here is what the Lord wants you to know:

My talk is on the blessings of Motherhood. At first I thought I would talk about the quirkiness of being mothers but the Lord worked on my mind and wanted me to focus on the Blessings part. So I had to think “what blessings are there from motherhood and womanhood?” Especially on nights when I have a child squished next to me causing me to lie in my own bed awake and uncomfortable.
A thought came in to my mind. 
“Christina, I am making you into a virtuous woman.”  
 "Right now?” I thought.   

What are some virtues? We hear often that patience is a virtue, I know that one of the young women values is virtue. D&C 4:6 says: Remember Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” I wonder how these can apply to motherhood…

Sister Bonnie D. Parkin was RS General President during 2006 and this talk was in the March 2006 Ensign called “Lessons from the Old Testament: Blessed in my affliction.” In this talk she discusses Joseph, who was sold as a slave by his brothers. If this happened to you, I imagine you might be upset. But Genesis 45:5 tells us what the Lord said to Joseph: “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life”. Joseph was being taught through affliction. She then related Joseph’s story to her own. She and her husband had been called to the England London South Mission. At their first conference in front of 75 missionaries, Sis. Parkin became very sick. Her husband noticed a strange jerking in her eyes and quickly had 2 missionaries take her out of the conference. Medical tests revealed an blood clot in her inner ear and she struggled with balance and couldn’t hear out of that ear anymore. She was pretty upset by this. She received treatment and gained her balance back but never her hearing. She said “Nine years later, with my own deeper perspective, I realize that countless blessings have come from those afflictions in England.” Brothers and Sisters, she was becoming a virtuous woman. These and other experiences helped her to become a great example to other women as she struggled to be Patient and humble, charitable and kind.

So now I want to talk about the intricacies of motherhood. It is not easy to be a mother, or a sister, or a wife, or a woman, really. And when you are in the thick of being a wife, mother, daughter, etc, it may be hard to feel grateful for the opportunities to learn more virtues, but I will tell you “Virtue is the chiefest beauty of the mind, the noblest ornament of humankind. Virtue is our safeguard and our guiding star that stirs up reason when our senses err.” That quote is found on an old sampler in a museum in Newfoundland. These are virtues and blessings that we need to learn as mothers and daughters:

1.     1.   Faith. It takes faith to be “cheerful and optimistic, charitable and courageous” as we clean up spills and messes each day, as we set rules for our family that no one wants to adhere to. It takes faith to sit through a family home evening and not question the importance of this program. It takes faith to get us through the loss of a child or loved one, through serious injury and scary situations. Faith is developed over time as we face obstacles and prove to ourselves that we can overcome them.

2.      2.   Honesty, another virtue, has taken practice for me. There was a time when we really needed financial help and we were trying to get a loan on a house. I knew what the loan officer, my friend Megan, needed to hear and there was no way to prove the lie I told, so I told her what she needed to hear in order to get the loan done. This ate at me. I knew that I had done wrong. I wanted to change and be forgiven but I also didn’t want to go back and tell her I lied. After letting it eat at me for weeks, I couldn’t take it anymore. I called her up and told her that I had lied to her. I was truly sorry for lying to her as a friend, but also lying to get a loan. I had to deal with the consequences. After that, I decided that telling the truth was actually easier than having to retrace actions of dishonesty. Honesty is a virtue that doesn’t come easily for everyone but it can free your mind from many burdens.

3.    3.    President James E. Faust said, “In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” we read, “The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” 4 Furthermore, the Lord says in the Book of Mormon, “I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” 5 Those who engage in physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage are likely to suffer feelings of guilt as well as deep emotional and physical hurt. Intimate relationships between men and women outside the bounds the Lord has set bring great misery, shame, degradation, and unhappiness to those involved. Chastity is  another virtue and blessing that come from  righteous living and in this day and age, is harder to find and desperately needed. What a blessing to women as we adhere to this virtue.

4.      4.   Humility – Boy, humility and I, like oil and water…Humility in mother/womanhood is when you know that you are right but you let your child/husband/brother find out on their own that they weren’t. Humility is a mother who gives up a career and accomplishments to stay at home and raise children who whine, cry, puke on you, and keep you up all night with only a faint reminder that this will pay off in the end.  Humility is what Christ exhibited as they placed a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him. He knew who He was, He knew that He could ask for justice to be done to those who caused him so much pain, but he was humble, and we should all try to remember humility a little more.

5.    5.    Charity and kindnessCharity in motherhood/womanhood is letting your kids eat the last piece of dessert. It is really listening when your child tries to tell you a lengthy story when you have 10 things you need to do. Charity is loving the child who just told you that “You are the worst mom in the whole town.” Charity is loving and helping a daughter, son, or friend who has made choices that aren’t right. Charity never faileth because it is the pure love of Christ. It takes a long time to achieve 100% charity and it won’t come through a couple acts here and there. Charity is a lifelong goal but the more you use Charity, the more blessings you will see in your life as this love fills your soul.

6.     6.   Patience and DiligencePatience is something that no one has enough of and that we all wish that others had more of. It takes patience to wait for righteous desires to be fulfilled, and that applies to almost all aspects of life. We develop patience as we deal with health struggles and things that are not in our control. It takes diligence to care for a teething baby at all hours of the night. It takes Diligence to help a child with homework and projects that they don’t want to do or are incapable of doing themselves. Patience and diligence are developed over time, just as all the other virtues are.

I want to end with a personal story, Jeremy and I got married really young – like, just barely legal to be married without parental consent. I had my life all planned out. I wanted 5 kids approx. 18 months to 2 years apart and I wanted them before I turned 30. Bam. You all know that I am a goal-oriented person so if there was a will there was a way…unless the Lord had other plans. We soon found that the Lord was not ready for us to have kids. Why? Why? I thought. We are good people. We are moderately attractive and have the gospel and I don’t understand why all my friends are having kids and I am not. This was really hard for me, and consequently for Jeremy because I was a little crazy. I honestly felt that I had failed as a woman because I couldn’t do my one job. 

Over time, however, I began to develop some perspective. I was learning patience. I couldn’t have what I wanted and I needed to learn that. I was learning humility as I dealt with helpful people asking unhelpful questions. I was learning love and charity as I held other babies and enjoyed kids more because I couldn’t have my own. Through much affliction I was learning virtues that I would not have learned at all. Most of you like the person I am today but if I had not had this trial I wouldn’t be that person…and I hated that time in my life! 

As I reflect back, though, I know the Lord has a plan and wants me to become a virtuous woman and  you and I have to go through our trials and learning experiences in order to become that.
Virtues are not things that you can purchase, they are achieved individually, one hardship at a time. Virtues are the blessings that come through motherhood and womanhood. Who doesn’t love a virtuous woman?

So for all the mothers out there who deal with crabby babies, cranky toddlers, disobedient youth, defiant teenagers, and immature adults, remember that the Lord has a great purpose for you and He will help lead His virtuous daughters into places where they can help others and be beacons to those who are need to build up their virtues. So what are these blessings of motherhood and womanhood? The Lord wants all of his daughters to become virtuous women. 
I have a testimony of these things. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.