The Greatest Work We Can Do

DSC_8294You know, I am awfully tired of dwelling in self pity. Borlänge continues to be the refiners fire, but this week, that is absolutely okay, if not perfectly and precisely what I need. It takes a great deal of humbling to sculpt me…..but I am getting there! I love this clear view I’ve been given under this beautifully big Dalarna sky.

Mothers’ day is this upcoming week and nowhere is quite like the mission field to bring the full weight of this day upon me. It is in the physical absence that I have come to comprehend but a sliver of the worth of my wonderful mum. There is no being in this universe after my Heavenly parents and Saviour Jesus Christ who is greater to me than my mother (matched only with my equally wonderful father.)  Truly, not until I find my own spouse and become a father will I ever find anyone who means as much to me as my parents…. And not until I create a family for myself will I properly understand the level of love they possess. The love held by parents and within a family is of Heaven. It is not a thing of this earth. As the lovely Avett Brothers sing “always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.”…. The love a husband has for his wife, a brother has for his sibling, and above all, a mother has for her child, is the closest form of God’s love for us to witness on the earth. Jeffrey R. Holland put it beautifully when he said “no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.”

DSC_8336Of course, yes, sadly I cannot pretend that every family shares equal bonds of love. There are increasingly more and more broken homes and severed relationships between spouses, siblings and children with there parents as this world hurtles into the last days. Fatherlessness and motherlessness and fractured family units are growing at such a harrowing rate that it steadily is becoming less of an unfortunate exception and more of a social expectation. The gospel may be practiced in the chapels and temples, but it is in the home that it should be learned. Principles can be taught and applied outside of the family unit most certainly (why else do we have missionaries?) and the sincere service of a single mother or a single father can certainly build children into kind and charitable people.

IMG_1575[1]So, as I continue on talking about my mother, I do not mean to make anyone feel less for any case of parent-child connection cut due to forces beyond their control…. God does not ask us to have perfect families. He simply asks us to love the ones we are given. Maybe you cannot mend your relationship, and would give everything in the world to do so, and you are just like those King Benjamin spoke of who “say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.” And to such I promise that God listens to your prayers and weeps with you, and as surely as you will follow Him, He will provide peace to your soul and you can, somewhere, someday, build the strong loving home you’ve always dreamed of….

But back to my dear mum.  Jesus Christ taught “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I would like to alter the text ever so slightly to “Greater love hath no woman than this, that a mother lay down her life for her children.” Now, I do not mean that my mother should die for me and my siblings, though she probably willingly would, but she does truly lay down her life for us. She has laid down her life for me for the last 20 years.  She has given her life for me….Set aside her wants for my needs. Sacrificed years of physical, emotional, and spiritual effort, whole heartedly for her children. You see, my mother is brilliant. She could’ve been a successful journalist or any slew of other wonderful things in her life, but selflessly she gave her life to us.

Anyone who degrades a woman for having children and putting them first in her life misunderstands what motherhood is. It isn’t an escape from the world. It isn’t a lifelong vacation for lazy women. It is the highest, noblest, and equally most soul demanding calling upon the face of the earth. It is second only to Godliness. Perhaps there are women out there who ware away their mortal existence on frivolous idleness, while their children are at school, but this minority should not become society’s vision of motherhood and therefore prove to cast a false image on the mothers who far too often are far too unappreciated for the selfless, ceaseless service they render.  It is profane to look at the countless wonderful mothers I know, including my very own mother, and possibly even suggest that being a mother is an easy exit from life’s responsibilities. Such a notion is rejecting the entire plan of salvation. Motherhood is life’s highest responsibility. It is an honour requiring greater character and love than any other occupation conceivable. I cannot ever begin to comprehend the time, energy, patience, passion, and ever flowing love my mother poured  into me, without a care for herself. I repeat myself.  My mum has poured her soul, and certainly has wept, for my welfare. Her life is for me and my siblings.IMG_2414

Of course my appraisal of mothers  does not mean I for once look down upon mothers who work, whether out of necessity or talents that just can’t be left to waste away. The world needs you. Do not step away. We need more woman in all our faculties of society. Just as I ask for no one to look down upon any woman who chooses to sacrifice her selfish desires to be a mother, I ask that no one look down on a mother, dedicated to her family, who works. Just as girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams, as young Peter Pan acknowledged, they are far too clever to be kept in the kitchen. It is, in part, on account of their cleverness that they are intended to be the chief nurturing source for children.  For a woman’s brain has the intellect to the complexity of raising a child properly that I can never have, even with the most full hearted dedication. We need that same intellect in our political, literary, civil, educational and scientific worlds. Leave the world to be run by men and you’ll have the terrible dark ages all over again. We are given talents. We are expected to share them. We need to do all, in order with God, and of course with constant consideration of family first are foremost, to share them.

My mother represents the perfect balance of family and sharing her talents, to me.  She was given the talent of directing theatre and inspiring greatness out of teenagers and used this talent, working long tiresome nights my entire childhood to create the most beautifully directed play productions. In doing so, she changed and blessed hundreds of lives. How did she balance this and raising four children? The key- just as she did not let children be a reason to not add her talents to the world, she did not let her talents be an excuse to neglect her children. We were always the top priority to her. This means the universe to me looking in hindsight. This principle was not only lived by my mother, but by my father. He too always held family before all else. All of us, father or mother, must hold family first.

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With my Mom in Scotland in 2014.

As missions probably often do to missionaries, my mission has given me a greater appreciation for my mother. I cannot understand how she directed multiple plays every year, managed a theatre company, served in her numerous church callings from in young womens to organising yearly girls camp with all it’s complexities, while having four children in ballet, soccer, both Autumn and Spring, cross country, track, trumpet lessons, art lessons, guitar lessons. She taught us  to read, write, cook, ski, think for ourselves, and a whole host of other things, while maintaining a large garden on a large plot of land while raising sheep, goats, chickens, border collies. She turned a 100 year old drafty house in disrepair into a warm, beautiful home, always clean, with the wildest of wind storms and raging tempests trying to beat it down year after year, while battling all degrees of adversity from religious persecution to recently Parkinson’s disease.

She fed us (the best food ever cooked) clothed, cleaned, raised, and taught us, at times being our teacher for all subjects, (except math was left to dad to teach) giving solid time to talk with us, counsel with us, really know us, be our trustworthy friend, inspire us, sacrificing to have us see the world, go to acting seminars, soccer camps, ballet camps, a dozen other expenses, multiple universities and two missions.

Above all and atop everything else, teaching us the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way, through her sincere living of it and selfless Christlike service, that she honestly inspired us to follow Christ, not by force or guile or manipulation but by giving us true desire. She stressed how to be civil, humble, virtuous, selfless, polite, brave, charitable, modest, adventurous, knowledgeable, peaceful, avoiding all violence, being spiritually sensitive, holding to faith, serving others, being creative, well read and far from ordinary and loving God with all our heart and equally loving our neighbour as ourself.

How did she do it and is still doing it? She is, alongside my dad, my greatest hero and I cannot fully express my love for her and her infinite love for us. Who I am today is thanks to many people including church leaders, school teachers, siblings and other family members, my dear father and most of all, my mother. From the temporal things such as a love for the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Shakespeare, Scotland and quality classical literature, to the eternal things such as faith, hope, charity, and goodness. The two people I must thank are my parents and on this week most especially my mother.

DSC_8367To all mothers everywhere, both grandmothers, young mothers and future mothers, and above all, my own beloved mother, I hold you with the highest of respect. Each and every mother who earnestly is doing her best to love her family and help her children is beyond the mere comparison of angelic. I miss my mom.  I love her infinitely, and I am so very excited to skype her next Sunday.

In the words of one of my favourite human beings, who wisely understood who are the most important of human beings: ” Homemaker is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only — to support the ultimate career!”  -C.S. Lewis

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