In the hymn “O My Father” Eliza R. Snow penned the words, “In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal Tells me I’ve a mother there.” Sister Snow clearly intimates that we all have a mother of our spirits. Both a divine Father and Mother nurtured us in a high and glorious habitation.
It is not surprising, therefore, that this same order of parenthood be followed during the creation of this earth. On the sixth day, the scriptures tell us, “…God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1: 27). Following the creation of Adam, “…the Lord God …made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman.…” (Genesis 2:22-23). We later learn that “…Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20).
Eve was God’s final creation. President Gordon B. Hinckley called her, “…the grand summation of all of the marvelous work that had gone before” (Ensign, November, 2004). Eve’s name signifies that she would become “…the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many” (Moses 4:26). Rather than only a childbearing event, motherhood is a defining characteristic of every woman. By divine pronouncement, it is who women are.
As Mother’s day approaches, it is a time of many tender thoughts and emotions. It is often bittersweet as we reflect on our personal stories and live with differing family circumstances. Our lives rarely follow an easy or trouble free path. In this framework, I would like to share part of my personal story, hoping it may provide some inspiration to others.
When I was young, at the age of nine, our family had a tragic experience that changed the future course of our family unit. On a road trip, our car was involved in a collision caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol. My mother, my younger sister, and my grandmother passed away—three generations of women taken suddenly from this mortal life. My father and surviving family members were left in a difficult period of mourning. We needed time to heal both physically and spiritually.
My memories of that time were filled with emotions of tremendous grief and loss. Those feelings, however, were not the most powerful or heartfelt. I also was gifted with the undeniable personal love and concern that Jesus had for me. Even at my tender age, I felt the enveloping presence of the Saviour comforting me when no one else was there. I did not feel alone. I felt that I was literally cradled in the hands of my Saviour and Redeemer. That pivotal experience taught me that I have a loving Elder Brother—Jesus Christ—who cared for me then, and cares for me still. This profoundly personal revelation has been an anchor to me throughout my life.
I see in hindsight how my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ watched over me, and my family, through those times of sorrow. During this time of recovery, my father was an example of faith and support to me. We shared a hospital room for about two months. He was able to continue serving as a bishop with the support of caring counselors who attended his hospital bed for meetings until he was well enough to be discharged. Many family members and ward members rallied around to minister to our family (Mosiah 2:17; Ministering.lds.org). My oldest brother, who had been serving a mission in Australia, stayed and finished his full mission there.
Later, a wonderful woman dedicated to the Gospel joined our family when my father remarried. I felt affection for her, but I also felt awkward. I did not know if I should call her Mom or by her name. She had been an elementary school teacher for many years and was very wise. She would tell stories or read to me nightly and bought a book of bedtime stories for me. Her inscription in the front of the book says, “Just in case I run out of stories to tell,” and she signed her name underneath. According to my memory it took a couple of weeks for me to feel comfortable to call her Mom. When I was able to call her by that title, what a relief for both of us! I noticed just recently that when I looked at her inscription again, I had written (in my own nine-year-old handwriting under her name) the word Mom.
I am doubly blessed to have two loving mothers to reunite with in the next life. They both ministered to me (and my family members) in their unique roles as earthly mothers. What a wonderful testimony to me that pure love can conquer many tribulations. I learned early that our lives are not meant to be without “…opposition in all things…” (2 Nephi 2:11). The love and sacrifice demonstrated by both of these women was freely given and eternally treasured. I can only hope to emulate some of their example by giving my love and service to my family and those within my circle of influence.
In these latter days of changing social norms and in the conflicting family values which surround us, my prayer is for us to remember that as mothers we have the mandate not only to help create life but also to teach our children the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our priesthood leaders are aware of these challenges as we heard from Elder Brian K Taylor of the Seventy: “To mothers, especially young mothers, who often feel overwhelmed and underwater while striving to raise a ‘sin-resistant generation,’ never underestimate your central role in God’s plan…. God sanctifies your most difficult days….” (General Conference, April, 2018).
My hope is that we may honour our mothers and the mother figures in our life. Motherhood is not an easy or prescribed role as it varies from woman to woman and from family to family. The eternal truth, however, is love (Love One Another). May we love each other with all the inspiration and power that was divinely bestowed upon Eve—the first mortal mother. With all her heart, she and her husband endeavored to teach their “…children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (D&C 68:28).