The Only Job

Why does being a mother have to be SO HARD?! Every day brings a new challenge to navigate, a new conflict to smooth, a new problem to solve, or a new worry to bear. And sometimes, being a mother is more than just hard –  it can bring unrelenting agony.

A dear friend emailed me sharing her heartbreak over one of her children. My heart aches with her, and for her child. Although my life experiences have been different, there are very familiar echoes in her experience, feelings and emotions to mine. As I processed her letter and my response, it inspired today’s post.

First, I must make a confession.

There have been many moments in the past 26 years of my mothering journey when I’ve found myself musing on how peaceful and carefree my life could have been without children!

All those baby hungry years? Those child-rearing fantasies? … “What was I thinking?!”…

…of course, eventually I shake myself back to reality, and ‘repent’. Because (despite it all) I dearly love my children – and (despite it all) I dearly love the privilege of being their “Mom”.

And, as my friend reminded:

“Sometimes I think how different my life would be if I hadn’t had children, but then I reconsider and think how boring it would have been!”

mother-daughter-sunset

Life teaches us that the very things which bring us the deepest sorrow, can also be the very things that bring us the greatest joy (and vise versa).

Nothing defines this truth more than being a parent.

“Through all mortal opposition, we have God’s assurance that He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain. (see 2 Nephi 2:2)”

– Dallin H. Oaks

I believe that being a mother is a divine calling from God. He entrusts us with some of His sweetest spirits to raise, care for, love, teach and guide on this earth.

When you ponder the depth of this calling, it reveals a startling and amazing Act of Faith and Trust on God’s part – in us! 

mother-newborn

“Parents, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid” (Joshua 1:9). I know that God hears and will answer your prayers.”  – Larry R. Lawrence

As the Parent of us all, He wants to give us every opportunity and experience possible to know and become like Him. He knows the inherent dangers, toils and snares of being “Mom” and “Dad”. But, He also knows there are important lessons we cannot learn, and growth we cannot gain, any other way except through the calling of parenting.

dad-and-child

Let parents who have been conscientious, loving, and concerned and who have lived the principles of righteousness as best they could be comforted in knowing that they are good parents despite the actions of some of their children.

– James E. Faust, The Greatest Challenge in the World: Good Parenting

How better can we learn of Him and become like Him, than by the daily acts of selfless service and sacrifice required of mothering and fathering?

These parental teaching moments, service, and sacrifice don’t need to be something big, dramatic or powerful .

We learn from the Master Teacher himself.

The completed beauty of Christ’s life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous acts of beauty—talking with the woman at the well; showing the young ruler the stealthy ambition laid away in his heart that kept him out of the Kingdom of Heaven; … teaching a little knot of followers how to pray; kindling a fire and broiling fish that his disciples might have a breakfast waiting for them when they came ashore from a night of fishing, cold, tired, and discouraged. All of these things, you see, let us in so easily into the real quality and tone of [Christ’s] interests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in what is small, so engrossed with what is minute.

(Charles Henry Parkhurst – “Kindness and Love,” in Leaves of Gold, Honesdale, Pa.: Coslet Publishing Co., 1938, p. 177.)

jesus-cooking-fish
Christ On The Shore of Galilee – painting by C. Michael Dudash

This is true with being a parent. The little things become the big things sewn into the family tapestry by a thousand threads of love, faith, discipline, sacrifice, patience, and work.

Our family tapestry is not a masterpiece! But, I take comfort in the truth that “If God brings you to it, He will lead you through it.” If mothering (and fathering) is a divine calling from God, and He has brought us “to it,” then we can rely on Him to help us “through it”.

A loving parent never expects their child to execute a new skill perfectly that they are learning.

teaching bike

Why would the expectation be any different from the most loving Parent of all, as we wobble and toddle along with our child?

Our babies don’t come with personalized handbooks. We don’t get an emergency alert when a major threat is about to strike, or flashing warning lights when a challenge is up ahead, nor do we even get a shortlist of the special nurturing and unique handling each child requires.

We are simply given this child. And then we start moving forward.

We listen to advice from more experienced parents. We try. We pray. We act on promptings and intuition as best we can. We acknowledge our shortcomings. We learn from our mistakes. And then, we try again – perhaps with a new approach, or a change of heart.

Most of all, we love.

As I prayed and sought guidance from our Heavenly Father with a parenting challenge recently, I had an “epiphany”. The spirit whispered to my soul that being a Mom means I really only have one job. All other tasks and details dwell in various categories in its umbrella – but they are not the most critical.

Ultimately, there is only ONE job that God asks of me – and each of us.

To love.

Unconditionally. Without reservation. Without judgement. Without exceptions or expectations.

To love.

No matter what happens. Regardless of the circumstances, the trials, the challenges, the struggles, the disappointments, the broken hearts or broken dreams.

As much as our mother-heart and soul yearns to do “more”, it is not our job to solve, or fix, or change, or heal all the broken things.

That was – and is – the Savior’s job.

It is his divine calling to solve, fix, change and heal all the broken things.

This is what he came to our earth to accomplish. This is how BIG, wide and deep the atonement really is. This is what the atonement means for each of us, and for each of our children!

Thanks to Jesus Christ, we only have one job to learn, embrace and work on perfecting.

family hug

To Love.

Simply, profoundly, gloriously, beautifully to love. With all of our heart, might, mind and soul.

And, to love also means to trust in Christ’s glorious, beautiful promise;

that he will take care of everything else.

“And even to your old age I am he; and even to gray hair will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” – Isaiah 46:4

Lars-Justinen-TheParable
The Parable – by Lars Justinen

Consider the lilies of the field, How they grow.
Consider the birds in the sky, How they fly.

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky.
And He will feed those who trust Him, And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sheep of His fold, How they follow where He leads.
Though the path may wind across the mountains,
He knows the meadows where they feed.

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky,
And He will feed those who trust Him, And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sweet, tender children Who must suffer on this earth.
The pains of all of them He carried From the day of His birth.
He clothes the lilies of the field,
He feeds the lambs in His fold,
And He will heal those who trust Him, And make their hearts as gold.

Be at peace, dear mothers, and fathers.

He carries you and your little lambs in his mighty hands.

Love, MoSop

P.S. Want more inspiration about Parenting, Love and Life?

Watch General Conference this weekend!

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