Mother’s Day was this past weekend. Ah, Mother’s Day. A day when we thank our mothers for bringing us into the world. A day when we express appreciation to them for sacrificing so much for us. A day when we remind them how much we love them.
And of course, it’s a day when many single LDS women feel more incredibly out of place than usual.
Over the years I’ve seen an increased awareness of single women within the larger LDS community. And I credit the leadership of the General Relief Society for that change as well as the example of upstanding, well-known LDS single sisters.
More married Latter-day Saints are displaying more sensitivity to women who don’t have the subcultural markers of belonging. Although those efforts aren’t always perfect or even close to it, the effort is still there. That wasn’t true 20-30 years ago.
I welcome the increased sensitivity. I also welcome what I see should be our next step in the evolution of the role of women within LDS subculture. We need to change how we think about motherhood. After all, it’s not what you may think it is.
True mothers in Zion
We commonly think about motherhood in relation to childbearing, and further restrict it to bearing one’s own children. What’s worse, we often confine our thinking to that narrow view. And that’s the whole problem.
Yes, motherhood does involve bearing children. But it also involves nurturing them, teaching them, sacrificing for them, and loving them. We don’t have to confine the expression of those qualities to our own biological children. In fact, we don’t have to confine that service to children at all.
From our heavenly parents, women have inherited an increased capacity for nurturing and compassion. Although children need nurturing and compassion, so do many adults. Anyone regardless of age or circumstance is blessed when women use those special spiritual endowments in their behalf.
It’s especially easy for us Latter-day Saints to view motherhood through the narrow lens of bearing and raising one’s own children. After all, the mark of belonging in LDS subculture is being married with kids. Yet those righteous women who mother others, whether they’re their children or complete strangers, provide valuable service. They are true mothers in Zion.
Mother is more verb than noun
I remember coming home for the holidays towards the end of my master’s degree program. My relationship with my major professor was strained, and my research wasn’t going well. I needed the break.
As the holiday break neared its end, I packed my car. But before I left, my mother wanted to pray. As I knelt with my mother and heard her pray for me and the successful completion of my graduate degree, I felt her great love for me.
I returned to campus safely but quickly found my research stymied and my relationship with my major professor more strained than ever. I was more than ready to quit. Then the memory of my mother’s prayer came to me, filling me with the strength to continue. Had that not come to me, I doubt I would’ve finished my program.
Of course, the righteous woman in this story who effected a needed, positive influence in my life is my own biological mother. But it didn’t have to be. The positive influence she exerted didn’t inspire me to soldier on because she bore my physical body into the world but because she loved me. And anyone can love. Her positive influence could have come from any righteous woman because mother is more verb than noun.
Christ is the center
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the sometimes narrow notions of our family-centered LDS subculture. Centering our culture on Christ helps us to see ourselves and one another more clearly. Christ accepts every child who strives to make and keep every sacred covenant possible. When we center our culture around Him, we see ourselves and others as He does.
We also see that perfection isn’t required, but willingness to follow Him is. Righteous covenant-keeping women exert a powerful influence regardless of marital status because their divine inheritance for nurturing and compassion combined with discipleship of the Master comprise an incredibly powerful combination promoting goodness in the lives of all within their circle of influence. You’ll never convince me that isn’t meaningful.
If you think motherhood is just about having and raising children, then it’s not what you think it is. Raise your vision to a higher standard. True mothers in Zion love and nurture those within their circle of influence, no matter who bore them and no matter their age. Righteous women who adopt that standard with their actions will always let their true beauty shine forth.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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