Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day 2014: Never Count It Toil

Mother’s Day Talk 2014

Chris Todd Miller

Last Sunday I was asked to speak in church on Mother's day. I don't often wear my faith on my sleeve, but after a couple of days, I thought, why not share it on my blog--that's kind of what blogs are for. Here you go:

When Josh called to “ask” me to speak in church, I figured it was some sort of karma for missing the Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting. I was out of town at a conference. Then he said it was for Mother’s day and it got me thinking, last year we had the women speak, and that seems like the way to go to me. I don’t know what it feels like to be a mother, particularly an LDS mother.  I don’t know what it means to mothers to take on that role. I gave it a lot of thought and this is what I came up with. It’s not perfect, but maybe it’s in the ball park.

We don’t have mothers speak on Mother’s day, because too often I think you forget how the rest of us perceive you. And sometimes you might even begin to underestimate and question yourselves and you need to be reminded how we see you. How we cherish you.

The church group, Elevation Church, asked several moms to come in and do one thing: Describe yourself as a mother.

I'm a perfectionist and so that's hard with kids.
There's definitely days when I have my doubts about my abilities.
I struggle with my temper.
I wish I knew how to calm myself before speaking to them.
I wish I was better at just taking time to sit down and listen more to my child.
I wish I was more confident in being a mom.
Patience is far and away the biggest struggle.
I want them to know just how much I love them.

A couple of days later, the moms were asked to come back in, sit down and see what their kids had to say about them, as a mother. In between this time, they brought in the kids (2-6 grade) and asked them: What are your favorite things about your mom? Tell us about your mom.

My mom is totally awesome.
She's fun to snuggle with.
Pretty and funny.
She does cook a lot of food for me.
She's just unique. That's why I love her so much.
I have a lot of favorite things about my mom.
We like to watch movies together and color and stuff.
We go to church together and volunteer together.
My favorite thing is to jump on a trampoline with my mom.
She's like my heart, I guess you could say, because she's that close to me.
My mom is my hero.
She will care about me and always love me forever.

Take a moment to contrast those two lists.

Max Brooks is an author who wrote a book that was well received. It’s called World War Z. After the story ends, there’s one more page, the very last page of the book. It has one sentence on it, right in the middle of the page—I love you, mom. As kids grow up, our answers may get a little more articulate, but the gist is the same.

We love you for who you are. We love you for your sacrifices. We love you for mama bear protective streak. We love you for wisdom, for your caring, for your perspective.

David O McKay

“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.”
( Gospel Ideals, [1953], 452.) 

That was in in 1953. In 2004,

James E. Faust said: “There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation” (“Fathers, Mothers, Marriage,” Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2004, 3).

My children’s mother has given them a wonderful gift. As you know, we have two daughters and no matter how much I tell them and teach them, and guide them about making their way in the world, I don’t have the perspective that my wife has. Through her life, through her example, she is teaching them that anything is possible. That preconceived notions are just notions not absolutes. That their lives can be anything they want them to be. This is true for us all, but a word of warning, you’d better hurry, because we only get one life here on Earth and that’s not a lot of time. 

What if you have sons? What then? What better perspective on how boys should treat girls, men should treat women, than their own mothers.

Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The love of a true mother comes nearer [to] being like the love of God than any other kind of love” (“The Love of Mother,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1910, 278).

Kate and I both grew up in the South Davis area. Our parents still live in those homes. When we got married we both tried really hard not to live in South Davis. But after 10 years, we ended up buying the home we’re in now, two and a half blocks from my parents. And it’s been great. So many blessings have come from having grandparents so near. I’m not making any promises for the future, but for now it’s good.

Let me close with Joseph Smith. Joseph and Emma were married for 17 years. Joseph traveled extensively for the Church and was often obliged to find safety among friends to avoid angry mobs or numerous legal harassments. While he was away, Joseph and Emma wrote consistently to one another. We are fortunate to have some of those letters.

Joseph frequently wrote of his love and affection for Emma and his children.

He wrote to Emma: “If you want to know how much I want to see you, examine your feelings, how much you want to see me. … I would gladly walk from here to you barefoot and bareheaded … to see you and think it great pleasure, and never count it toil.” 

Sons, daughters, and husbands, let us all follow the prophet’s lead and never count it as toil. We are who we are because of our mothers.

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