Being a woman, of course I enjoyed this talk by Elder Quentin L. Cook! While he did spend a lot of time extolling the wonderful qualities of women, I was also impressed with how strongly Elder Cook testified of the divine role of women, and their significance in God’s kingdom.
“God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.” Sometimes I don’t feel very strong, virtuous, or loving, but I do have a persistent desire to raise generations of God’s spirit children. Since I was young I have wanted to have many children of my own, as well as help to teach and love any child I come in contact with. I was talking with my husband on Sunday about my profound regard for children, and my sincere belief in their innocence, and our sacred duty to help them return to Heavenly Father. It seems like the desire in me to love, teach, and protect children comes from a place beyond my own desires. Elder Cook says that God placed it inside me, and I believe that He has.
Elder Cook went on to talk about equality between men and women. I attended a class from Brother Richard Miller at BYU Campus Education Week about the Patriarchal Order and Equality in Marriage. It was very enlightening and gave me a completely new perspective on equality between a husband and wife, and the patriarchal order. The two doctrines sound contradictory, but when you fully understand them, they make complete sense and give the marriage relationship a completely different meaning.
I thought it was interesting when Elder Cook mentioned that “Women by divine nature have the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings” but instead of going on to talk about how women should stay home with their kids rather than work outside the home, he mentioned how amazing it was that faithful latter day saint women in the pioneer era would take their children and leave their homes and travel across the continent. It gave me a new understanding of my responsibility to nurture my children “in other settings.”
Going back to the patriarchal order and the Priesthood, I loved Elder Cook’s comment about the Priesthood and women working together, “it is a beautiful thing to see the priesthood and the Relief Society work in perfect harmony. Such a relationship is like a well-tuned orchestra, and the resulting symphony inspires all of us.”
Elder Cook did a good job of reminding me that even though my work in the home is not paid monetarily, and may have no economic compensation, the eternal blessings I receive from being a righteous mother are more significant. I frequently find myself wondering if my husband and I made the right decision to have children as early as we did. What if we had waited and I had started a career and been a career woman for a while? Sure it would have put us in a better financial position. But would it have been worth it, spiritually? We knew that our ultimate calling in this life is to raise children up to the Lord. Could we have postponed fulfilling that calling simply to have a little more money when we did? We are learning to live frugally, within our means, and we are raising beautiful children to the Lord. Elder Cook said, “no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children.” Sometimes I feel like I could make a greater contribution to society outside the home, but Elder Cook testifies that my contribution to society inside the home is much more significant, both in this life and in the next.
It is really easy to judge women who choose to work out of the home, just as it is easy to judge women who choose not to work out of the home. One of the chief principles of the gospel is that of agency and accountability. “Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.” This principle is repeated several times in the Church Handbook of Instructions when talking about Church policies. We make our own decisions, and we are accountable for our actions. We can never blame anyone but ourselves, and we must make sure that we carefully make choices – and try to make the righteous choice.
Do you find yourself discounting your contribution as a wife and mother? Do you sometimes find yourself judging women who make choices differently than you do? Do you feel the divine qualities of “strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children”?