Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Mission-Motherhood Parallel

If you missed my General Conference Book Club post on Sunday, we read Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita’s talk, which made me think of Elder W. Christopher Waddell’s talk from Priesthood session, so I read them both.

This week while I was reading Elder Yamashita’s talk and Elder Waddell’s talk, I was struck with a more personal application, since I didn’t serve a proselyting mission. I was married when I was 19, and although I had always thought I would serve a mission it wasn’t a top priority for me. Marriage in the temple and starting a family were my priorities, and what I had been preparing myself for.

Studying these talks, I realized that motherhood is as much of a mission for me as any 18-month mission could have been, and I should treat it as such.

Now, I don’t want anyone who did serve a mission to think that I am minimizing their mission. I am so grateful for full time missionaries! As a missionary, your goal is to teach people (families) the gospel. As a mother, my goal is to teach little people (my family!) the gospel!

So, as a mother, I have been reading these talks about missionaries as if they were talking about mothers and motherhood.

I loved something Elder Yakashima said toward the end of his talk. He said that “through your love, you are imparting the love of God.” IMG_0201bwHe was speaking to missionaries, but I just had this talk with both of my small children. At separate times in the past few days I sat with each child, snuggling in the rocking chair and I told them how much Heavenly Father loves them and that my job as a mother is to show them Heavenly Father’s love by loving them. I also admitted to them that I am not as perfect at showing love as our Father in Heaven is, but that I am doing the best I can, and I hope they will be patient with me. And of course, those precious children are so patient with me!

Elder Waddell said, “Your mission (motherhood) will become holy ground to you. You will witness the miracle of conversion as the Spirit works through you to touch the hearts of those you teach (your children).” I have been feeling motherhood become sacred ground to me. It is a holy work I am doing, although sometimes the drudgery distracts me from that holiness.

IMG_0148bwThen Elder Waddell went on to describe how to prepare to be a missionary (or mother). He said that “Becoming an effective servant of the Lord (i.e., mother) will require more than being set apart (married), putting on a name tag (getting pregnant), or entering a missionary training center (bearing children). It is a process that begins long before you are referred to as “Elder” (“Mother”).”

I was preparing for motherhood from the time I was about 11 or 12. I loved listening to General Conference talks about motherhood, I loved studying the mothers of the scriptures, the pioneer mothers, my own mothers, young mothers I knew (my Young Womens’ leaders and the moms of the kids I babysat). I read parenting books when I was still a kid (I was a little bit of a nerd – but I really wanted to know how to be the best mom since I knew that was what I wanted to do more than anything else in the world!). I read the part about teaching kids in Teaching, No Greater Call.

But I love the “prerequisites” Elder Waddell points out for missionaries, because I think they are more important than anything you could read in a parenting book.

Arrive on your mission (in motherhood) with your own testimony of the Book of Mormon.” If you are going to be raising children who know, you have to be a mother who knows. A mother who knows that the Book of Mormon is true.

Arrive on your mission (in motherhood) worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.” There is nothing I can think of that has helped me be a better mother than that companionship. Nothing I have ever read or learned about motherhood has been as beneficial as having the Holy Ghost as my constant companion to teach me how to love and teach my children. Every day I fall to my knees asking the Father to give me the Holy Ghost to inspire me to say the right things, to have enough patience, to hug at the right times and to talk at the right times. I can’t do it alone. All of the books and articles and talks I have read (whether by General Authorities, LDS or secular authors) cannot even begin to fill the void that would be there if I didn’t have that companionship.

Arrive on your mission (in motherhood) ready to work.” Well, this goes without saying. Motherhood is hard work. Before that baby arrives you have to be fully prepared to work. And I don’t mean just changing diapers and cleaning up messes. I mean the emotional, mental, and spiritual work that it takes to raise a child to the Lord. We have to be active parents, teaching our children the gospel and how to be functional human beings. And it is exhausting (and I only have two, and they are still young! I just don’t know how Susan and Monserrat feel – but I am sure it is more exhausted than I have ever felt!)

In case I didn’t say it already – I am extremely grateful for all the women I know who have served missions. They are amazing examples to me. I am also grateful for the opportunity I have to be a mother, and that I can know that I can prepare myself and serve a different kind of mission as a mother.

Did you serve a mission before you became a mother? How has it helped you be a better mother? If you didn’t serve a mission before motherhood – like me – how have you learned from the examples of other missionaries, or from the purpose of missionaries?


  1. Ohhhh, I love the insights you've provided here! I will have to go and read through Elder Waddell's talk with a motherhood perspective.

  2. This is a FANTASTIC post.

    My mom had me when she was 19 and was sad she didn't go on a mission. Her stake president told her, "the greatest mission you can ever serve is the mission of motherhood." But I never thought of applying actual mission-y stuff to motherhood like you've done here. Genius!

  3. This is great! :D Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights!

    Like you, I was married long before old enough to serve a mission (18.5). I was also preparing years before-hand, AND I too read parenting books (but mostly self improvement books); my favorite book at the age of about15 was "Be Your Best Self" by Thomas S Monson.

    Thanks again!
    Corine :D

  4. I love this idea too! Thanks for sharing your insights Becca :) You're a great mom!

  5. Wonderful insights. Thanks so much for sharing. All the time growing up I wanted to be a wife and mother, but the Lord had other plans for me. I went on a mission, and one day sobbing on my room at the MTC asking WHY did I have to go on a mission, the word of the Lord came to me and told me that my husband would need me to be a returned missionary. Fast forward almost ten years--I married a non-member! Family and friends thought I was crazy (so do I some days), but I was assured that he would join the church. He did too, when we'd been married for six years. We have one daughter and four sons. I have been the one to teach my sons about the priesthood and their duties; I knew what a mission was like so I could/can advise them on how to prepare. Our oldest boy will be home in three weeks! One day in the midst of mothering five little children I complained out loud to nobody "These children are interfering with my work." I felt the Lord remind me "They are your work." That has guided me ever since. I love being a mother, but unlike a missionary, there is no release date! It is an eternal calling, one that takes much enduring to the end. Thanks again for your testimony.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! It's amazing how the Lord knows each of our circumstances and will prepare us for His purposes if we will let him. I'm still working on really understanding the Lord's will for me.

      Thank you again for sharing your story and your testimony!

  6. WOW how grateful I am to have fallen upon this article! (Changed my perspective) I was baptised at 21 and served a mission at 24. What an amazing experience it was, one I think about daily! It strengthened my testimony and taught me the hard work that comes with living and teaching this gospel. I admit I have never thought about motherhood the same as missionary work. The idea makes sense, especially if you think about the 3 fold mission of the church (strengthen members, redeem the dead, & preach the gospel) they're all the same thing in different realms- missionary work. This post has brought an entire new perspective to me regarding missionary work and motherhood. I am a mother to 2 wonderful little boys, I agree that every topic spoken regarding how to be a successful missionary applies to motherhood. Thank you for sharing your inspiration!


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