Motherhood: A Mission and Duty of High Honor”

 

I’ve been writing this very personal experience up for nearly two years, but never felt it was the right time to share it. It is in no way meant to tell others what they ought to do…or not to do. It is only meant to encourage thought and your own inspiration. As I sat listening to the speakers in the General Women’s meeting of the General Conference for my church, I felt strongly that now is the time to share this and I wanted to be sure to post it before I take a break from social media. 💕

I read the date at the top of the old prescription. I couldn’t believe it! I had 4 energetic kids within 6 years running around like crazy when I found that old prescription. I was exhausted, spent, and overwhelmed. But, as I saw that date, a sudden confirmation of peace, realization…flooded over me.

When I was about 8, my mom bought a cassette tape of music for Latter-day Saint children by Janeen Brady. There was a song about “Hey everybody, it’s Family Night!” and another about paying tithing on “A Dime in My Pocket.” The tunes were catchy and I loved to listen to the tape and sing along….over and over. There was only one song that I just didn’t like. The words would begin, “When I grow up I want to have a family….One little, two little, three little babies of my own….four little, five little, six little babies of my own.” Everything in my oldest-child-of-three-and-another-on-the-way heart screamed, “No!” to that song. I did not really dream of being a mother…at all…especially to “six little babies of my own.”

To be honest, that was the feeling I continued to have about motherhood…..until about halfway through my mission. Though I was not married, or even thinking about marriage at that time in my life…I received an answer to prayer that changed my heart forever. My heart became a “mother heart” as Julie B Beck calls it.

I vividly remember stopping to observe a few barefooted children who were playing near their home…a humble shelter made from various materials held together to form a small room. My heart ached and longed to understand why some children are born into difficult temporal and spiritual circumstances. “Heavenly Father, why are so many of your children born into poverty or difficult situations?” I prayed. I really didn’t expect an answer… especially one to come so quickly and so powerfully. But, an answer came immediately. It was very personal and a sacred answer. In that moment my heart understood my (Shana’s) personal and specific responsibility in God’s command to “multiply and replenish the earth.” That is the day I started to long for and prepare for any of God’s children who would be made available to me.

After my mission I married fairly quickly and our oldest was born just 11 months after that. Hindsight, I probably had some slight postpartum depression. I finally had one of these precious children in my arms, but motherhood just did not click with me until about 4-5 months in. I still remember the day I was showing a co-worker a picture of my baby and thought for the very first time (sad to admit), “He is SO cute!” I started to truly love and cherish every moment with that baby after that. About that time, I had a follow up appointment with my OB/GYN and he wrote the prescription mentioned above. It was for a form of birth control. Though we were at the financial low of our marriage and both so tired from busy lives, I could not bring myself to fill it. I remembered the feelings I had as a missionary, and we had felt and just knew there was a another little boy who was waiting to come to our family…and so through prayer and faith, we trusted the timing to Heavenly Father.

As you can imagine, we were quickly expecting again and awaiting the arrival of our second little boy. Duane and I were both working part time and both attending BYU as full time students. It was nearing the middle of the semester when our baby boy arrived….One year to the day after the prescription was written…and not filled.

Now that same son will step onto a plane to head home from his mission in Kenya next week…on that same date…his 21st birthday. I will be awaiting his arrival with as much or more anticipation as I did that first time.

As I contemplate Justis beginning that journey from Kenya back to us on his birthday, I think of that initial journey he took from Heaven to our arms that occurred more than 20 years ago. I wonder what our Heavenly Parents must have felt for Justis and each of us as they sent us away to earth for a time and long for our return? I wonder what Justis and each of us must have experienced in having to leave our Heavenly Parents? While I don’t know the answer to those thoughts, I do remember the intensity and seriousness that Justis had on his face as he was ready to walk through security when he first left for Kenya nearly two years ago. He didn’t say anything or wave or smile. He just stared at me….trusting?….wondering?…hoping he’d be back? I don’t know what he was thinking about, but the look he had on his face pierced my heart.

A month or so ago my husband prayed for Justis as he was nearing the end of his mission. As he prayed, a vivid image of that look Justis had when he left, entered my mind. It caused me to think about him leaving his Heavenly Parents to come to earth, specifically his Heavenly Mother. I imagine he must have looked back at her with the same intensity….trusting?….wondering?….hoping he’d make it back? I imagine we all looked back at our Heavenly Parents one last time for a look of assurance and peace.

With that thought in mind, is there anything more important in this life for a man or a woman than to be willing and long to welcome awaiting spirits into our lives, our homes? Is there any greater eternal purpose to our existence than to be a mother or a father…no matter our temporary situations on earth? Is there any greater blessing and responsibility than to minister or shepherd God’s children back to Him in a most personal and effective way….through families?

I love this thought from Elder Melvin J Ballard:“There is a passage in our Scriptures which the Latter-day Saints accept as divine: ‘This is the glory of God–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ [see Moses 1:39]. Likewise we could say that this is the glory of men and women–to bring to pass the mortality of the sons and daughters of God, to give earth-life to the waiting children of our Father. …. All the honor and glory that can come to men or women by the development of their talents, the homage and the praise they may receive from an applauding world, worshipping at their shrine of genius, is but a dim thing whose luster shall fade in comparison to the high honor, the eternal glory, the ever-enduring happiness that shall come to the woman who fulfils the first great duty and mission that devolves upon her to become the mother of the sons and daughters of God” (Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, 203–4).

I am forever grateful for that sacred moment when an answer came to me on on my mission. That moment was the beginning of most of the happiness I now enjoy….being a mother. I could have never imagined that motherhood could bring so much opportunity for challenge and growth….but also so much JOY! And, as much as I long to have Justis back in my arms this week…I long even more for the day that he and each of us are able to return into the loving arms of Heavenly Parents. In fact, today I want that more for Them than for us….because oh how They must just want us back!!! The finding of that old prescription that day was a reminder to me that God is truly in the details of our lives, and He truly has a specific plan for each one of us…a plan to send each to earth, allow each to choose, learn and grow, and then to help each have the chance to return home to Him! That plan, for each and every one of us, is only possible because long ago God sent His beloved Son on a mission…even Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.