Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Faith in Motherhood

Having a journalist in the family is great for me, because she keeps me thinking. Of course I think every day, but Tam poses great questions about the things that she is thinking about and it stirs me to think about topics that I wouldn't necessarily be musing over at the time. Last week, she asked me and the other moms in her family and life what it means to us to be a mother of faith. I figure if I'm going to respond, I might as well do it here, so that you can start thinking about what it means to you to be a mother of faith (and share with us)!

First of all, I'd like to define faith for this discussion. When I speak of faith, I don't just mean that I adhere to a religion or belief system. I mean the deep down feeling, the conviction that I can never deny, that God is real. That He hears my prayers. That He loves and cares about little old me. That He will bless me as I do my best to follow Him. Faith to me means trusting God that He can see things beyond my own vision and that His Plan for me is greater than anything I could dream up. I have faith that Jesus Christ is who He said He is-- the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Prince of peace.

Now, how does that affect me as a woman and a mother? My faith in God truly affects every part of my life. Surely my faith had an impact on my decision to have children, particularly on the decision to start our family while Jared was still in graduate school and there were plenty of financial reasons to wait. Even now, I catch myself for a moment dreaming of how different our financial situation would be if I had stayed in the work force for five more years until Jared's practice was up and running-- but I wouldn't trade those five years for all the money in the world. We knew that it was the right time and that the Lord didn't want us to postpone our family for selfish reasons or to rely on our own strength. Surely I have been able to see the Lord's hand more clearly in my life because we needed Him more to provide for our needs at times.

I firmly believe that in becoming a mother, I am fulfilling my destiny; not a destiny that was forced upon me, but the plan that God had for me if I chose to accept it. And I feel myself growing and becoming the woman He would have me be through my mothering experience.

Motherhood has required leaps of faith on my part-- times when I had to trust and let go of fears that might hold me back. Making major moves, buying a home, accepting callings (or assignments) in the Church that were overwhelming, buying a practice, having another baby . . . and then another, pulling my kids out of public school -- all these and more have tested me and allowed me to prove God. He has blessed me in so many ways that I can't even express. I have never had cause to regret a single decision that I made based on faith-- and the sense that I knew what God wanted me to do, even if I couldn't see the why or how.

As a mother of faith, I accept the enormous responsibility of giving my children not only physical nourishment and love, but also to instill faith in them. This can be an overwhelming prospect if you let it be, but I have found that as I lean on the Lord for help, this comes naturally. Regular daily family scripture study and prayer have a huge impact, but so do the small, everyday moments when opportunities arise to teach a principle or share an experience with my children that has strengthened my faith. Moms of young children have the advantage of the fact that their children want so much to be around them, want to soak up everything they say, want to feel important and loved. Thus, they are easy to teach, for they make apt pupils. I know this will slip away a bit as they become teenagers and I must make the most of it now. What is, perhaps, more daunting, is knowing that my actions must teach my faith as well. I pray for strength to live up to the values that I hold dear and teach my children.

I have found that my mothering is vastly improved if I take time each morning to strengthen my faith through a study of God's word, prayer, and pondering on my life and His plans for me. I think it benefits me first and foremost because in this way I invite Him to participate with me in my mothering, but also because it reminds me of the big picture. Much of the daily work of motherhood may seem monotonous or menial, but when you have a clear perspective, even those tasks have a beauty and greater purpose. I find myself to be more patient, more able to listen to my children, and more in tune with the Spirit (some might call it with my intuition, but I think it is more than that) to know how to handle situations that arise.

Tam asked us: what is the most important thing about your faith that you want your kids to know? For me, it is that we can each have a personal relationship with Father in Heaven; that we each have access to His guidance and to feel of His love in our lives. I want my children to feel His power and have experiences that bring them to trust Him as I do. Then it will be their faith on which they rely and not mine.

I am so grateful for the way that my faith shapes my life and my values and for the way that it strengthens me and leads me to good things. I am grateful that because of faith, I am able to be brave in the face of hard things, to feel joy in the midst of trials, and to have hope in the future. Could I be a mother without faith? Sure. But faith makes me a much better mother than I could ever be on my own.

What role does faith play in your mothering? How does it change the way you mother? The way you think about yourself? Please share!


Tamara said...

I love this. :) Thank you for sharing so much insight. Makes me so happy to be related to someone so smart and loving.

The MacGregors said...

Wow, you certainly had an answer for her! :) And I love the pics- especially since you posted one of you this time!

Myrna Snider Thomas said...

Wouldn't you just hate to try to do this job (motherhood) without the knowledge that you are not in this alone. I love that He loves these little ones(and you big ones of mine) just as much as I do and that He knows much better how to deal with everything than I do. To try to do this on your own power is more than daunting.

angelj44 said...

Great post!
I have to say that it took a lot of faith for me to move to Washington and it takes a lot of faith to be a mother where my children are the religious minority. When I first moved to Washington and Talmage started school I had a lot of anxiety about how my children would be affected by the world around them.
At our first Stake Conference one of the Stake Presidency talked about how 30 years earlier he had the same concerns when he moved his family from Utah and shared with us how they instilled the gospel into their home. Now what he said wasn't any mind blowing epiphany it was the simple things like family prayer, FHE, and scripture study. But what I learned from his talk is I'm not in this alone in this experience and if I have faith and am consistent with my children in the little things my home will be blessed. This talk gave me a lot of comfort and has strengthen my faith in this endeavor.
I want my children to know that I am a mother of faith and I'm grateful for the opportunities that I have to teach them about faith.

Karin said...

Amazing post! So inspiring and a definite reminder of our privilage as women to be mothers. Love your blog

Laura@livingabigstory said...

What a great testimony! For me, I think faith in motherhood focuses on my confidence that, if I partner with the Savior to receive his assistance, I can be the mother that my children need.

Great question!