Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Reflections: Covenant Motherhood

I just finished reading an absolutely wonderful book on Thursday. It is called Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen. I heard about this book on a blog I read months ago and put it on hold at the library...and it took at least 4 months for my turn to come. I'm so glad it came when it did, though. It's given me so much to think about and has helped me a lot.

I know that I am a daughter of God. I know it. (Sometimes I forget and often I don't act as I should, but I know this to be true, that I am a daughter of God and have divine worth.) I know that my role as a mother is important, noble and irreplaceable. I feel like I have kind of understood why...as I raise and shape my children, I act as a guide and a teacher to help them become the women they are meant to be. I shape the future, literally, as I teach and train them. The future of this world and their own unique futures. I know that they are precious daughters of God.

But this book really helped me to grasp the magnitude and magnificence of motherhood just a bit more. Sorensen examines 9 roles that the Savior has and then relates how our roles as mothers reflect his role. The roles she examines are that Jesus Christ creates, teaches, succors, provides, cleanses, defends and protects, loves and sacrifices, forgives and shares burdens, and saves. For example, she spoke about how we create...both literally in the sense of creating life and giving birth to our children, but also in the many things we do...decorating, cooking, sewing, getting a child to smile and laugh, preparing a family home evening lesson, and so on. She went to a conference during a time when she felt exhausted and overwhelmed. A young mother shared that she prayed to love what the Lord loves. As we mother, we are doing what the Lord loves. If we pray to love what he loves, we will not feel weary in well-doing, but will find joy.

I really loved the chapter on how Jesus Christ cleanses. How I need his cleansing in my life! How grateful I am for His Atonement and for the gift of repentance! She compares this to what we do for our children. She said that one day as she was cleaning her baby's diaper, the scripture "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" came into her mind. (Isaiah 1:18) She writes,
"It dawned on me that Jesus Christ was in the cleaning business. A crucial part of His mission was taking things or people that were soiled and making them clean. In that moment, I felt a flow of love and revelation--clusters of thoughts and ideas that started to fit together like a puzzle. My job was a reflection of His. It could teach me about Him and make me more like Him. This was life-changing information." (page 36)

She talks about how being unclean, either physically or spiritually, is uncomfortable. A cleansing shower brings relief. So helping another to be clean is an act of great service. When we wash our children, when we clean their clothes, when we scrub mud off the floor, each of these acts is us copying the acts of our Master. Yes, these jobs can get tiresome, and yes, they are repetitive. But, just as we must clean and reclean our homes and our children, the Savior must clean and reclean us. Surely he never tires of forgiving us our sins and washing us clean. She writes,
My simple service of cleaning in my own home and with my own family mirrors His greater mission. It makes me love Him more, know Him more, serve Him more, understand Himm more, and even become more like He is. ANd when I think of all the times I sin and repeat the sin or fall into new ons, I realize that I am not much different from my children adn their messes; nevertheless, Jesus Christ cleanses me over and over and over again because He loves me. Cleaning equals service and service equals love. (page 40)

She then writes that after saying all of that, she doesn't think that means that we are to have a perfect house. We hear about our home being like a temple. She says, "Our home is a temple, not because it looks like one but because of the eternally important work that happens there." She says we should want a clean home and work at it, but be patient and forgiving with ourselves and our families.(page 40)
I just loved that chapter on how Jesus Christ cleans. I am going to try to ponder this more and feel this way more when I am doing the (endless) tasks of cleaning my home.

The other thing that touched me so deeply was in Chapter 10. She referred to the story in Mark 12: 42-44, "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (I have always only thought of this in a monetary sense. I try to be generous in what I give, but because I am so blessed, I've never thought of myself as being like this widow...but this part of the book brought me to tears and I've been thinking about it ever since.)

Parenting is not a system of efficiency. I'm sure He (Christ) could parent my children much better than I can, but He allows me to do it because I learn how to be more like Him in the process. ...He praised the poor widow woman even though she gave only two tiny mites--a seemingly insignificant offering compared to what everyone else offered. ...Once again, the Savior showed us His attitude toward what we are able to give. He does not demand a flawless offering, and He honors and appreciates our best efforts. He calls them enough. (page 80-81)

Somehow pondering that story in regards to my offering as a mother has brought so much peace and a whole new depth to those verses. I often feel that what I am able to give my children is so lacking. I lose my patience too often. I don't always do the things that I know I should. I try, but I miss days of scripture study or sometimes miss a week of Family Home Evening. In many ways, my offering as a mother is like that widow's mite. It isn't much on some days. But if it is MY best effort, it will be enough. That brings tremendous joy and peace. And I believe that it also extends to other areas of my life as well. I am not a perfect wife or teacher of the year. I make mistakes as a Relief Society President. I am not always a great friend. But if I am giving my best effort, if I am casting in all that I have to give at that moment, it is enough. And he will magnify my efforts and wipe away my tears and make me more than I am alone. That is a powerful promise to me!

There are at least 20 or 30 other quotes I would love to share. I love how she combined scriptures, quotes from leaders of the church, personal insights and her own (and others') experiences.

Perhaps the thing that I loved most is that Sorensen shared brilliant mothering moments as well as moments of discouragement and mistakes. I finished the book feeling inspired and awed, but not feeling guilty. And my testimony and love for the Savior grew.