Letting go….welcoming home

So many milestones and so many emotions. Most of us remember the first day we watched our sweet 5 year old climb the stairs of the bus to head off to Kindergarten.   I don’t know about you but I was a little teary eyed.  The worst one was my youngest. He was excited and I was feeling a little lonely.  But after a bit, wow I actually got some things accomplished!  Then I remember sending my oldest to college – her graduation was a time of rejoicing for all of us. She struggled all through high school and that diploma was a huge victory for her~ but college, well that was hard. I didn’t sleep much for the first week. Then, I discovered a whole host of positives and started to enjoy her journey with her.  Sending my son on a mission was easy.  I missed him but I knew exactly what he was going to experience and I loved every minute of that journey.  Watching him come home early was the hard part.  Experiencing the struggle he has had the past four months has been heart wrenching so you’d think that last Sunday when I put him on a plane for South Carolina that I would be rejoicing in the fact that he is embarking on a new journey of self discovery.  I think I cried more that weekend than any other time I have had to watch a child go, and yet now, once again, i can see positives for him and for our family.

  As a parent, we have to experience many types of letting go.  Some, like the ones I mentioned, are obvious.  Graduations, wedding, missions, college, work….all are part of our children’s growing up processes. They are milestones in their lives that signify that maybe as a parent, we have done something right.  Yet how often do we second guess ourselves during these milestones?  Have I taught them everything they need to know?  Have I helped them gain the confidence they will need to succeed?  Do they know the value of hard work?  Will they make the right choices once they are out of my sphere of influence?  Will they remember the things they have been taught?  Is the world ready for my child?  All we can tell ourselves is that we did our best.  And really, the most important question that we need to ask is, Do they know that I love them, no matter what?

There are so many types of letting go that we do as parents besides the physical.  We have to let go of anger, of fear, of our own personal dreams, of financial stability and a host of other things.  But we have chosen to do that willingly because we love being mothers and fathers.

This is going to get a bit personal, but this last week was Easter. As I have thought about watching my son leave and how much it hurt, my thoughts kept returning to my Father in Heaven and how He had to watch His children leave to come to earth. My children, as I send them off, remember me.  They hopefully know that i love them and that I am constantly here for them.  His children came to earth with absolutely no memory of Him, or the life they lived before.  They (we) are taught by earthly parents and guided by a conscience (which we refer to as the light of Christ) or by the Holy Ghost.  His children have to learn of Him through teachings and then through faith.  They don’t get to go home for Christmas. They don’t get the comfort of a hug when things go bad.  They don’t have the ability to talk with Him face to face, instead have to learn to pray and how to understand how the Spirit communicates with them.  A long, drawn out process that can take years.  I can’t even imagine how He does it.  How He has let us go so perfectly and how patiently He waits for us to come to Him.  

Then, on top of all of this, there is Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother.  As I watched my son leave, I knew he would have difficult times. I knew he would struggle.  There would be moments he would want to give up.  i also knew that I am just a phone call away. That whatever he deals with, i am going to be there. I also knew that he would have to walk some of this journey alone in order to grow.  I know that is exactly what Heavenly Father knows about us, but when I think about Gethsemane and the cross at Golgotha, it takes my breath away. As a father, it must have been beyond words to watch the suffering His son went through in Gethsemane.  I imagine He sent angels to be with the Savior because He couldn’t be there.  Then as Christ hung on the cross, can you imagine how painful it must have been for Heavenly Father to leave Jesus to suffer alone.  So much so that he cried out to the Father and asked why He had forsaken him.  It was necessary but I don’t know if I could have done it.  Kind of gave a whole new perspective to the letting go process to me.  I am grateful for the examples of my Father in Heaven and my Heavenly Mother (if you aren’t LDS – ask me about what we believe about her).  They show me every day the kind of parent I know I need to be.  

 I guess that what I want to end up saying is that letting go isn’t such a bad thing, even though it is hard.  I know the day my son flies home from South Carolina, I am going to see why it was so important to let him go.  And isn’t that what letting go is all about, welcoming them home again?!  I know to the Father it is.

Taught by Their Mothers

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There is a story in the Book of Mormon (a companion scripture volume that we believe goes hand in hand with the Bible) that, to me, symbolizes all that motherhood is about and it applies across the board no matter what religion you are.  But first, let me refer to my previous post.  When I last posted, my heart was heavy and I really didn’t know where to turn for answers.  My sweet son had an appt. the next day with an ecclesiastical leader (his Bishop) that he really wasn’t looking forward to attending.  After much discussion and encouragement, he met with this wonderful man and walked out of his office a different person than he walked in.  I talked to our Bishop later and he shared with me this particular account in the scriptures and how it applied to my son.

In this scriptural account there is a group of people whose past had been filled with violence and hatred.  They were taught by a couple of young men about their Savior Jesus Christ and His love for them. When they learned of this and felt the love of God, their hearts changed and they no longer had the desire to hate or to fight.  They made covenants of peace and buried their weapons of war.  Years passed and there came a time when their enemies declared war on them.  They were torn between protecting their families and keeping this covenant they had made with God.  They had sons who were strong young men of God who had not made this covenant.  The scriptures say:”And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage and also for strength and activity; but behold this was not all- they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before Him.”

There were 2000 of these young men who went to war, and they fought in many fierce battles.Another scripture says: “Now they never had fought, and yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”  How powerful a statement this is on the influence of mothers.  Even though we don’t always think they hear, our children are listening to our words and there will come a time that they will remember what we have taught them, and how much we love them.

Now, how did this apply to my son?  In the first great battle, these young men fought valiantly and not one was killed.  “Behold I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.  But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God, yea never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength.”  It is the next battle, however, that applies to my sweet missionary. “And it came to pass that there were two hundred out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also to the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.”

This great Bishop reminded my son that he too had been fighting a battle.  A physical and a spiritual battle and he was one of those who had fainted because of loss of blood.  Did that make him less valiant or faithful?  No, it did not.  He exercised courage and faith when he chose to serve a mission and is just one of those who fainted, not from loss of blood literally, but with medical and other health issues.  He told him he was no less worthy than those 2000 scriptural warriors.

Were those faithful mothers praying for those 2000 young men?  Absolutely.  Were those prayers answered?  Beyond a doubt.  Does the Lord hear my prayers any less than he heard those mothers?  No and I need to remember that.  I am so thankful for an inspired leader who spoke words that I needed to hear as well as my son.

Not yet like Job

I value motherhood….Truly, I do and I am honored to be asked to be a contributor on this blog. Today, however, as much as I value motherhood, I don’t value myself as a mother.  There are so many standards that the world places on mothers and that we place on each other in our quest to be successful and adequate mothers to our children, and more often than not we cannot live up to those standards (at least in our minds).

I want to share my story with you.  First of all I wanted to be a mother from the time I was little but I wasn’t so sure I would be good at it. I wasn’t interested in getting married right out of high school so I began attending college.  I loved being in college and soon found myself wanting to expand my horizons from there, so I went on an LDS mission to England. What an experience that was!  Soon after returning home, I met my husband and we were married a year later.  Because I was 25, I decided I needed to start having children.  When my oldest was born, every fear and doubt I had about being a mother completely disappeared.  This was my true calling!  I had no problems getting pregnant and although my pregnancies were rough, they weren’t impossible so I kept having children.  That all changed with my 6th pregnancy.  This was unexpected and a little emotionally challenging, but I found a way to wrap my head around a 6th child and became happy.  Then in Sept of 2001 my world came to a halt. I discovered this little baby had died in her 6th month and on 09/10/01 I delivered a perfect stillborn daughter.  I held this sweet baby and we buried her a week later. I won’t go into the grieving process (I will save that for another time). What I will say is that started a period of 9 years and many many miscarriages.  Why didn’t I stop trying?  I don’t know except that I didn’t want it to end that way.  Why am I sharing that?  Because I want you to know that I love being a mother enough and I believe in motherhood enough to be willing to go through that kind of pain to do it.

Now to jump forward, from my former statement, you have probably figured out that I am LDS- or Mormon.  That is why Motherhood is so important to me.  I understand why I am here and what my purpose is. I have one child who has chosen to leave the church she was raised in.  I now have another who has returned home from a mission early beause of health reasons.  He is why I don’t feel like such a wonderful mother today.  He and I drove to an appt today and he informed me he isn’t sure he wants to go back out. I understand if illness prevents it, but this is something altogether different. All of a sudden all of my feelings of failure and inadequacy come back to the forefront and I ask myself what I have done wrong. He is so lost and without direction and I am lost right along with him.

So, today as I have felt my heart breaking and have spent much of my day alternating in tears and pleading to the Lord, I keep hearing a small voice whisper into my mind. “My daughter, peace be unto thy soul. Thou art not yet as Job.” (if you are interested, I will share all of the scripture)    Job, who lost his friends, his family, his home etc…  I have amazing friends, a husband who stands by me and fills my life with love, children who despite trials, try their very best to honor God and their parents, and a God who will not give up on me and has entrusted me with being a mother to 5 beautiful children.  I do value motherhood and I am not sorry!