I was standing in a long line, at a restaurant, where I was behind some girls, maybe in their twenties. My daughter has told me that women talk this way, but I had never really witnessed it for myself. And I have to admit, I was shocked, disgusted, and very very sad.
These three women were eating out together, on a Friday night. I can only assume it was a girl’s night out. One began talking about getting some plastic surgery done. Several of her friends have had tummy tucks and breast enlargements. She said they looked horrible as they healed, but in talking to them afterward, they said it was so worth it. She was really considering it. “I just want to look like myself again!” The other women just nodded their heads and encouraged her to go for it.
Maybe you’ve heard, or even been a part of, conversations like this. Please recognize this conversation for what it is. What would their reaction have been if I had broken in and said, “Women are bombarded with false messages about their identity. Popular media figures on the radio and television set themselves up as authorities and spokespersons for women. While these media messages may contain elements of truth, most preach a gospel of individual fulfillment and self-worship, often misleading women regarding their true identity and worth. These voices offer a counterfeit happiness.” (Julie B. Beck, What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable, Oct 2007).
One of the other gals began talking about something that just broke my heart. I gathered that she had one small child at home. She was complaining about how hard it was to always have to care for this child. She was always tired, in a bad mood, even angry. She couldn’t even think about having any more children. She just needed to have some time for herself; to be human again.
These women were thinking more of themselves than their glorious purpose in life. Sometimes “purpose” is not fun, gratifying, or pretty, but it always ends gloriously. As Latter-day Saint women we know that we covenanted to be Mothers in Zion, to bring forth the children of God; to teach, train, and testify to these precious children. Is it fun? Sometimes. Is it glamorous? Hardly never. Is it gratifying? Only when others don’t give me a hard time about my choice. Is it glorious? On occasion–absolutely; and I have faith it most definitely will be in the Hereafter.
Being a woman is no picnic. Most of us do not have the perfect body. Most of us are not happy with ourselves most of the time. But if we were able to stop comparing ourselves to the world, we would probably feel differently, and most likely better, about ourselves.
Being a mother is very difficult. It is a sacrifice. Most of the time, our sacrifice goes unappreciated–for years. I don’t mind complaining about motherhood. It’s a great stress reliever, and who doesn’t like to compare horror stories? But the tone is different now. Women complain because they don’t want to sacrifice. They still want to put themselves first, above their children, and even above their husbands.
I was in a conversation with a passing stranger the other day. This woman didn’t know me, didn’t have any idea of my background, my lifestyle, my history. Casually, she asked me how many children I had. When I answered that I have six, she said, “Really, that’s amazing! You look so happy!”
She didn’t say it in a demeaning way, but she said it following the philosophy of our day. In her eyes, I should not only be exhausted, I should look exhausted. So, why in the world would I be happy?
I actually took it as a compliment, because I am happy. I’m happy that I’ve had so many children. This lady and I were talking about art, and how I had to put my art on the back burner while raising my children. Setting aside my interests really was a sacrifice, but the sacrifice was worth it.
When we were first married, we decided to have as many children as we could. People would ask us how many more we were going to have and I could never give a straight answer, because I was following the Lord’s dictate, not my own. When I was pregnant with our sixth child, I knew this would be my last pregnancy. In fact, for each of my pregnancies, I felt that I was in a partnership with the Lord. Even though I felt fear at raising them well, I leaned on the Lord to help me do what I could not do by myself. There were many sleepless nights where I was so tired I couldn’t even cry. There were disappointing days, there were exhausting days, there were overwhelming days. But I was never alone. Even when I suffered a miscarriage, the Lord was with me, and I felt I could keep going.
“Our bodies are not our own but have been bought through the sacrifice of Jesus. He bought our bodies and our spirits, and they belong to God. We surely are to take care of His possessions.” (Hugh W. Pinnock)
I may not be drop dead gorgeous, but I was purchased through the ultimate sacrifice of my Savior. He loves me for my obedience and devotion to Him. Happily, my husband loves the way I look too. My beauty is deep, rich, and wholesome. And my children are my crowning glory.
Painting, “Star Crossed”, by Katie M. Berggren, who says, “My purpose is to paint and capture the special moment between mother and child”. Find her work at http://kmberggren.com