We worry way too much about whether or not we trust our spouse

Image from LDS.org

I tried about 17 times to think of a suave introduction this topic, but I can’t think of one (okay, maybe I tried three, but I am inherently lazy and I tend to exaggerate, also I don’t think I’ve ever been suave in my entire life).  I have had this topic on the tip of my tongue for months and I haven’t written it up because I know how easily it can be misconstrued.  So, I’m just going to say it:

We worry way too much about whether or not we trust our spouse.

(If my life was a sitcom I would insert a spit take right here.  Also a laugh track, not for this moment specifically, but because I think having a laugh track may be the only way to get people to laugh at my jokes.)

I know, I KNOW, we all want to be in loving and trusting marriage relationships, and in no way do I want to undermine how wonderful it can be.  But for many marriages this is not the case.

The reasons you may not trust your spouse may happen for a variety of valid reasons, or maybe the lack of trust is even keeping you from getting married.  None of this precludes you from having a successful marriage.

Here is the thing:  Instead of worrying about building a trusting relationship with your spouse who may or may not have earned it, worry about building a relationship of trust with God, learn His will for you, and then do that thing with confidence.  That’s it.  If you are doing God’s will, you are doing the right thing.  Don’t worry about the rest.  This is what we are asked to do regardless of the depth or type of problem.  .

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

(2 Nephi 4:34)

I see so many comments and questions about how to rebuild trust with your spouse after betrayal.  These questions are coming from men and women who have been so deeply hurt and so badly want to learn how to be emotionally healthy again!  Trying to force yourself to trust someone prematurely can be so damaging!  If this is you, please don’t let this be a stumbling block on your road to recovery!  Set this piece aside for later, and work on building a trusting (aka faithful) relationship with God.  I promise, I promise, this is the quickest and most efficient way to heal.

If that means that God is asking you to stay in a marriage where you don’t trust your spouse, stay in and trust God.  If that means God is asking you to leave and find a new path, then leave and trust in God.  If that means that God is asking you to do something that makes no sense to you, then do that thing and trust in God.  Even if there is not even a smudge of a trust problem in your marriage, give your loved one a high five, and then trust God first!  (Maybe that should be the other way around, trust first, then high five.)

When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.

(The Great Commandment – Love the Lord, Ezra Taft Benson, April 1988)

So the question to ask ourselves is:  Do I trust God to the point I will act on whatever He tells me to do regardless of my perception of things?

If right now you are thinking “How do I build a trusting relationship with God?” you may be disappointed by my answers.  It’s stuff you’ve heard before a million times.  There is no shortcut, there is no spiritual infomercial product, we just have to buckle down and commit 100% to the standard answers:

  • Go to church with the intent to renew covenants and worship through Jesus Christ
  • Read your scriptures with the intent to be taught by the Holy Ghost
  • Pray with the intent to communicate with Heavenly Father

Every day, every day, every day.  (Okay, you don’t have to physically go to church every day, but you can live your covenants and worship every day.)  When you do these things with both a sincere heart (a true desire to learn) and real intent (when you get an answer you’re actually going to ACT on the knowledge) you will get answers.  You can’t just be curious to see what the answers would be, you need both the sincere heart and the real intent for the personal revelation to come.  But then you will build trust with God.  You will feel His love for you.  And unlike all the infomercials where the results they show are not typical, these results are guaranteed.



When I encounter a difficulty in life, whether through sin or affliction, I’ve recognized that I tend to fall back on three basic reactions to the pain.  To illustrate, I’m going to relate each of the three methods with going to the dentist, not because I don’t like going to the dentist, I love it (seriously, it’s weird, but I totally do), but because the parameters fit so well!

The first reaction to pain is avoidance.  This is like having a known dental issue, and pretending it doesn’t exist.  The dislike of the dentist is greater than the discomfort at the moment so I put it off either by telling myself that I’ll “eventually” make an appointment when I’m not so busy, or that the problem isn’t that bad so it doesn’t really matter.  I compensate by chewing on the other side of my mouth, or by avoiding certain foods that are too hot, cold or sweet.  Sure, we can get away with avoidance for awhile, years even, with relatively  minimal discomfort but eventually it will catch up to us.  It will eventually come to a head and other greater problems will emerge, a cracked tooth, problems on the side of the mouth you were using to compensate because of the increased load, gum issues, infections, root canals, etc.

When we are experiencing a trial, or delaying repentance, it can seem like avoidance is possible.  Months and years go by with relatively minimal discomfort.  As long as you avoid that person, or stay away from that place, or don’t bring up that topic, you can keep on skipping down the lane whistling a tune and pretending the problem doesn’t exist.  Unfortunately, just as with the tooth, eventually it will get to the point where you cannot avoid the problem anymore, and it will be compounded with greater issues and manifest itself in a variety of ways.  Anxiety, depression, marriages fall apart, you lose those who love you, guilt, shame, and the list goes on.  I am not saying that these things only happen as a result of sin or affliction, in fact some of these very things are often the affliction we are dealing with in the first place.  I only want to point out that they compound on each other when we avoid the initial problem.

The second method is when we become proud of our pain.  This is like going to the dentist for a root canal without anything to numb the pain.  Maybe you hate needles so you don’t want a shot.  Maybe that pinch of the shot is so terrifying that you’d rather just not have it.  You know the problem needs to be solved, and so you white knuckle your way through it so you can survive to the end.

This one is so common and is done by righteous and well meaning people everywhere.  We recognize that we are to learn from our sins and our trials and so we don’t avoid the work involved.  Maybe we don’t like that pinch of confession or repentance.  Maybe we don’t want to forgive someone.  Maybe we just don’t think this problem is serious enough for pain relief.  We become proud of our pain, as if the pain itself is the lesson we are supposed to learn.  We are hurting like crazy with tears streaming, but we put a smile on our face and are so impressed with ourselves that we are fixing the problem.  We hang onto our pain like a badge of honor.  Look at what I survived.  Look at how much I can handle.  Look at how brave I am. Unfortunately this is just as unnecessary as dental work without any pain relief.  Which leads us to our third method:

The third method is when we allow the atonement of Jesus Christ to take the sting out of our pain.  This is like what most of us do when we have work to be done at the dentist.  We go to the dentist, we close our eyes when they put that big needle in our mouth and we are relieved when they start the work and we feel nothing.  The work is still being done, the problem is still being solved, but we don’t feel the pain.  It may be uncomfortable as your mouth is stretched as big as it can go and 27 instruments and hands are in your mouth at the same time, but it is not painful.

When we process our sins or afflictions using the atonement of Jesus Christ the work will be done.  We may feel uncomfortable as we are stretched and grow, but we will not feel the pain.  We will see that the real lesson to be learned is the understanding of how great the atonement of Jesus Christ is and how to enact that more fully in our lives.  We recognize that when we have faith in Him, and on Him, He truly can accomplish all that He has promised us.  The work that needs to be done hasn’t changed one bit, but our ability to bear it has significantly increased.

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

Mosiah 16:8

The sting of death, the sting of sin, the sting of affliction, is swallowed up in Christ through the atonement and resurrection.  He felt all the pain so we did not have to.  So how do we enact the atonement in our lives so the work can be done without us feeling the pain?

11 . . . for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

12 ¶Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and repent, turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and he will turn away the evil from you.

Joel 2:11-13 bold emphasis added, italics from JST

He is strong that executeth his word: This is the biggest difference in whether you feel the pain or not.  Do you sit in church, or do you worship in church?  Do you read the scriptures, or are you actively becoming what the scriptures are intended to help you become?  Do you believe Jesus Christ is who he says he is, or do you also have that he can do the things he says and allow him the space to do those things in your life?  Executing his word is greater than just listening, it is to carry out or put into effect.

Turn ye even to me with all your heart:  We know we are children of God.  When you encounter a difficulty, as yourself “How would a child of God solve this problem?”  It seems silly, but so often I’ve found myself trying to solve problems myself instead of remembering that I have a divine nature and I can call upon the powers of Heaven to help me and angels to guide, direct and protect me.  I need to know with all my heart that I am a child of God, and live my life that way, with all my heart.

And rend your heart, and not your garments: Rending  garments was a way that people in the Old Testament times expressed their grief and sorrow.  In this verse we are being counseled to focus more on the inward expressions than the outward ones.  Focus on the methods and solutions that change our eternity, even if that means short term discomfort, and don’t worry about the rest.  We will recognize how little it matters.  Don’t get distracted by what you think you’re supposed to do, or ways you think you’re supposed to act, or things you’re supposed to feel.  Focus on the counsel you receive from God.    It doesn’t matter what other people think of us, it matters what God thinks of us.  It doesn’t matter what our consequences are if they are returning us to the path that leads to God.  It doesn’t matter what the cause of our affliction is if it is teaching us of the infinite nature of the atonement.

The more I understand the atonement the more I recognize that it truly has the power to take away the sting of pain.  It truly can stretch us and help us grow efficiently and quickly without breaking us.  We do not have to just survive this mortal journey, but we can thrive in it.  We do not have to grin and bear it, we can become glorious in it.

Motherhood – as to my strength I am weak

meme-motherhood-ballard-1246791-galleryFamily scripture study at my house doesn’t look like it does in the church videos.  It usually looks like this:

“…The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings; The rings, and nose jewels…”  (2 Nephi 13:20-21) My husband is reading, barely holding it together because he says men still aren’t any better at describing women’s clothing than Isaiah was.

“What’s a nose jewel?”  my 9 year old asks.  The response he gets is “Maybe it’s a booger.”  That doesn’t come from my 7 year old, or my 9 year old, it came from my 36 year old husband. Since I am the only girl in the whole family, not counting the dog (which I don’t, mostly because she would side with the boys anyway), that reply went over exactly the way you imagine it would.  Laughter trumped all, significantly delaying bedtime because although outwardly I was rolling my eyes I can’t resist those moments where we are unified in joy, and my kids know it.

Oh well, we will have to save those life changing, soul saving family scripture moments for another night.

When it comes to motherhood I wholeheartedly echo the words of Ammon who said “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak.”  (Alma 26:12)  I’m not just being modest, it is 100% true, and it is 100% okay.  It is supposed to be that way.   My greatest desire as a mother is for my children to be worthy to receive exaltation. But no matter how hard I try I can’t do that.  In fact, it is not even my job to achieve that!  That is the job of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, it is their sole purpose.

“For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)

Even if I am the best mother in the world I cannot atone for my children.  I cannot bring to pass their eternal life.  It is the work of God.  When I rate my success as a mother based on how well I am doing Heavenly Father’s job I will come out feeling like a failure every time!  Do you have faith that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are actively working towards their purpose?  When we act with the knowledge that they are doing their part we can stop being distracted and focus on our portion of the task.

So what is our purpose in parenting?

Elder Bednar loves to cross reference Moses 1:39 with Doctrine and Covenants 11 and as I read the section with parenting in mind I saw my role as a parent in a whole new way.  My friends, the entire section is a treasure trove of parenting advice, I hope you will choose to study it, but here are a few highlights (verses as noted):

“4. Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.

“8. Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.”

I love that these verses point out that if we have a desire to assist in the raising of this generation, we are called to the work.  Mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle, leader, friend, whatever your title you have a stewardship and can have be a positive influence in this work.

“9. Say nothing but repentance unto this generation.  Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.”

In essence repentance means more than just repenting of sin, but implies a change of mind and heart that draws us closer to God.  It also points out that we are His assistants in this work, that sure lets us know who the boss is!

“20. Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.

“21. Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.

“”23. . . . Seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added according to that which is just.”

This is the essence of our work, to keep the commandments.  We cannot assist in converting our children unless we are converted ourselves.  Period.  Everything else, including parenting, will follow.  As Elder Packer famously told us decades ago “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”  (Little Children, October 1986) It will not be a study of the best time out methods, or chore charts, or grades, or activates that make us better parents. I am not trying to say that a study of the doctrine will negate the need of the study of the other things or, for parenting will always require consistent and deliberate effort.   Parenting without works is dead.  But that as we draw closer to Jesus Christ we will have greater ability to discern the truths and methods needed to teach in the best possible way, independent of cultural trends, pressures and distractions.  We will find ourselves becoming partners with Him in the raising of the souls that we have been entrusted with and we will be successful  in our role.

Although the deepest desires of our hearts for those we love is “most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World) it is not a guarantee that they will choose to be successful in that quest.  Remember that even a perfect father, Heavenly Father, still lost 1/3 of His children, and they didn’t even have the excuse of not remembering!  Don’t beat yourself up for things outside your stewardship that go wrong.

Chances are if you are keeping your covenants, if you are doing your best to become like Him, if you are seeking personal revelation and action on that revelation, you are probably a pretty fantastic parent.  Righteously act as if you have all the powers of heaven behind you, because you do.  Have faith that Heavenly Father has His eye on things, because He does.  Believe that you can be successful in your role, because you can be!

Prints of the Nails


A couple months ago I was given the opportunity to share some of my experiences and my testimony in a way that when completed has a possibly to have a large outreach.  Before the appointed day I was confident knowing that this opportunity was something I was supposed to do and I could see the guidance Lord leading up to it.  On the way home, all the doubts started creeping in.  I shared some very personal things about me and my family, and all of a sudden all the worst case scenarios of how people could react started overwhelming me.  I was lead to, and found great comfort in, these familiar scriptures:

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.

(3 Nephi 11:14-15)

Whenever I had read these scriptures previously I had always thought about what it would be like to be physically present at that moment, to feel for myself the prints in His hands and feet, but after this experience I thought about it from Christ’s point of view.  As I imagined what it would be like to have a multitude come up to me, and feel my hands and feet and thrust their hands into my side I realized what a truly personal experience He allowed each person to have.  To allow a multitude to come up and physically touch my hands and side would be an uncomfortable thing for me, and yet Christ allowed each person individually to do so.

As I was pondering this, my focus shifted to the scars, why did our perfect resurrected Lord have these scars?  He tells us in the above verses, so that others “did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.”  His scars are not blemishes as we may mortally view them because those scars only add to the testimony of His identity.  He is perfect and unblemished, scars and all, because those scars magnify the testimony of His love for us and His ability to save us.

The Holy Ghost taught me that like the prints on Christ’s hands and the wound in His side my mistakes and imperfections, healed by the atonement of Jesus Christ, are not blemishes, but they enhance my ability to testify of Christ.  If I did not have them, if I did not have personal experience having my wounds healed through the atonement, my ability to testify of Christ would not be as strong.  There are times that I will be asked to allow a multitude of people, sometimes even a vast multitude, to feel my scars, to thrust their hands into my side, in a very personal way, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.  (Romans 1:16)  But not only that, I am not ashamed of how I learned the gospel of Christ.  I am not ashamed of how I know, without a doubt, that the atonement works.

Sure, there are some who will see the spiritual scars I carry as blemishes and chances are they will be vocal in their judgement of them.  The temptation to feel bad about them and to hide them can be so strong, but I have made covenants and promised to take upon myself the name of Christ.  I have promised to do what is asked of me, and He asks nothing of me that He has not done Himself.  His wounds healed mine.  When He asks me to allow others to get up close and personal with my scars He is not asking me to focus on how I got the wounds, but how Christ healed them, and can heal yours.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

(Mosiah 14:5)


Be Who You Really Are


I’ve noticed a trend in people I admire and want to be like.  The most common thread between them is that they know who they are, and live that way whole heartily.  They have complete integrity in their actions.  That consistency is what makes their example so powerful.  No matter where they are, or who they are with, they are true to who they are.

Sometimes it is easy to think that it takes an insane amount of courage to be ourselves, or that it takes some special talent, but really we are all capable of being ourselves if we focus on how little truly affects us eternally other than our own choices.


The temptation to let things that have happened to us guide our actions can be very strong.  We have all had things happen that affect us, whether we wanted them to or not.  People around us sin and their choices have consequences that affect us (click here for more); or there are gaps in our education, whether secular or spiritual, that we want to blame our choices on; or there are people who want to keep us in boxes or categories.  When we think that others have more influence over us than they really do is when things get muddled.  The bottom line is no one, NO ONE, other than yourself and Jesus Christ have any bearing on YOUR eternal salvation.  (Click here to read more.)

Parents didn’t teach you something you were supposed to know or were (in your mind, or in reality) completely terrible to you?  Okay, be willing to learn it now, and the atonement will cover the rest.  Someone close to you has sinned and the consequences are difficult to bear?  Be steady and as righteous as you can be, and their choices will have no effect on your opportunity for exaltation.  We could go on and on, but the bottom line is Heavenly Father respects our agency so much that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ nothing has bearing on your opportunity for exaltation other than your own choices.   You will not be judged on what you had no control over, only on the choices you made. Isn’t that awesome?

Knowing this, the imitation that Satan puts out there to “be you you really are” as a means to justify sins of all types and sizes makes so much sense.  He is in essence trying to convince us that because you came to earth with these weaknesses, or they have been developed since for reasons that are out of your control, it is who you are going to be forever, so don’t bother fighting it.  Who you really are is a being that with the help of Jesus Christ is capable of achieving eternal glory.  There is not a single person put on this earth who is not capable of that.  Sins and weaknesses will not be a part of our exalted eternal being.  I’m not saying it’s easy to overcome these things, just that these things are not an excuse to settle for less than exaltation.  Just because they seem bigger than our abilities now doesn’t mean that they will be like that forever.  The atonement of Jesus Christ is truly infinite, it is capable of, and will, cover our every need eternally if we do our best and believe in Him.

The scriptures are absolutely filled to the brim of people who know who they are and recognize that no one else has power to make choices for them.  The stories of Daniel and the lions den; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the furnace; Nephi; 2,000 stripling warriors; Esther; Moroni; and so many others are all examples of this.  We often talk about their faith in Christ, but we don’t often talk about what that does for their individual worth.  That faith leads to the knowledge that the natural man consequences of righteous choices have no being on their eternal glory.  That knowledge and faith gives them the confidence to both life for and die for their testimony of Christ.

A very interesting thing happens as we continue on the journey to discover and be true to our eternal selves:  Our will becomes swallowed up in the will of the Savior, whose will has been swallowed up by the will of God.

Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.

Mosiah 15:7

We begin to realize that we have a desire to become who Jesus Christ wants us to become, because we recognize He wants us to become is our very best selves and we have faith in His power, sight, and ability to make that happen and we humbly are willing to listen to His counsel and advice on how to achieve His plan for us.

We are who we really are when we look in our spiritual mirror and see Him.

Take My Yoke Upon You

IMG_1657 My husband is an avid road cyclist and as a result I have spent a lot of time watching bike races, of both the broadcast and the live variety.  Likewise, I have spent a significant amount of time listening (note:  I said listening, not necessarily understanding) to him research all the equipment, and there is a lot of equipment.  

One of the pieces of equipment that has been the most discussed in our household (due to the difficulty of finding shoes that fit his feet well) has been cycling shoes.  Cycling shoes have very stiff soles and cleats that hook click into the pedals for maximum power transfer from foot to pedal.  The stiffer the sole, the less energy gets wasted as you punch down on the pedal and therefore the more energy being directed to moving you forward, fast.  Road bike frames are also usually quite stiff for the same reason (I recognize there are a few schools of thought on this).  The bottom line is unlike most of us, who like some degree of comfort when we head out on a ride, a racing road cyclist is willing to sacrifice comfort in the pursuit of speed.  Though I will say a well fitted road bike is more comfortable than you’d think. 

In Relief Society a few weeks ago we were discussing Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

trek-west-82836-galleryIn the ensuing discussion we talked about what a yoke was made out of.  Yokes are carved from a single beam of wood fitted to an ox’s shoulders.  I knew what a yoke was made out of, it wasn’t surprising, but for some reason the makeup of the yoke really struck me and reminded me of the purpose of cycling shoes.  Yokes are not made of rope, or leather, or anything supple, but of stiff wood to maximize power transfer.

What is the yoke of Christ?  We put on his yoke when we keep His commandments through our willing obedience, and in companionship with Christ we work to accomplish His purposes.

Heavenly Father is not in the business of giving us busy work to occupy our mortal lives.  His plan is to provide us with the most efficient and effective way to return to, and become like, Him.  That means our mortal lives include difficult trials and afflictions to teach us a lot in a short amount of time, appropriate but sometimes painful consequences to sin, and of course stiff and powerful commandments.

It is so tempting to think of the commandments as restrictive, however obedience to the commandments does not limit us, instead our obedience to the commandments maximizes our efforts into power to move us forward in the most efficient way possible.

I am not a perfect being, my obedience ebbs and flows, but I know that as I become more exact in obedience the power of the atonement infuses into my soul.  It fills my every breath and action.  It strips away the natural man and more fully reveals to me my divine and eternal nature.  In those moments, I know I can successfully return Home.

Eternal Success

This is a post I’ve hesitated to write for a long time.  I have a very traditional view of these things, and I fully recognize that it’s going rub some people the wrong way.  Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this post I want to clarify two important points:

  1. This is not intended in any way to be a commentary on the choices of others, it is merely a reflection of my own choices and the temptations that have come along the way.
  2. I fully recognize that I am extraordinary blessed in this area and recognize that not everyone has the same opportunities and I do not desire to add any guilt or pain to those who yearn for things they don’t yet have. 

Thanks to the fish bowl of social media I find it fascinating to observe how people strive for success.  Because we are all individuals, and there for have distinct talents, capabilities and goals, what success means to a person can be a huge spectrum.  It has lead me to ponder what kind of success I am striving for and what kind of success the Lord desires for me.

By many secular scales, I am failing miserably at success.  I have no job, my traditional education is pitiful (though I fully admit that it is mostly due to my lack of dedication to such, specifically as a high school student, to which I have grown to be sincerely regretful about and may someday work up the gumption to to do something about it), I certainly have nothing in terms of a career, I have no productive hobbies, and produce no income.  But what of eternal success?  What does that look like?  What kinds of things should I be doing now to achieve eternal success?

I have come to realize that although it’s that I completely lack any sort of temporal success, and I have also come to realize that I am blessed to be able to have a different focus on success, that of eternal success.  Success, and therefore happiness we search for, is indeed found most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ.

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

The Family:  A Proclamation to the World

My wonderful, blissful, life is made possible because my husband is so fully fulfilling his role as someone who is providing the necessities of life and protection for our family.  Because of him we have a home, we have food, we have cars to drive, we have adventures, and maybe most importantly I have a little space heater to sit next to when I’m cold (which, by the way, is ALL THE TIME).  Because we have all of that, because all of my temporal needs (not wants, needs, though we certainly have lots of wants included) are provided for I am able to spend my days concerned about more important things.  The things of eternity.  I have come to realize that the biggest blessing that I have as a stay at home mom is the that it frees me up to spend more time dealing with those things of eternal importance.  I have the flexibility of schedule to carve out time to study, to pray, to worship, and to serve, and most importantly to teach all of that to our children in both words and by example in far greater quantities than my husband is able to.  His temporal providing, makes it possible for me to help provide spiritually, and my providing spiritually makes it easier for him to carry the weight of his temporal providing. Both of these kinds of providing are required to achieve balance in the family.


What does all this have to do with success?  In the recent Face2Face event featuring Elder Holland, he mentioned that the only organization that we know of as being eternal is the organization of family.  No wards, stakes, governments, or social groups have that same reach as that of families.  It is the only organization with eternity on the line, and we need to prioritize it as such.  In the end, in the words of President David O. McKay “no other success can compensate for failure in the home”  (Quoted from J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization (1924), 42; in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116.)

Let me clarify that success in the home does not necessarily mean everyone in your will follow the path taught, only that the opportunity for eternal life and responsibility for choice is taught and modeled to the best of our abilities.

If there is one thing that I can guarantee, it is that any thing that has eternal importance comes with strong temptations.  Now that my kids are in school full time I have been shocked at how strong the temptations are.  Two of the biggest are intertwined so tightly that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins, but one is the temptation that what I do isn’t important and the other is to think now that my kids don’t stay at home anymore I don’t need to either.  I had one specific incident when I noticed that a secretarial position at my kids elementary school was open.  If there is a perfect job, that would have been it.  Work when they work, but home when they’re home.  I had filled out all of the applications, and was seconds away from hitting that submit button when I was overcome with the feeling that it was a huge mistake.  The many words of the prophets and apostles concerning the importance of stay at home mom’s came to mind, and none of them, not one, has a footnote that says anything like “It’s okay to work as long as you work at your kids school and are home when they are home.”  Or “It’s okay to work if it means that you can give your kids other opportunities or extracurricular activities, or go on more vacations, or buy a lake house.”  They all say that my role is different and distinct.  And they don’t pull punches about it either:

  • Many divorces can be traced to the day the wife left home for the workforce. (Spencer W. Kimball)

  • No career approaches the importance of wife, homemaker, and mother.  (Spencer W. Kimball)

  • Husbands who for selfish reasons encourage their wives to work outside the home hamper their own spiritual progress.  (Howard W. Hunter)

  • Mothers who work should be sure that it is to provide for necessities.  (Gordon B. Hinckley)

(Source for all of the above bullet points: Mothers’ Employment outside the Home, Building An Eternal Marraige Teacher Maunal, 2003, 58-61)

  • Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and unembarrassed help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait.  (Spencer W. Kimball)
  • The husband is expected to support his family and only in an emergency should a wife secure outside employment. Her place is in the home, to build the home into a heaven of delight  (Spencer W. Kimball)
  • We urge the husband to do all in his power to allow his wife to remain in the home caring for the children while he continues to provide for his family the best he can, even though the job he is able to secure may not be ideal and family budgeting may have to be tighter.  (Ezra Taft Benson)

  • Beguiling voices in the world cry out for ‘alternative life-styles’ for women. They maintain that some women are better suited for careers than for marriage and motherhood.  These individuals spread their discontent by the propaganda that there are more exciting and self-fulfilling roles for women than homemaking….Mothers should remember that their children usually need more of mother than of money.  (Ezra Taft Benson)
  • Now to others who work when it is not necessary and who, while doing so, leave children to the care of those who often are only poor substitutes, I offer a word of caution. Do not follow a practice which will bring you later regret. If the purpose of your daily employment is simply to get money for a boat or a fancy automobile or some other desirable but unnecessary thing, and in the process you lose the companionship of your children and the opportunity to rear them, you may find that you have lost the substance while grasping at the shadow.  (Gordon B. Hinckley)

(Source for all the above bullet points: Mothers’ Employment Outside the Home, Eternal Marriage Student Manual, 2003, 237-240)

Side Note:  I would completely recommend reading in entirety both of the sources linked above.  Treasure troves!

I have noticed that as my kids grow, their problems grow with them, and my spiritual stamina needs to increase with them.  I wish I could say that I was completely engaged in that task while the kids are at school, but I have plenty of Netflix binges “while I’m folding laundry” and other major time wasters.  (I have to put the folding laundry in air quotes because even if that’s the original intent, that doesn’t always be what is executed.  I am by nature a lazy person, though I like to pretend and call myself efficient instead.)  I have found that my time will fill up no matter what, but as I ask the Lord how He would have me fill my time it is inevitably filled with things of much greater worth and opportunity than I could come up with, or even have drive for, on my own.  His strength gives me the ability to keep my focus on, and recognize the importance of, the things of eternity when the things of right now are so loud and crowded.

Although, as stated above, my success is temporally pathetic, I recognize that my contribution to my family as a stay at home mom is geared towards greater eternal success.  It is frustrating to see people go on vacations, live in houses, drive cars, or do activities that we just plain can’t afford.  Although it’s easier now than it was when my husband was right out of college, it is never an easy thing to be a single income family in a double income economy.  Reassurance comes as I recognize that when I am fulfilling my divine role, I will not lack things of eternal importance (though things may become physically uncomfortable).  In Doctrine and Covenants Section 25 I love this admonition to Emma Smith that sums up the role of women:

And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

We are entrusted with a task that requires vision beyond the moment, beyond the sleepless nights, the difficulty of whatever raising kids looks like in that moment, and asked to recognize the eternal nature of our responsibilities.  Interestingly enough the section before D&C 24:9 Emma’s husband Joseph is also told he would not have strength in temporal labors because it is not his calling.  They were asked to fully rely on the Lord.  I don’t think Joseph and Emma could ever be considered well off temporally in any sense of the word, they hardly ever even had a home of their own, but they sure always had just enough to survive.  Of course, spiritually they were so incredibly blessed it’s hard to fathom.  Though the Lord differs in the level of prosperity he blesses people with, those who trust in him and follow his commands always have enough, maybe not even a grain of rice extra, but enough.

As both my husband and I do our imperfect best to serve the Lord by fulfilling our divine roles, and with the grace of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we will be eternally successful and blessed with the power that striving for such entails.