I started watching for angels six years ago. It was a dreary winter afternoon in Oregon. For several weeks each day had been more soggy and overcast than the one before, and each consecutive night lasted a little longer. I was pregnant, and dragged heavily through my days as if my home were lined with the same mud that clogged our sidewalk and yard. On this particular day I was especially exhausted by the energy of my two preschoolers, on whom the oppressive weather seemed to have exactly the opposite effect.
Frustrated with my own irritability, I retreated to my room for some spiritual nourishment. But as I opened the Sunday School manual and began to read, I found myself more and more discouraged. When I read the words of one prophet describing his mother as an “Angel Mother” I finally lost it completely and burst into tears. How could I possibly compare to the pioneer heroines in the manual, I wondered? My own life seemed easy in comparison to the trials I read about in the lives of the early Saints, and yet I still found myself coming up short on a daily basis.
I knelt and poured my heart out to the Lord. Some time later I looked up to see the cheerful face of my three-year old daughter smiling at me. “Guess what, Mom?” she chirped. “I made you something!”
“Thanks, sweetie,” I said, trying to summon up some enthusiasm despite my interrupted prayer and generally negative outlook. “What is it?”
She held up a pink headband with a white foam circle taped to the top. “See? It’s an angel hat, because you are my Angel Mother.”
In the days and years since then I have often had days when I didn’t feel very angelic, and it has been a comfort to me to understand that to the Lord my efforts are still valuable. But the experience had another effect for me as well. I began to look around and to wonder about all the other angelic women surrounding me. I had only recently returned to Church activity after spending my adolescence and young adult years away from the fold. I often felt intimidated by the gospel knowledge, homemaking skills, and general goodness of Latter Day Saint women. Could it be that they also felt overwhelmed and less than capable at times? That they also struggled to recognize the value of their contributions? When I realized that the answer was “Yes,” I strengthened my resolve to appreciate—and express my appreciation for– the greatness of the women around me.
So many of my current interests and skills are gifts that have come through my association with powerful women. Heather taught me to make homemade bread, which I now do regularly, (6 loaves of bread a week, to be exact, along with homemade pancakes, waffles, and pizza crust). Felicia gave me the vision (and a lot of practical tips) about what I could do as a homeschooler. Kristy taught brought herbs for my sick family and inspired me to learn about natural healing. Kathy raised my expectations for what I could do as a writer and editor.
Perhaps even more powerful are the women who have simply loved me, in large and small ways that have left a lasting imprint: Lana, who met me as a mixed up new age spiritualist and helped love me back to the gospel. Kimberly, who always invited my large crazy family to her home. Cara Mia who eased our transition to a new home in a new state. All of them and many, many more are my angels.
This November I want to remember the wonderful women in my life. Tell me a story about one of the angels in your life. Why are you grateful for her?