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All Things in Wisdom and Order

By Catherine Arveseth

It’s a typical Wednesday morning. 5:45 AM. I turn off my alarm clock and sink back into the pillow. I want to sleep in. But I don’t. Still blinking against the bathroom light I put on my running clothes, rinse with mouthwash, then quietly step out the front door to meet my running friends.

 

Half way through our route, most the group peels off to head home for junior high carpool. My friend Laurie and I continue the full loop as the sky turns a pale blue. She asks about my husband’s work and before I know it I am talking about the exhaustion I’ve felt of late.

It is nothing new. With a deadline looming he’s been working late nights and weekends. And even with our three girls returning to school I can’t seem to find two minutes to rub together. I’ve been doing this routine for years, I tell her, but for some reason it isn’t getting easier.

I can’t remember all I said about the struggle of getting through the evening hours alone with five young kids. About managing the homework, refereeing arguments, trying to make a decent dinner, and doing dishes after 10 PM, followed by a Saturday with husband gone, then a Sunday where several additional hours outside the church block are consumed by his church calling.

I was talking about our marriage, about how it’s hard to stay connected when you simply don’t see enough of each other, when suddenly, I broke. Right there on Wander Lane. The female tear viaducts opened and I cried quick, breathless sobs. I squeaked out an apology and tried to pull myself together. But you know that moment? When you realize you’re hurting? When you unintentionally speak a truth you haven’t admitted? And the ache comes pouring out?

Laurie was the perfect voice of understanding and wisdom. She encouraged me to take some time for myself that day. She said, “When you’re that tired and empty, you have nothing to give to your family. I know. I’ve been there too.”

So that morning, after getting my girls off to school and starting laundry, I turned on a movie for my twin boys, sat down at the kitchen table and opened my scriptures. I read from the Book of Mormon. I wrote in my study journal. Then I pulled out my laptop and wrote something I’d been trying to finish for weeks.

It was just enough to reclaim myself, my sanity, and my relationship with God. And the result? I felt a renewed strength and desire to lovingly serve my family.

That night, Laurie showed up on my doorstep with chicken and rice. I opened the door, apron on, kids wildly running through the kitchen and climbing on counters, our taco dinner dishes still on the table. And just seeing her, knowing her own busy life, made me choke right up. She had tried to get to our house before dinnertime, but you know… life. She hugged me and said she just wanted me to know she was thinking about me, that she loved me, and wanted to help.

Her act of love was a real blessing. The following evening my husband and I had a wedding dinner to attend and her apricot chicken made for a delicious, easy to clean-up meal for our babysitters.

I share this story because it illustrates two women living (and needing) two different gospel principles. Service and Self-preservation. Ideally, our days should include both. But some days we are better equipped to give; we are open to it and inspired. Other days, we simply need to be filled.

In light of the new Mormon Message that is circulating, I feel a discussion of the latter might be worthwhile.

 

By the time I finished watching the nine-minute video I was in tears. Frustrated tears. I was crying out of devastation for this mother. I was tired and empty all over again like Wednesday morning. I was exhausted from vicariously living a day that nearly did her in. A day that looked too much like my own.

I think most of us see shadows of ourselves in her. We recognize her self-neglect, her inability to say no, and the fact that she is clearly overextending herself, to the point that she and her children are suffering.

I am an advocate for the spoken message of the video. Sacrifice is essential and selflessly doing for others is at the heart of gospel living. I believe this deeply. And I loved hearing President Hinckley’s voice. Of course he is right. We never know the full extent of our reach when we decide to serve.

But I am positive none of our church leaders would condone saying yes to so many things we have nothing left to give our most important stewardships, namely our children and spouses.

Melissa Dalton-Bradford, a good friend and fellow-writer, shared her response:

While I honor this woman’s generous heart and am moved by her efforts to serve, and while I’m happy the church I love with all my soul is trying to show a less than air-brushed portrait of womanhood, I’m worried that in leaning away from one unattainable ideal, this depiction ironically (and I hope inadvertently) sets up another equally dangerous model. The model is one of potential emotional ill health. I cringed when I saw a sister who is hurting deeply, is lonely, tired, and craving authentic connection and a sense of her personhood, but who denies all those realities by giving an automatic “yes” to every request made of her. What I also noted (and her 3 little children can’t help but see this) is that she was able to appease everyone with a quick smile and Herculean help, but her exasperation, exhaustion and even her outbursts of anger were directed only at her children. (We don’t know where the husband/ father is in this vignette; she’s wearing a wedding ring, so he might be deployed? Traveling? Doing medical rounds? Or had he just abandoned her? Surely his absence adds critical contours to the story.) In any event, this good woman’s behaviors are typical of those that precede/accompany depression. Depression is a concern among our LDS sisters. I would hope that this beautiful, faithful sister, if I knew her, would feel safe enough in my presence to look me right in the eyes and whisper, “I am barely holding on here. Can YOU help ME?” 

Melissa continues,

Any psychotherapist would see the trail of self-lies in this vignette. The claims of “I’m fine”, “I can do it”, “I didn’t have anything planned”, “I have no personal needs” are clearly less than honest. And what alarms me most is that three children are watching and absorbing this mother’s self-deception. Will they grow up thinking this is womanhood? That you say yes so many times you run your reserves utterly dry, neglecting not only your spiritual life line, but your connection to your most sacred stewardship, your own family.  Every last one of us has limited resources, including our time and our energy. As with material funds, they have to be budgeted. To constantly and consistently deny those limitations is to set ourselves up for “bankruptcy” or mental health issues. It is a delicate art to say “No” and to recognize healthy boundaries and to offer up oneself and one’s comfort in love to others. President Hinckley’s voice talks about the dangers of “doing too much”, a quantity vs. quality issue. What I hear is, “Do LESS with MORE focus.” That’s what I call magnifying our callings as women: not making them bigger —more harried or elaborate or frenetic—but applying a laser focus, close observation, and lots and lots of light.

Do less, with more focus. I love that.

While the video is a refreshing step up and out of the perfectionism we often see portrayed (who didn’t immediately identify with this mother’s messy life?), I wish it also modeled healthy behaviors for self-preservation.

Self-preservation is crucial. Why? Because a woman who is not adequately caring for herself cannot continue to adequately care for her family. It is not sustainable.

General leadership of the church have been telling us this for a while now:

From Sister Beck in 2007: “Mothers who know do less… These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all.”

From President Uchtdorf in 2010: “Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life. [Some] unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.”

From Elder Holland in 2013: “Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.”

This message also recurs in scripture.

Consider the Lord’s answer to Martha while she is cumbered about “much serving” and troubled over Mary. He tells her, “one thing is needful… and it shall not be taken away from her.” So she rests at his feet, and hears his word. (Luke 10: 41-42)

To Joseph in Kirtland he said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (DC 101:16).

And finally through His prophet King Benjamin He counseled us, “See that all these things are done in wisdom and order, for it is not requisite that a [woman] should run faster than [she] has strength. And again, it is expedient that [she] should be diligent, that thereby [she] might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27).

I am sensitive to this principle. Probably because I don’t live it  like I should. I scramble through too many days, attempting to run faster than I have strength. But after watching this video, I am determined to reign in, do less, and carve out more space for heavenly light.

I know service is key to understanding God’s character. It is its own beautiful form of healing. Paired with that, however, is the importance of recognizing when our well is dry. So we can fill it with living water, return to God’s word, and let his welcome arms of comfort give us rest.

What was your reaction to the new Mormon Message? How can we do less with more focus? How can we set healthy boundaries? Tell us how the principles of service and/or self-preservation have blessed your life.

About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

100 thoughts on “All Things in Wisdom and Order”

  1. Love to you, dear Catherine. Do less with more focus. It might be one of the greatest challenges! In an age that teases and screams for ever-increasing quantitative "productivity," I'll have to unlearn applauding myself and others for running on hyperdrive. But think: what would happen if we did do less, but did so more deliberately, with more focus, with stillness of soul? A revolution. I've observed that no great revelations (or personal spiritual revolutions) ever happened when a soul was harried.

    On a practical note, I'd love to see two changes. First, we can be more sensitive toward our sisters who are caring for children without the support of a partner. Widows, divorced mothers, those whose partners have deserted the family, or who are out-of-commission due to illness physical or mental, those whose husbands are deployed, who travel extensively, who are in the most time-consuming church callings––let's not saddle them with the heaviest service opportunities, and let's be careful in asking them for last- minute help.

    Second, the phrase, "Want something done? Ask the busiest person!!" should be struck entirely from our usage. Honestly, you want something done? Then ask someone who's not already scrambling. Please, just don't ask the woman in this video. Instead, ask her if she'd like a foot rub.

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  2. Thank you for this nuanced response, Catherine. I keep coming back to the Mary and Martha story when I think of this video as well. (Isn't it amazing how a handful of New Testament verses dealing with a woman's domestic life continues to apply 2,000 years later?) Martha, so exasperated that her sister isn't doing her womanly duty: pitching in and helping when help is called for. And the Savior's response: one thing is needful and it should never be taken from women. The tension in this story is so apparent, though. Somebody has to make the dinner and clean it up, right? And as the woman in this video advises her sister, "If you don't do it, then who will?" But I think the Mary and Martha experiences shows us that the answer to that question is complicated. Sometimes God DOES want us to say no. As Mormon women, we have to learn how to dwell in that contradiction better. Service is key, but so is learning and listening and resting and restoring. We need to listen when our spirit is telling us it's time to rest. Bring the new family a pizza. Go see your cousin. Laugh. Tell her about your crazy day. Restore yourself. It's more than okay–it's needful.

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  3. Thank you. I was very bothered by some aspects of this video, and I was also concerned that so many are saying that we're misinterpreting it if we don't only hear President Hinckley's message at the end. It feels like we too often have things interpreted for us, and then we're not supposed to disagree with that interpretation or even discuss it afterwards.

    I'd love to show this video in various Relief Societies without the voiceover from President Hinckley (but show everything else, including how the woman's actions benefited so many that day) and then have a discussion about it. That won't happen, but I'm glad to have spaces online where we can talk about, because the discussion is important.

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  4. I love what you said, Angela, about how we need to learn how to live with contradiction. I think this is key–there is no one right answer every time to this question. Sometimes we need to exercise self-care and sometimes we need to get out of ourselves to serve others. I've found that serving others can replenish my soul and restore me, except when it doesn't. As others have mentioned, slowing down, listening to the Spirit and those around me, and choosing more carefully the things I do are keys to feeling peaceful and fulfilled. Thank you for this lovely post Catherine.

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  5. Thank you for this, I completely agree! My Facebook feed was full of women raving over this video, and I just couldn't understand why. When I watched it, I felt very frustrated and sad. Sad that this woman feels like she has to say yes to everything that is asked of her. Sad that she is pretending she can do it all and that everything is fine. It's a dangerous way to live. When a video like this is made, it is obviously carefully thought out, scripted and reviewed. Why was it important to show this woman missing the one thing that would've brought her some joy? Why didn't they have her bring the uncooked casserole to the family, or better yet, calling for pizza? Not only did she miss out on giving herself a break, but she made a commitment to her cousin first, isn't that important too? Anyway, I agree, do less with more focus.

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  6. Jen, I didn't write about this in the post, but my sister was asked to preview the video by a friend of hers who is a public affairs rep for the church. Her response was largely negative. She couldn't get past the gaps. Like "where is the husband?" And "why not order pizza?" And "really? Her son wins the science fair?" So I know there were focus groups for the video and concerns were expressed. But maybe not enough of them? Which to me says too many of our women still see pushing ourselves to the point of total exhaustion and emptiness acceptable, particularly if it is in service for others. I would hope health professionals with experience in family relationships, communication, and mental illness are included in these focus groups. Seeking that kind of input would help church film teams create vignettes that model healthy and helpful behaviors to cope with real-life situations in a context of gospel living. Thanks for your comment. Yes, onward. In a desire to do less with more focus and inspiration.

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  7. When I first watched that video I HATED it. I could feel the stress building within me as I watched her go throughout her day. I related FAR too well to what she was going through–but NOT out of self-neglect–I think some days are just like this–we have days in which we are very good at balancing and taking care of our responsibilities so they do not morf out of control but then there are other days. I think having some of those other days in our busy lives is often par for the course. Yes it is important to make sure we don't get overwhelmed–but what ball are you going to let drop when the most demanding ones are your church calling, the needs of your children and your marriage? Sometimes we have no choice (if we want to maintain our families and marriages) but to continue. President Hinckley's voice at the end brought great solace and comfort to me. What I saw (at that point) was a woman doing the best she could on a difficult DAY and President Hinckley pointing out that perfection was not required, that her service as imperfect as it was that DAY was accepted. I too don't think President Hinckley was advocating we try and run empty on many of our days. There are times to say no to service when we are depleted but sometimes we have to say yes anyway. I think turning to Heavenly Father when things are tough is a way to be renewed–like you taking time to study the scriptures and write about what you learned.

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  8. Melissa, thank you again for giving voice here to the concern so many of us felt. I agree with you – similar to that talk by President Uchtdorf you listened to recently – we have to "unlearn applauding ourselves and others for running on hyperdrive." Yes, a revolution. Because you are so right. When I look at those people in history and my own life who are closest to God and doing it right, they are never harried. Or hurried. They have margins in their lives. They have somehow struck a balance of caring for themselves which enables them to care for others. And when you talk with them, they see you as the most important person at that moment. They have time for you. It's quite remarkable really. Something I too am trying to learn.

    With respect to your other suggestions, I say absolutely. 1 – More sensitivity is so important. 2 – In our Virginia ward we called the phrase "Ask the busiest person" STP. Same Ten People. We tried to avoid asking the Same Ten People to do everything. Because of course they would say yes. And they would usually get it done beautifully. But if we continued to ask them there was risk for burnout, and it didn't avail others to step forward and grow in new opportunities for service.

    So many thanks again with your help on this piece. For your compassionate outreach to sisters everywhere. I love you.

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  9. Angela, obviously this discussion is still very alive in my heart because I am in tears reading your comment. Yes, the fact that the Lord's interaction with Mary and Martha ages ago still speaks to us is nothing short of miraculous. I am so grateful for his stories and his word. You allude to the need for balance in service and self-care. Because right – someone had to make the dinner, someone had to clean up, and at my house someone has to make the school lunches and keep the laundry moving. I think you found the solution in the word "listen." We can learn to listen to our spirit, which I believe reflects messages from The Spirit. God will tell us what "that needful thing" is. Love you Angela.

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  10. Amira, thank you for commenting here. I think we can embrace President Hinckley's words because they are absolutely true. While still seeing room for increased wisdom and order in the life context the film portrayed. I don't think it has to be either/or. Which is why I hoped to write about it here in a tone that is supportive of the spoken message in the video while trying to find a gospel solution for the unspoken message. Thank you for being honest here and for sharing your thoughts. Much love.

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  11. Well said. I don't find my ward or RS sisters asking me to do service that would overextend me at this point in my life. They are so sensitive and good. They know I am overwhelmed enough days just trying to take care of my family and there will be a season when I can help more, do more. But yes, sometimes we feel we are "wasting and wearing out our lives" simply tending to our most important stewardships. Even then, as you say, it is wise to listen to our spirits and know when we need a recharge, a step-back even from our care-giving, so we can return with more love. Blessings as you keep on in your sacred duties, which I know are many. xo

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  12. the main impression that i got after watching the message was that we need to be smarter about how we serve. you have errands to run and someone drops by with their child to ask for babysitting? take the kid on your errands with you. your sister needs to talk? can she do it on the phone? and for crying out loud, take over the uncooked casserole or order a pizza (it seems that many people picked up on this one).

    i was actually fine with her taking on all of the things that she did. maybe she felt impressed by the spirit to do them (something that's hard to portray on film). some days are like that. but i cringed when she gave up her time with her cousin. even if she couldn't figure out to take over an uncooked casserole, she should have called and asked what their favorite mcdonald's burger is as she drove through the drive-thru on the way to her house (can you tell this is where the message jumped the shark for me?). some things have to be sacred, and as you and so many women have pointed out, giving ourselves renewing experiences is one of them. it's important to have things that we can look forward to that restore our soul, and it seems like cousin night was one of those things for her. bookclub is mine, and my family knows that come hell or high water, i will be at bookclub every month because it makes me feel like me and nourishes me as an individual. not as a mom, or wife, or sister in the gospel, but as me.

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  13. You know when you have those little moments of clarity in life? They seem small and insignificant at the time but you look back and realize how important they really were? I remember a particularly frenzied day filled with all that comes with having 5 children under the age of 10, a busy calling and a serious headache. Overwhelmed would sufficiently describe my emotions on that day and it wasn't even half over. I got a call from our lovely Compassionate Service Leader, a woman I admired greatly. She asked if I could take a meal in to a family that night. She apologized for the late notice but she "just knew that I would say yes". There was silence on the phone as my desire to serve and my love for this family battled with my thoughts of all that needed to be done for my own. What would she think of me? And then I did it!…I told her 'no'..*gasp* I just knew that I could not do one more thing today. She very sincerely understood and said she had others she could call. After I hung up, I was expecting this guilty weight to fall over me. Instead, I felt relief and a very calming sense of "it's okay! You couldn't do it today, you'll be able to do it another day." Im sure I didn't get everything on my 'list' checked off that day but I did learn a valuable lesson for me. It is ok to say no. Not every time and not just because you don't feel like it. But it is ok to admit to yourself and to those who look up to you that you are not Superhuman. I say yes more often than not, but my relationships have become more honest and healthy since I had that little moment of clarity and came to terms with using the word no.

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  14. Within minutes of seeing this video for the first time last week, I wrote a similar post as this one, quoting much of the same. Read Neal A. Maxwell's talk in a 1994 Ensign entitled "Wisdom and Order." It's wonderful! Saying no is important.

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  15. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I actually really enjoyed the video, although 'enjoyed' may be a funny sort of description since it actually brought me to tears. You see I watched the video on a day when my life mirrored the life of the woman in video, and I'll admit that at some points of my day i said to myself 'I cannot do this' and 'someone else would do this better than me'. (I have five young children 7 and under, a busy husband working late nights and am finding my feet in a new country, whilst making do with what little we had until our shipment of furniture from home arrived yesterday) I felt so sorry for the woman in the video and so sorry for me! However, the ending of the video helped me put things into perspective. As the woman in the video reflected upon her day, I reflected upon mine and I realised that despite the mess of my day (and week), good things had still happened. If I hadn't had stopped to reflect upon them, they would have been lost. There were still things I wish had gone better, but there were other things that had gone well that i hadn't noticed before. So after watching the video, my internal commentary become 'I can do this' and 'maybe I'm not doing such a bad job after all'.

    I find it comforting that my hard days are understood and are familiar to others, but aren't the whole picture of me – and that even then, there is usually some good in those days if I take the time to look. I think the video has helped me to refocus on the most important things and relationships in my life and I'm happy to report that this week has already been so much better, as that pressure valve has been eased.

    On another note, I completely agree with your point about self care and have learnt the hard way that if i want to serve long and effectively, which I do, then I need to take a small amount of time regular to nourish my own soul. The woman in the video didn't quite get to that this day. I think this is what makes it so powerful. Her day wasn't perfect! There were mistakes made, it could have been better. Her disappointment was tangible. I recognise that feeling. Yet she tried her best and she, like you and I and all of us, are enough.

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  16. I actually took the cousin part a different way. To me I would have felt guilty for standing up someone who was waiting on me. Another failure of my day. The video was reassuring that even when things don't work out as you wanted (kids eating cereal for dinner, disappointing someone, etc.) it's okay, focus on the good you have done instead.

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  17. This is one of the best responses to the video that I've read! I expected a completely different message at the end of the video the first time I watched it.

    This is a bit off topic, but I also wish that as women of the church we would, along with learning to say no, learn to ask for help. I absolutely hate those stories of "my visiting teacher offered to clean my house/bring a meal/watch my kids and I said no but she did it anyway and it was just what I needed." The message I get from those stories is that I'm supposed to be a mind reader. Yes, it's so, so important to follow the Spirit in our service, to serve in a way that other people need and not just how we would like to serve; I've had wonderful experiences serving and being served in that way. But I think there's also a danger in expecting Heavenly Father to meet our needs through other people when we haven't done the work of asking for help ourselves. It takes just as much strength and courage to be humble and vulnerable in asking for help as it does to be the one meeting others' needs.

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  18. My dear Mindy, I love that you modeled perfectly here how we can kindly say no. You listened. And did it with the right spirit and intuition. See Melissa Bradford's comment up top for reasons why we shouldn't always ask the busiest people who "know will say yes." I wish I could have seen the woman who had time to make that meal and how it blessed her life too. Love you very much.

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  19. Kerri, I whole-heartedly agree with you. It was definitely a step closer to the realism we long for. And yes, our efforts, even when we are "worn out and worn through" (loved your words) are sanctified. I know this, have seen it. I see it in you. And in almost all the LDS women I know who are miraculous doing much more than I think is humanly capable. A testimony to the fact that they are being enabled, carried, and blessed by the Lord. Love you. Thanks for commenting.

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  20. Beautiful Heather. I hear you. And I understand so much of what you are saying having five children of my own in a short span of four years (but not moving to a new country! Oy!). I think many women felt encouraged just as you did by the message. I know the film-makers were going for an imperfect day. And it's good to remember, it was just one day in her life. Hopefully the next she was able to carve out time for herself, to recharge. 🙂 You illustrate in your comment how the Spirit can give each of us what we need through (or in spite of) a medium. And I love that. Wishing you all the best as you acclimate to a new life and care for those precious people that are yours.

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  21. Melanie, you make such a good point. That we should try to be in tune enough with our needs to 1 – know how someone could help us and 2 – not be afraid to ask. And when we or someone we know is really drowning, I hope it will be enough for us to simply say it: "I'm barely hanging on. I don't even know what I need. Can you help?"

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  22. Hi Cath,

    Another thank you for writing this. I've seen the video popping up everywhere, but I only watched it once because it made me so uncomfortable, but I didn't want to dive into my head and figure out why because I was afraid the answer was because I am selfish and not doing enough. From early in my mothering I've recognized that I have a limited capacity to handle all the things. If I say yes to everything, like I want to do, it all comes crashing down. I simply cannot watch every friend's child, chaperone every field trip, make every treat, sign up for every dinner, drive to friends to every doctors appointment etc. without losing it on my family.

    I see women who seem able to handle far more than I do with an abundance of grace and I have just come to realize God did not make me that way. I'm not saying I don't serve or that I say no to everything, I just try to be aware of my limits-what I can say yes to and still function well. And this video made me question that a little.

    I loved that when your friend said to take time for yourself you turned to our Heavenly Father to fill your well. I often try to replenish with a book and lunch by myself, worthy certainly, but probably not as effective in the long term.

    Also, I wanted to mention a concrete thing I did when I had young children and a husband doing his first years at a big law firm to protect myself from become stark raving, overextended, drop all the balls crazy. I found it hard to pick and choose what things to say yes to, so instead I picked a day to say no. My policy was to keep one day a week, say every Tuesday, where I committed to myself not to say yes to any outside the family things. So I wouldn't make any doctor appointments for Tuesday, I wouldn't sign up to help in classroom on Tuesday, I wouldn't have the Sister Missionaries for dinner on Tuesday…you get the idea. I protected that day like the calendar was full already. And it really helped.

    Thanks again lovely lady! You are amazing to me in your thoughtfulness and insightfulness.

    Love,
    Shelley

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  23. I felt such frustration watching this video. It seemed to emphasize a message I think women (especially LDS women) hear too much – that motherhood is martyrdom. Also, I can't imagine the church making a video like this for men, with a female leader's voice offering council at the end. I appreciate your thoughtful, charitable take on this video. I just tire of seeing these same messages for women, emphasizing how I'm doing enough just making through the day, overwhelmed by a million responsibilities, often made heavier because of rigidly defined gender roles. This video is, of course, just aimed at mothers who stay home. Take that narrow audience and you still have a diverse group of women to address. What about those of who ache to balance things besides casseroles, supporting our husband' s callings, and doing visiting teaching? What about challenging women to be part of a bigger picture? What about not feeling guilty for extending our reach and our ministry beyond our families and our ward? What about not needing special messages for overburdened LDS women because our church life is not so defined by our gender? I want the church to stop patting me on the head and telling me how cherished I am and how my efforts are enough. Show me you see me as a whole person, an individual with unique talents, a disciple of Christ with a purpose beyond motherhood (the message my husband receives about leadership, discipleship, and fatherhood).

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  24. Catherine, this is so beautiful! I tell you all the time what a gift you have with words, and the rest of us are blessed for it. Thank you for articulating this so well. You nailed it right on the head. It adds such a good dimension to the post I was telling you about (http://www.stephaniehock.com/blog/2014/9/21/negative-space) about the beauty of negative space. Clearing content so our focal points are the subjects that matter. Less is beautifully more. I love this so much. Thank you for writing it.

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  25. From my response, it was super charitable! I'm so glad you quoted our beloved, and completely correct, Melissa. Great, great response, thank you. I felt so… Disquieted about the video.

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  26. I don't know. Personally I appreciate the acknowledgment by the Church that what I am doing is incredibly challenging and important and that it requires extreme finesse and skill. (Most of the world hardly knows I am here, let alone acknowledges that what I am doing has any value.) The LAST thing I need is more guilt or anything more added to my plate for the sake of "the bigger picture." I do have (and am sometimes overwhelmed by) a million responsibilities–it is part and parcel of what I chose when I chose to have a family, and most of the time I handle it extremely well. What is more important and lasting that well-done motherhood?

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  27. I don't think I have words to articulate how beautifully written this article is. Like you my husband is gone a lot and at 4 p.m. all hell breaks loose, every. single. day. 🙂 I have no doubt that you would agree that you are grateful your husband is employed and not doing things that you worry about while he is gone but dang it does not make it any easier at home. Im inspired by you so thank you.

    Funny side note, the cute girl in that video is a friend and has 3 little boys and I am telling you she is the neatest. And I chuckled a little bit because the message rang so incredibly true but I have never seen this sweet friend get frazzled about anything. I have no doubt she has her days but she is one of the most naturally happy women I have ever met. She is a super great actress 😉 . Anyways, thank you again, I can relate to everything you write about!

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  28. I SSSOO want to read all the comments, but don't have time right now. I just quickly wanted to share the thought that has been foremost in my mind with regards to the new video. At the end of the video, the boy in his prayer says something like 'Thank you for helping us get done everything you needed us to.' For me, that is the message that I will take with me. I need to be more in tune with the spirit to find what the Lord wants and needs me to accomplish that day. On days where I do that, I'm filled with what I need. I saw a quote a while ago that said, "If you do something out of duty, it will deplete you, but if you do something out of love it will fill you." Why do we always look at serving as a lack of self care? Why can't service be a form of self care? I think lots of times it is for me. 🙂 Can't wait to come back and read the rest of the comments!

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  29. I felt so negated by this video. The holes in it seemed to lash at me. The quote is so true, yet so incongruous to what I had seen prior to it playing! All I had seen was a woman who, in order to bring Good and God's will into her life, allowed everyone else to step on her, to the extent that she was empty, but she was supposed to be refilled by the knowledge she had done what He wanted for her… when clearly, she needed a Google calendar with reminders, decent boundaries and the ability to help without giving up her ability to use the small time she had prepared for herself. I saw a need for psychotherapy, because she felt her own family and goals were worth so little, that there was no other person that could babysit, help, or bring dinner that day. That her family relationships with her children and cousin were of less value than the ten minutes it would take to find a sitter, or talk on the phone instead of in person that day, or allow her son to have natural consequences for his procrastination, or phone around for another sitter.

    It can be easily misconstrued in the gospel that to bear one another's burdens means that if we don't give up all the quiet spaces, the meditational times, and if we don't serve until we are continually in physical and emotional pain, then we are being bad women and bad sisters. This causes, in my experience with friends both in and out of the Utah corridor, vast quantities of guilt and depression. Let someone who is not going out to, basically, a mini family reunion, volunteer to cook dinner that night for the new baby. There are other people and other nights. Let's set aside the lack of realism…Do people really walk door to door with their children looking for a sitter in Utah? Win science fairs with computer printed tesearchstuff? If we need sitters, Here in SC, we ask on Facebook. It works beautifully. Science fairs involve huge experiments. If you wait, and have a book report research project but no experiment? Nope.

    For me, my frustration and anger built because of the unrealistic expectations this sister put on herself. She didn't have to save the whole world. There's got to be at least a hundred other sisters in her ward. There were options, at least for trading days. I got physically nauseated that we were claiming that because she enabled everyone, all day long, she was doing what Heavenly Father wanted today. Except, she wasn't, she was doing what people wanted, _how_ they wanted, all day long. She gave in at every turn, to her kids, to her friends, sister, everyone. At no time did she demure, or help them find an alternative solution. She disappoints the one person she had actual responsibility to besides her children, her cousin, and not even with respect… She just keeps saying, "no, I'm on my way," until she can't postpone anymore.

    It is a great, true quote. But my worry is that sisters in the gospel will think the Video is True, not the quote. The quote is true. The video is awful, and, I think, damaging to all of us who work very hard daily to complete everything we can, dedicate ourselves to Him, and who realize we cannot continue to healthily serve from an empty bucket.

    And I'm so glad you wrote this and not me, especially not last week. I have so many friends who fall constantly in this trap, in the guise of being a virtuous woman. I've fallen into it. We all have. It's time to stop holding it up add the ideal, though, especially, when we actually look at it, when that's not what we actually believe as doctrine!

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  30. I have a little different perspective since I am on the other side of the fence now. All 4 of my sons are grown and have families of their own. My youngest son and his wife and 2 toddlers just flew home after having spent 11 days with us. I think I had forgotten how much WORK and STRESS is involved in caring for a 1 and 3 year old. We would hear the kids take turns crying in the night, their parents trying to get them to go back to sleep, the 3 year old throwing up at midnight (they say he throws up twice a week), very needy and teething 1 year old, trying to get them to eat, toys and crumb trails, very tired parents, my son getting up at 6am so he could get 3 hours of studying before he worked 8 hours (his company allows him to work from where ever he is), constant noise and interruptions by 2 very healthy little boys…..and on and on it goes!

    Then I watched the video and I sobbed. It was Hinckley's voice and words that impressed me the most. I turned to my sweet daughter in law and son and told them how proud I was of them. How hard I see them working to raise their children right. How they have their priorities in the correct order. (One night I watched them read a scripture to the boys and say prayers with them while the kids were in the bathtub!)

    I was particularly impressed how President Hinckley said we may never know the good we do. All the little things they do for their children and their family. I thought back to the days I was doing what they are doing now. How perhaps I didn't get it then just how powerful and meaningful my days were.

    I've also this past week been reading the book, “This is How We Grow” by Christine Hibbert. It's a memoir of loss and motherhood. The author's sister and brother in law die, and she and her husband get custody of their 2 nephews, along with the 4 they already have. It's in detail the depths of struggle they go through to make this new life of 6 kids work.

    Page 302 she writes, “…comfort is overrated. If we choose to grow, we choose discomfort. Growth is after all, by definition, an uncomfortable stretching to something greater.”

    I see now how that works. I understand better looking back. The hard years are GOOD years.

    (Having said all that, I do think the video would have been better depicting a week, rather than a day. All that outside service all in one day, with 3 young children, was a bit over the top. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, "A Heart Like His" by Virginia Pearce. She taught me to fit service into my everyday life….instead of thinking in big chunks of time we may not have, like making dinner and taking someone to lunch. Sometimes we can be most helpful by taking a few minutes to listen and feel another's joy or pain.)

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  31. "What is more important and lasting than well done motherhood?" I would ask 2 things. 1. "What is more important and lasting than well done fatherhood or, better yet, parenthood?" Perhaps if we focused less on the home being the 1950s domain of womanhood, we could return back to some of the incredible pre correlation history of RS, with women giving blessings and the RS looking far beyond their homes and ward. I love motherhood, but why is my home life shown as so demanding, it's all I can handle, but my husband somehow manages to be a father, work, and hold priesthood duties without a special video lauding his sacrifice? Perhaps the big picture isn't for some and that is ok, but it's time to allow LDS women (and men) outside of a gendered box that isn't right for everyone.

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  32. Here's the link to the talk:
    https://www.lds.org/ensign/1994/06/wisdom-and-order?lang=eng

    A couple of my favorite excerpts are:

    On my office wall is a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: 'My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds."

    We can all try to watch out for Martha-like anxiety, which is genderless. It can also deprive us of special experiences if we are too “cumbered about much serving.” Conscientiousness is not an automatic guarantee that we will choose the “good part” which will not be “taken away” from us (Luke 10:38–42).

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  33. I'm so glad to see a post about this message. When I first watched the vignette, I almost cried because I felt like she was living my life. Only I have no friend or cousin to be seeing me on a layover. I wouldn't have been looking forward to a girl's night out because I have no one to do that with and rarely ever have throughout my life. I too was disappointed with the ending. I love President Hinckley, and I love that quote, but not in the context of that video.

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  34. I think that is what a lot of people are taking away from this video. That it is noble and good to completely disregard our own needs in order to serve others.

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  35. I, too, felt such a sense of unease as I watched the video after seeing it shared for days on facebook as "so wonderful." I realized that while I appreciated the message given with President Hinckley's quote, I worried about the underlying messages. Particularly I worried that women, in accepting the obvious message of the video, would inadvertently internalize the underlying (and surely accidental) messages, especially the message that saying yes to every single thing asked of you was more important than planned time with a family member. Blow off a pedicure? Sure. But time with family? Please no.

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  36. I, too, struggled with the message of this video. I have beat myself up time and time again because I tend to see my service to my kids and family as separate from "serving others", and it seems like this video really drives that point home. I watch it and hear, "Yes, being a mother can sometimes drive you to an early death from the stress of it, but here is more that you should be doing on top of all of that." I struggle daily just to meet the needs of my own family, let alone my own needs, but I still feel like it is not enough. I sometimes wonder how I will ever be able to keep my head above water. It is so hard to balance the demands put on me, when there is not one single thing that I can say no to or put off for another day. And those demands don't include church callings or other service opportunities outside of the church. I have found myself feeling resentful more and more because of so much business that has nothing to do with the actual gospel of Christ. And then I am made to feel so much guilt for just not having enough faith, or not giving enough of myself. I feel like it is never OK to say no. We are told not to run faster than we have strength, then in the next breath we hear that we need to be willing to give up our own lives for the gospel. Does that mean we need to be willing to run ourselves into the ground in service?

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  37. Hi Catherine! Thank you for posting this. It sure has allowed for much discussion which is very good for us. I have journaled a little bit lately as I've been pondering the principle of friendship. I like what is said about a laser focus. Can I share what I wrote?

    Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy gave a talk called Friendship: A Gospel Principle. He said, “There is a particular challenge we face as Latter Day Saints in establishing and maintaining friendships. Because of our commitment to marriage, family, and the Church is so strong, we often feel challenged by constraints of time and energy in reaching out in friendship to others beyond that core group.”

    The other day I woke up wanting so badly to help a friend who I knew was struggling. I knew I needed to read my scriptures. I needed the Spirit.

    I remembered President Eyring speaking on Treasures we can find in inspired works. This was back in 2011 when he was giving a leadership training on HB 2. He said.

    “You can more easily treasure up what you hear or read today if it touches your heart. That could guide you as you listen or whenever you seek to learn from the handbooks (in this case the scriptures) or train others to use them well.

    You might read and listen with this question in your mind:
    “How might these words or that idea bless someone I love?”
    When you feel an answer to that question, you have added to the treasury from which the Lord will draw in the very hour when you need it to serve and to lead for Him.”

    I was led to this scripture. D&C 88:133 I read it to my friend. Now I want to read it to you.

    "Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and
    ever. Amen."

    I felt a great peace. I called my friend and was able to tenderly share that I was committed to living this Gospel. I knew I could not fix her pain, take away her heartache. But somehow I knew that having a friend that is present and there and committed to living the Gospel might be comforting. I told her how important it was for me to have friends with testimonies that shine through even through adversity. Hers does and it means alot to me.

    Then today I was led to a verse in a hymn. Lead Kindly Light.

    Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;
    Lead thou me on!
    The night is dark, and I am far from home;
    Lead thou me on!
    Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
    The distant scene–one step enough for me.

    Friends don't necessarily ask that you take away all the pain and suffering and fix everything…………just help them take the next step………one step is enough …………..we can do that.

    I agree. Less can definitely be more and much more effective when coupled with the Spirit directing.

    It is not easy to get out of the way and let the Spirit direct. When I am able I am never left wanting.

    Love you Catherine! You are a great friend to many and your children are beautiful and I love it when you take the time to write………you bless us all and WOW you felt better! Service brings blessings when we are using our gifts and talents and finding joy in the process!

    Jesus is coming! I am so excited!

    Love you! Liesa

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  38. I really appreciated your thoughts on this video. I felt like something was a little off, and you were able to put it into words!
    However, I do believe this video does one other thing very well, aside from actually showing a realistic side to a typical woman's life. And, perhaps it is the real reason for the church posting this video.
    In the church there is SO MUCH emphasis on the needs of the woman in the home. This emphasis needs to be there–especially with the rise of current feminist trends, but sometimes it is OVER-emphasized. What I mean is, women are supposed to do more than be "stay-at-home-moms." Women everywhere have the potential to not only serve at home, but outside of it as well. Your friend Laurie is a perfect example of looking outside of herself, and even her home, to serve.
    The woman in this video, you'll notice, was portrayed as doing most of her service outside of the home. Now, on a typical day that's simply not how it will be. But I think what the church might be getting at is that SOME days, that is how it should be. Because our kids need to see us serving other people too.
    Something I always say is that motherhood falls UNDER the role of womanhood, not the other way around. So while I completely agree that this video is not by any means a perfect representation of what our lives should be like, I think it is great that the church is recognizing the need for women to seek for service both in and OUT of the home. Because our kids and husbands need us, but we also need each other.

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  39. I noticed that too- that most of the things the woman did in the video weren't actually about her children. She was able to do a lot of good outside her family and I appreciated that.

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  40. I read your blog post last night before going to bed, and I liked it so much that I came back to read it again today…and noticed that it was you, Catherine, who wrote it! It made it all the better.

    You wonderfully articulated how I felt about the video. I was unsettled about it, especially when I had seen other women post it with excited messages, "Hit the nail on the head!" etc. I didn't want to be a downer but deep inside I did not agree.
    I, like you, loved Pres. Hinkley's words at the end, but wondered why they were attached to this video- where this woman had no boundaries, gave when she was empty…generally unhealthy behavior. I also wondered why the one commitment she had that day- to see her cousin- was the one one that got shoved to the wayside. Was it less of a commitment because it would bring her personal joy?
    Thank you again for writing this and for being so open and honest about your own feelings and your own life! You have done a wonderful service for me today.

    -Joy (fleming)

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  41. Melissa…. amen. Well said. I could not agree with you more.

    I hear that "Ask the busiest person, because then it will get done…" ALL. THE. TIME.

    Sure it will get done, but usually not without more stress, more frustration and more irritation.

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  42. Bless you dear lady. Your suggestion of keeping one day free, of making that sacred unoccupied time, resonated with me. Deeply. I can tell it's something I ought to do. Thank you for the suggestion. I love you.

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  43. I had an experience many years ago, while serving as Relief Society President and my husband was serving in the YSA Bishopric, that taught me that I needed to
    BE wherever I was. I realized that I was always focused on the next thing/chore/obligation/etc and I was rarely wherever I was. We had 3 children, the oldest being 13. I sat down and took an inventory of my life and where I was spending my time and gave my life some balance. My children still had many activities that I needed to get them to, but in the car we talked. My calling was still there, but I delegated more, a lot more. I did give up some activities and I was no longer the "go-to" mom and that was ok. I began to really BE wherever I was and I was able to focus on whoever I was with and whatever I was doing.

    I am currently teaching early morning seminary. I also work full-time. Even though all my children are grown and out of the home, most of the year. It is very taxing, both physically and spiritually. I don't substitute during the school year because I have learned that I need to have my batteries recharged on Sunday. I help out during the summer wherever I can but during the school year I have to say no.

    A scripture that I found this year while studying for a lesson has become one of my new favorites: Doctrine and Covenants 5:34
    "Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee."

    For me, sometimes just stopping and standing still and listening is exactly what I need and then I can go forward with what I need to do.

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  44. This is a beautiful and wise post, Catherine. Thank you.

    I really think that the fundamental problem here is the disconnect between the video and the voice-over message at the end. President Hinckley's words were beautiful and true, but they weren't the right words in this particular context because they didn't fit the content of the video.

    I think we are *supposed* to see the main character as the stereotypical overwhelmed Mormon mother who doesn't know how to say no (she can't even say no to her daughter who wants Lucky Charms instead of scrambled eggs for breakfast!), not as a laudable self-sacrificing woman who just doesn't recognize all the good she does in the world. I think the whole point is that she is so busy trying to do everything and please everyone that she is completely disengaged from the truly meaningful things in her life (notice her rote prayer in the morning and the lack of any real connection with her children throughout the whole day. She doesn't even say good-bye to them when they get out of the minivan for school and doesn't even think to ask her son about the Science Fair after school). I think we're *supposed* to wish that she could have claimed the time to see her cousin. All of the directorial decisions in the video point to this interpretation. The disconnect occurs when the voice-over starts. Again, that quote from President Hinckley is great and so, so true, but it doesn't fit this particular video clip. It's almost like the writers, actors, directors made the video with one purpose in mind and then someone on the production team scrambled to find a good quote to end it with. But they chose poorly. The President Hinckley quote would be wonderful for a different video, but this particular video called for something like this:

    "Many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all . . . .

    It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.” –Chieko Okazaki

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  45. Hi Cath, Thank you for writing this post, I too felt that something was a little off in the video, maybe that is part of the point of the video, that our good actions still have merit amidst chaos? But I think we all want less chaos, more order, peace, and happiness. What disturbed me most is how unhappy the woman in the message seems. It is important to nurture self so that we can nurture others. I am extremely grateful for your example of turning to the scriptures for nourishment. "where can I turn for peace?… He, only one". I have found again and again for that to be true, Christ is savior and friend.
    thank you for causing me to pause, think and resolve to do better, this mornig with my kids was much more peaceful and happy after reading this last night. Love to you.
    Emily

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  46. I think instead of changing the quote, there should have been a few revisions done in the video. It would have made more sense to me if this Mom were shown in wonderful engagement with her children while letting the house go (which she did, some) and maybe having to turn down some of the service requests from outside her home. It would have made more sense to me if her children were presented as clearly first, even though she couldn't do all the other things vying for her attention. To me the quote was perfect and SO needed to remind us women that what goes on INSIDE our homes is of the greatest value of all….and we may not know at the time, maybe not till years later, the actual good we have done. The days are long but the years are short. And poof, the kids are gone.

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  47. Right, Grandma Honey. A different video with the President Hinckley quote (so needed!) or that video with the Sister Okazaki quote (or one like it).

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  48. And Melissa, if you are out there! Where are you writing? I miss reading you. I tried to find you online to read your full response to the video. Are the excerpts Cath used from an article? I would love to read your writing if you are open to that right now. Thank you for sharing your talent. I met you briefly on your book tour in Salt Lake City, and would love to continue my cyber friendship with you and your words:)

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  49. Emily dear, I should have included this in the original post. Here is Melissa's personal blog: http://melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com. I'm going to back right now to insert a live link at her name. Her excerpts were from a staff discussion we had of the video. Then she and I exchanged emails and thoughts to get the tenor of this post as supportive and non-critcial as possible, while still exploring the additional truth of self-care. So glad you had a more peaceful morning. My days have been better too since all this writing and discussion. xoxo

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  50. This video also had me in tears, practically sobbing by the end. My life had been on fast forward for so long, and I was gasping for air, trying to keep up. Finally this summer I broke. The depression I was trying to hold at bay finally took over, and I spent weeks in bed, letting my kids watch hours and hours of tv, and letting my fantastic husband take over. I could hardly function, but still made it to church and put on that happy smile. When I was asked to be the 1st counselor in the Primary, my head was screaming "NO!!" You cannot handle this right now!" but being a good mormon woman, I said "Yes." The following weeks seemed to find me deeper and deeper into depression, as the countless meetings and responsibilities were given to me. After 4 weeks, I realized that I was neglecting my family, I was barely functioning, and I needed help. I met with my Bishop with the intent to ask for counsel and help to do my calling. After telling him some of what I was struggling with, this inspired Bishop extended a release of the calling. It was so hard to accept that, because "good mormon women" don't say no to callings and don't ask to be released. But he knew, and could see that I needed to take care of me. What he said to me was so profound: Good mormon women need to remember to take care of themselves and their families, first and foremost. The Lord understands that we want to do everything for everyone, but also knows our limitations. I saw in this video a women who had put herself last in so many ways, and saw her crashing to what I had felt during the summer – the impending depression that comes when we don't take time for self-care. I'm grateful for your post, and that I wasn't the only one that felt that way. I know that I'm not the only LDS woman struggling under the staggering list of "should-do's" that we put on ourselves. I wish there was more of an effort to encourage self-care, especially from the men of the church, who sometimes don't understand what their wives need. We need to be supporting each other more, and encouraging each other to do less, as Sister Beck counseled.

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  51. Loved this post Catherine. My main take away from the video is that I've been there too many times, and I don't like being there. I am happy to give service, but I don't feel the joy of it if it leaves me, at the end of the day, short tempered with my kids. They are most important. The film should have had her take over the unbaked casserole, had the brief visit with her cousin, and then back home rejuvinated by that small break, then happily reading a bedtime story to her kids with a calm heart that could feel the JOY of what she'd done that day. That's the big trick in life for me – the fight for Joy as Ann Voskamp says. I need to fight to learn how to serve and give of myself without loosing the spirit. It's like Sister Beck said in her "Upon the Handmaids" talk from April 2010 General Conference: "…mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children. Being in the right places allows us to receive guidance. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks." and "We are also told that this Spirit will enlighten our minds, fill our souls with joy, and help us know all things we should do." If we're doing what we're supposed to be doing in wisdom and order, the fruit should and will be PEACE and JOY.

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  52. So true. One thing I learned from my mother was if you don't get yourself permission to take 'me time'? No one else will. If you are so busy that you don't have time for yourself, you end up having nothing left. Still though I hear people in our church say that this is selfish and that your family is what you need to concentrate on. I disagree. If you are so busy with church callings, PTA, family, and other things, then you are so exhausted and have nothing left to give. You become resentful, depressed, and not able to do any service for others. I learned that it's okay to know your limits. To say 'no' and not feel guilty about it.

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  53. When I started homeschooling my twin sons I struggled with how to do everything – friends and neighbors still thought I'd be available all the time because I was "home". I didn't know how to say no but with my kids home something had to give.

    A wise and experienced homeschooling mom said, "Remember that every yes to someone else is a no to your family."

    That advice was profound to me. I learned that I had already said YES to serving someone that day – my own family. I wasn't being selfish or lazy – I was saying yes to the people I most needed to say yes to.

    I no longer homeschool but I still live that principle … Anything I say yes to is a no to something else. As long as I keep a clear view of what's important, that little saying *generally* keeps me out of trouble.

    I cried watching this video because I was so sad for this mom. I'll admit it kind of makes me mad that this video was produced. I get how her service blessed others, that their need, and her gift to them, went beyond what she might ever know, but I think it's wrong to continually perpetuate the message that is so predominate in our church – to give, give, then give some more.

    I really appreciated the quotes shared in your post. THAT'S the message we need to focus on.

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  54. It is so interesting to read the comments about this video clip. CLEARLY it has struck a nerve–I know MY nerves were jangling the first time I watched it too–living vicariously her day and the stresses she faced. The second time I watched it I had a different take on it. I do NOT think the church produced this video to show us how we SHOULD manage our time–this gal made some choices that if kept up surely WOULD land her in a state of depression eventually. She should be careful of giving in to her daughter's demand for breakfast after she told her she would not make her something else, she should have made sure her son did his science fair board the night before and not bailed him out at the last minute (although it did appear that they were not working from scratch.) If she was overstretched she should have said no to the other requests. She should not have forgotten to make dinner. Then when she remembered she should either have taken an uncooked casserole over or remembered to turn on the oven. That's the thing. Do any of us make perfect choices all the time? I don't. Some days are riddled with stupid over extensions. I think it is important not to run on empty for long periods of time–it WILL end up in a crash. But was this gal truly on empty? She didn't seem (most of the time) at her wits end. Yes, she was exasperated and stressed a few times and I definitely think it was a shame that she did not make it to spend time with her cousin. But the gal who asked her to babysit DID seem in dire straights. We talk a lot about reaching out to others for help–isn't that what this gal who needed a sitter doing? It appeared that she had tried others and that she was NOT a chronic dumper (if she were then a NO would certainly been in order.) And eating with her sister in the park–was that really over the top? I say all of this just to bring up the point that while we DO need to guard our family's and our own time and there are times and seasons for saying no, we also need to be receptive to others' needs even when it is NOT always convenient. I have a good friend that has a wonderfully sweet of telling people who ask her for service, "No, I can't do that. But I can do THIS . . . " and then offering something she CAN do. (And if she can't do anything she kindly and firmly says no.) Because of my circumstances right now, to babysit for anything less than a major catastrophe makes me crazy so I never volunteer for that. But if someone needs cookies or rolls I am totally all over that. I think the bottom line is we need to not look at this video as a recommendation that we serve ourselves into a pit of black depression but recognize that even when we make foolish decisions we can still receive blessings and help and help others. (And I would hope that the next day she would NOT have the same scenarios of overextension play out again.)

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  55. a male friend of mine posted this video online, and did not mince words when he described how horrified he was at a message from the church which basically, in his words, "encouraged women to allow themselves to be used by everyone, at the expense of their own sanity," and that the only "authentic, mutual-care relationship" she had in the film was the one she shirked. he was afraid the message women would receive was "it's never ok to say no, because someone might really need your help."

    a year ago, i was helping to organize a women's retreat. one late night, completely exhausted, i was sitting in the tub when i felt a distinct impression about mary & martha.

    i've always hated that story. i felt like jesus chastised martha in front of everyone, when she was only trying to care for jesus and his entourage. she was trying to be a good host. she was trying to respect cultural mores. jesus let her have it!

    but, in that moment, completely drained from "service" projects i had heaped on top of my already-busy working mom's schedule, it hit me: jesus was talking to the men in the room.

    he said it so they could hear.

    he was justifying martha AND mary. he was opening a seat at the table. he wasn't saying, "shame on you, martha," he was saying, "shame on a system that would make you believe your place is somewhere other than here, with me. shame on a culture that would keep you in the kitchen when your heart is at the table." mary was bold and just DID; martha was respecting her traditions. JESUS shattered it, and he did it IN FRONT OF THE MEN. I think the guys he brought with him were as shocked to hear him as martha was.

    i say all this to say: sometimes culture and traditions dictate what is "expected" of women. church service, and work, and school projects, and raising kids, and feeding everyone, and keeping things clean, and keeping yourself up suck the life out of you, and while none of them are "bad" or "wrong," they are innately taxing.

    praise be to god, our lord and father, who sent his son to gently call us out of the kitchen and into his presence…and then have the audacity to tell the cultures and systems to quiet down! thank you god for justifying and validating our need to sit at your table and partake with you.

    it's ok if everyone eats cereal. he's calling our spirits into communion–he's calling us to self-awareness and self-care…

    …and that is ALWAYS the "best choice."

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  56. Love the post and discussion. The video (like most of our lives) was lacking in a few things but it was real and affirming for those of us still imperfectly trying to balance our lives with our weaknesses. It's long process. I loved Catherine's point about doing less better, more focused, more quality. That concept is eternal and has made my life so much more satisfying. One point I wanted to make was about the missed opportunity with her cousin. There are two lines from hymns that I love and I think both of them apply to this video ad. The first is "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven" We don't always and shouldn't sacrifice things we want to do but sometimes we do and it can and does bring forth the blessings of heaven. The second line is "My weakness in mercy he covers with power, And, walking by faith, I am blest every hour." When we are trying (baby steps), these principles hold true.

    I'm getting kind of old but I want to say that I really enjoy the powers of observation and the thoughtful articulation of the application of gospel principles to real living that many of you express. I see Pres. Kimball's prophecy being fulfilled.

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  57. Thank you for this post. I'm glad I'm not alone in my opinion.

    I watched this movie at the end of a long, tiring day. (I have 4 children under the age of four and my husband is deployed.) Many of my friends had posted the video on facebook with comments like, "so inspiring." I thought watching the movie would be a way to end the day on a positive note.

    Within a few minutes I was very upset. I could understand what the movie was trying to say, but I felt like they went about it terribly. People should have been asking this mother if she needed help, not asking her to save them at the last minute.

    Later I posted my concerns on facebook. I noticed a pattern to the responses from my friends. The more young children my friends had, the more likely they were to have hated the movie. Those people with older children, or fewer children, or no children loved the movie and were inspired by it.

    So maybe this movie was inspirational for those people feel like they have extra time to say yes to helping others. But for those of us who are already serving our family members to the breaking point, this movie was nothing more than a reminder of how hard life can be when you don't get a break.

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  58. "I don’t find my ward or RS sisters asking me to do service that would overextend me at this point in my life."

    Do you think being asked to be a cub scout den leader while you have two toddlers might overextend some women? I do.

    At least the video shows the mom busy doing things that a mom with kids can do "well"…..babysit, lunch at the park, make a dinner.

    What about those weekly church responsibilities that women really can NOT do "well" without hiring a babysitter?

    I read and hear more and more about how its the considerate and right thing to do to keep your kids at home when you visit teach.

    Same with a weekly YW calling. Or scouts. I remember feeling like i just wasnt effective with the YW because I was scrambling after my babies every single activity. Now, years later, its incredibly hard to manage eight rowdy cubscouts (at church….not allowed to have scout meetings in my house b/c that's just the way they do it here) while I have toddlers wanting to roam the halls.

    Of course I can't go to the temple without a babysitter.

    I'm not even talking about all the sign up sheets that get passed to me each Sunday…these are just the core LDS responsibilities/priorities: Calling, visiting teaching, temple attendance.

    Some people really have no family to step in and If you dont live in Utah there arent YW from the ward living nearby who want to babysit for free. I guess I'm just not willing to spend $100-150 per month on babysitters in order to fulfill church expectations.

    I get babysitters when I'm hospitalized.

    I don't volunteer at school, coach my kids sports teams, or go "out" on dates because those things require babysitters.

    It's more the principle of it than the actual money at this stage in my life. It's like callings are extended with a "you'll make it work somehow" assumption which bothers me.

    I also think it has to do with gender roles and not having a paycheck of my own, so the thought of not only working harder as an unpaid woman, but also spending money (my husband earned) on babysitters in order to volunteer "the right way" feels demoralizing.

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  59. Thank you, Julie. Your response brought tears to my eyes, I've always been frustrated at the Mary and Martha story as well, but I love your take on it. A wonderful way to look at things. I think the Book of Mormon teaches us to break the "traditions of our fathers" that do not coincide with the gospel and I feel that I need to work hard to NOT pass down the cultural thoughts that busyness=self worth and that a mother has to do everything single handedly without every taking thought for herself. If I can successfully teach my children differently, it will greatly change their lives. Thank you for your beautiful thoughts!

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  60. i'm back again because i've been thinking a lot about this discussion the last couple days and wanted to add a couple more things.

    the diverse reactions to this video and actually to the many issues surrounding women and the church right now makes me want to write a talk (because i learn the most about a gospel topic if i try to write a talk about it) entitled, "the paradoxes of the gospel and spiritual self reliance." there are so many seeming paradoxes in the gospel- all things in wisdom and order and sacrifice ourselves for service seems to be the crux of the problem here. thousands of different women have watched this video with thousands of different reactions ranging from "that was EXACTLY what i needed to hear," to intense anger. because we are a diverse group of saints, the church cannot produce talks/messages that always apply to every person that will hear them (although i do realize that there are arguments that there are certain messages that should not be sent at all). the most important thing that we can do is to be spiritually self-reliant enough and in tune with the spirit enough to either take away the message that the spirit would have us hear in our particular circumstances, or be able to say, "that doesn't apply to me right now."

    i distinctly remember sitting in a general relief society broadcast three years ago and sister beck was speaking. she said something (i can't remember what it was now) and the spirit said very clearly, "that does not apply to you right now. you have small children and they are your priority." if i had not had the spirit with me at that point, i probably would have felt overwhelmed or even angry that sister beck would try and demand such a thing of us, but instead, i could rely on the truths the spirit had spoken to me personally.

    i hope that all makes sense and you can see the tie in to this particular message. sometimes if we feel ruffled by something we hear from the church, we can pray about it and ask how it applies to us particularly.

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  61. Balancing our time and energy as we raise our families and stay active in the church, with our testimony intact, is one of the key skills we learn at that season of our life. I love hearing the voices of all young LDS mothers who are learning to take the Holy Spirit as their guide, whether it be to 'fill' or to 'pour' or to do both during any given day. We each decide how, when, and why. The test is to choose with honesty and sincerity for ourselves, without feeling judged or condemned by an outside source. We know when we choose what is right by the fruits of our lives. If the result is disorder, chaos and unhappiness, something needs to change. The trick is to remember that no two days will result in the same application; asking the spirit what is right, in the moment, and being content with the outcome – works!

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  62. Well written and I just watched about half the video and I am really frustrated. Say no already!!! She's missing out on the people who will refresh her to please others when it's not really needed. Boundaries not burnout, lady.

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  63. As I watched it, and I could barely watch it all the way through, two thoughts kept cropping up. 1) Where is her husband? I too noticed the wedding ring. Let's say he was doing rounds, but if that were the case, the mom would have known to not take on so much on a day that he's unavailable.
    2) The kids. Really? Doing nothing but fighting? My two bicker, but each of those kids would have been doing something to help the family.
    Years ago, my son decided he didn't like what I made for dinner. Ever. After a couple stints as a short order cook, I ended that and told him if he didn't like it, he could make himself a pb&j. He made two sandwiches and decided I could cook.
    Another thing I thought was "If I say 'yes' to you, what am I saying 'no' to? I have a finite amount of time."
    I understand what they were trying to say, service is important, you never know the difference you will make; but I also saw the burned out, desperately unhappy mom and cousin.

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  64. I, too, felt the paradox of this video. Thank you for your beautiful post. I also feel so encouraged reading through everyone's thoughtful comments! (and when was the last time a comments section made anyone feel uplifted?!) There were so many different views and people who made me think, but everyone has been respectful and loving! Maybe that wasn't the point of the video, but what a lovely side effect- to let us discuss and encourage each other and interpret its message in a way that uplifts and empowers us all!

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  65. Absolutely AMAZING, Catherine!!! How I wish that I had been watching Segullah the last couple days so that I might have read this sooner. You speak to women. Wow. You get it. You know our hearts' desires and you have expressed it all so well. Thank you for all the careful deliberation you clearly invested into composing this post. So gracious and so honest.

    I think one of the greatest challenges of our day is carefully choosing among many, many opportunities to do good. As women, we feel our hearts pulled in dozens of directions each and every day. E-mail, Facebook, texting, and so on make us all almost instantly aware of loved ones' struggles and needs. It is sometimes an hourly battle for me to pick from all the competing needs of loved ones (including myself) and know that as I choose to make one phone call or choose to take a nap or choose to make a pot of chili for my own family, I am also choosing to NOT do at least a dozen other good things that I would want to do if I had an infinite amount of energy and time. But, this is where I then land. I cannot do it all. God never intended it to be that way. He alone is infinite. So I try to look to Him, knowing that when I really need to do something for Him, the time and strength will be there somehow. My health issues have forced me to be content with small things and slow days. It is a continuous struggle to allow it all to be enough. As my body has struggled to keep up with my heart and mind, I have had so many opportunities to just let go of things and trust God with them. He knows how to take care of His children. It is a humbling but empowering thing to accept our own mortality. No matter what pressing needs there are around us, we still generally need at least 7 hours of sleep, many hours of relaxation every week, at least 3 solid meals every day, daily physical movement of some kind, time connecting with loved ones, and moments connecting with God. It is rare that God allows us to violate these laws of nature for extended periods without us falling ill (yes, I know He can enliven us for unusual periods of our lives, but then it seems we are left yet again to these basic needs). Then, there are the many pressing needs of those in our own families. In some seasons of raising a family, that leaves us with relatively small windows of time and energy for others outside our home so we have to choose very wisely when, where, and how we serve. God knows our hearts. I have thought often of the scripture in Mosiah 4:24 in terms of those who are "poor" in time or energy. "And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give."

    Love you so, Cath. I feel so so lucky to know you and even luckier to have now spent precious time with you in person. Thank you for starting this incredible discussion thread.

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  66. I remember the first time a turned down a calling. I wondered if I was not being obedient. This video can be triggering to those of us with small children who are tired of the give give give and give some more message.

    She gave so much she yelled at her children at the end of the day. What about telling her kids "you forgot your project, so you can learn the consequences" or "sorry but I have plans, can I cook / babysit tomorrow?" "i've had a hard day, can you help me clean up?"

    Truly Jenn Self Care is your priority and your season.
    Kind Regards,
    Victoria
    http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-spiritual-art-of-saying-no/6718

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  67. Thank you so much for your comment — this is just what I have been thinking! I think the point of the video is that sometimes we don't know the good we are doing, because we don't always see the big picture, and we often feel frazzled. The point was not to tell women to run themselves ragged every single day. It saddens me that so many women are too quick to dismiss serving others when it doesn't fit into their carefully made plans or personal time. (like you said, service is not usually convenient!) I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's statement from the Women's meeting last night : "God loves you for helping to bear one another's burdens even when you are struggling with your own burdens." THAT was the point of the video! And I find that saying yes even when it will derail my day a little, usually results in my burdens feeling lighter.

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  68. I think you are right, Valerie. At the moment, I only have one child at home, a baby who is super easy to take care of. I enjoyed the video, perhaps, because from my perspective it has reflected my reality in the past. I have been in the situation where I had young children at home, my husband was working in another country, and I was totally overwhelmed. From my current perspective, it is nice to think that the hardness of those days and awfulness probably did help people, even when I wasn't aware. Looking at it now, where I am not as overwhelmed and feel more in control (and believe me, that can change any minute. . . ) I feel like it is ok to say no, but I wouldn't have learned that without having a day like the woman in the message.

    I guess in some ways, I am on the other side and I can look back on that time knowing that all wasn't lost, even when I felt like it was.

    I appreciate hearing the different reactions to the message because it shows what women are experiencing now and I want/need to be respectful of that in my calling and in my daily life.

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  69. Beautiful, honest ladies who have commented here. I simply could not keep up a response to all your words and comments. But I want you to know I read what you said, my heart flew out to many of you. I heard you. Thank you for reading and sharing your personal experience here. Obviously, plenty of us feel undernourished and stretched thin. I worry too many of us hesitate when it comes to rejuvenation for ourselves, can't figure out how. Or when! I know. I've been there. Thank you for offering ideas, helps, and wise methods for self-care. Thank you for sharing your convictions of service and the need to nurture/care for each other. Your words have helped me, as well as handfuls of women who messaged me on Facebook, emailed, or approached me in person. Blessings to all of you – of strength, wisdom, and access to the Lord's infinite enabling power – as we move forward, doing God's work in our families, wards, and communities.

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  70. I would love to email and share with you my story– this absolutely reflected my thoughts (albeit you are much more eloquent!) a million thank you's, again and again.

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  71. Cath… All I have to say is thank you! You have always been such an example to me and I am so glad that you share your own thoughts as many of us are in similar situations but don't know how to see it from a spiritual point of view ((me))! Love you!

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  72. Thank you for finding a way to beautifully express some of the things I felt as I watched this video for the first time. (There won't be a second time for a long time.)

    I decided that for me at this point in my life the best way to serve is to pray for the Lord to guide my service. The Lord knows me and my situation and knows best how to stretch me without breaking me. I am loved, cherished, and of infinite worth and none of those qualities are dependent on what I can or cannot do at any given moment in time.

    On a funny note, we had the missionaries over for dinner and they wanted to show a Mormon Message. I told them any one except this one. It took them a long time to find the Mormon Message they wanted to show so I asked them if they had intended to show "You Never Know." They had. I'm sure they didn't know what to think, but they regrouped and found another Mormon Message that was fabulous for our family that day.

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  73. "It is not easy to get out of the way and let the Spirit direct. When I am able I am never left wanting." Liesa, this is so true. I loved your thoughts. And your experience. You are living the gospel so beautifully. I want to be like you. xo

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  74. I appreciate your thoughts on this video. 🙂

    Sometimes I take on too much. Not because I think I can't ever say no, but because I think I can work everything in. Sometimes I fail at trying to work everything in. I think that is REAL life.

    Sometimes I'm exhausted from all the things I do (six kids, homeschool, run a tech business, church, etc.) but I still want to do them. No one is making me. They are my choices. But sometimes the things I do don't result in an apparent reward. That is real life, too.

    I wrote my thoughts here: You Never Know: Why the Mormon Message Might Not Mean What You Think It Means. The varying perspectives are interesting.

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  75. Sorry to respond again, but I just read anon for tone:

    What about those weekly church responsibilities that women really can NOT do “well” without hiring a babysitter?

    Oh, my yes. yes yes yes. And how about all the years when I had multiple little kids when my husband was either in the bishopric or (worse) traveling as a high council member. Or when women who are home with little kids spend all Sunday in Primary or (worse) nursery and never see an adult all week long.

    If you want to have an "unwritten order of things," banning such callings (unless the recipient actually wants them) should be on it.

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