This if for my friend who recently wrote me an email about her discouragement.
She has a three-year-old and a new baby. Someone asked her the other day, “So, what do you do besides keep 2 children alive?” They laughed a bit, but the girl waited for an answer and my friend stood there thinking, “I don’t do ANYTHING but keep two children alive. That’s all I do.”
Feeling a complex over this realization she wrote to me for advice and guidance. Which is so sweet, but of course I’m thinking, “I’m not doing anything else either. I’m keeping 3 children alive and trying to grow another one.” I’m just entering the second trimester of a pregnancy. I’ve been tired and sick the majority of most days for the past 8-10 weeks. I’m just now starting to feel a bit more energetic, a tad less sick. But during these past weeks of physical strain I have experienced some intense emotions of discouragement & uncertainty. Some hours have been spent tossing and turning in my bed, reading scriptures but not finding comfort, blankly staring at journal pages not sure what to write. I’ve fought with my five-year-old, spanked my two-year-old, and taken my seven-year-old for granted. I feel inadequate & ashamed. I’ve been snippy with my husband and felt sorry for myself. What could I possibly have to offer in words of advice and encouragement for this friend?
I sent out an S-O-S to another friend the other day in the midst of a tearful late evening “episode”. “I need a motherhood pep text,” I wrote. She sent a note back, “I actually have an entire article I want to send. There is no doubt that we are engaged in a sacred work. And they are children so briefly. Only 5 years and 8 months until [my oldest] goes to college. Enjoy a snuggle today.”
My kids were already in bed, so I couldn’t really get a snuggle right then, but I did quietly go to each of their beds and smooth away the hair from their faces and feel their warm breath on my hands as I pulled blankets back up under their chins. I whispered I’m sorry and resolved to do better the next day.
The article she sent is called, “My Home as a Temple,” by Kristine Manwaring. It appears to have been published in Meridian magazine in April, 2009, but I couldn’t find an active link to share with you. However, the gist of the article is the author’s struggle and ultimate discovery and acceptance of the sacredness that can be found in the everyday. I hope she won’t mind me sharing a section of her writing here. A wise friend of the author shared her belief that, “the work of feeding, clothing, and nurturing one another is every bit as spiritual as it is physical. She feels strongly that when ordinary, life-sustaining tasks are done together as a family, they bind family members to one another in small but critical ways. I was startled to realize that she saw as “sacred” the tasks that I always thought were obstacles to sacredness. And for evidence, she turned to the scriptures. The parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25 clearly shows that Christ will judge us according to our willingness to feed and clothe “the least of these my brethren” (verse 40). Does this include members of our own families? In fact, Christ used imagery of feeding and washing and cleaning throughout His parables and object lessons. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd” (Isa. 40:11). He will wash “away the filth of the daughters of Zion” (2 Ne. 14:4) and “sweep away the bad out of [His] vineyard” (Jacob 5:66). He even likens Himself to a hen who “gathereth her chickens under her wings” (Matt. 23:37).
Even more striking to me, Christ not only spoke of these things, He personally did them. He fed multitudes with limited tangible resources in a miraculous example of His attention to our physical as well as spiritual hunger. He washed the feet of His disciples to illustrate the humble service required of a Master and to reveal what He was willing to do that we might be entirely clean. In the book of Moses, He states that He, Himself, made the coats of skins to clothe Adam and Eve. When seen in this new light, my perception of tasks like peeling potatoes and scrubbing floors began to turn upside down and inside out. It was becoming obvious to me that when we care for the physical as well as the spiritual needs of our families, we are patterning our lives after the Savior.” (end quoted section)
The very purpose of our lives is to become like the Savior. Keeping 2 small children alive, helping a teenager with a school report, making a bed, tying a shoe, washing a dish with a 10-year-old, isn’t a “just”. The same friend of mine who sent the article said something several months ago I’ve thought of again and again when I feel discouraged and wonder what I’m doing & if I’m spending my time well. She said, “I’m striving for eternal salvation for me and my family every day. I think that’s enough.”
Are you able to recognize that sacredness? What helps you remember?