A More Sustainable and Inclusive Motherhood
by Christian Y. Cardall
This is the fifth installment of a talk entitled The Divine Role of Mothers.
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Having discussed the divine role of mothers as creators, redeemers and saviors, and judges, I would now like to introduce a discussion of ways in which this role might be made more sustainable, and also more broad and inclusive.
Considering the sacrifices motherhood entails, it would not surprise me if the prospect of an eternal progeny as innumberable as the sands of the seashore seems, to some, more ominous than glorious. Historically, childbirth routinely claimed womens’ lives; thankfully, modern medical advances have ameliorated much of this danger. But also, it seems that motherhood has historically worn out many womens’ lives as well, taking not just a physical toll, but mental and emotional tolls as well---and I don’t know that as much progress has been made on this front. I suppose only those living and experiencing it could say. It's true that we don’t know in any detail what motherhood in eternity would be like; we may speculate that it is different than it is here in mortality, in ways that will make it more bearable. One might hope so, if it is a role that is to last forever!
But since we don't know for sure that the nature of celestial motherhood will be drastically different, perhaps we should "plan for the worst," so to speak. Regarding our own responsibility to make heaven heavenly, I like the following thought from Brigham Young regarding the heavenly city, described by John the Revelator as having streets paved with gold:
...we will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold. The angels that now walk in their golden streets, and they have the tree of life within their paradise, had to obtain that gold and put it there. When we have streets paved with gold, we will have placed it there ourselves. When we enjoy a Zion in its beauty and glory, it will be when we have built it. If we enjoy the Zion that we now anticipate, it will be after we redeem and prepare it. If we live in the city of the New Jerusalem, it will be because we lay the foundation and build it. (JD 8:354-355)Hence we should not simply presume that all will magically be different in eternity, and this includes motherhood: we should take responsibility in the here and now, to learn to do it in a way that would be sustainable throughout eternity if necessary.
There is necessarily sacrifice, a setting a portion of one’s life apart for this divine purpose instead of one’s own interests; but even the Savior received succor in the midst of his atoning sacrifice. Moreover, while infinitely deep, the Savior's distress was quite limited in space and time, and soon afterwards came the resurrection. By comparison the sacrifices of motherhood are, if not as deep, more sustained and extended in time. Ongoing succor, and some early installments of “resurrection,” or “new life,” in the midst of the sacrifice would, I imagine, be welcome.
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