After a lot of mulling and reading and praying, I chose the following quotes:
[W]hen we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind. (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels,” October 2008 General Conference)
The theme was on charity, especially as it relates to mothers, and that was one of the talks that the bishopric had assigned. I loved that talk.
Every girl and woman who makes and keeps sacred covenants can have a mother heart. There is no limit to what a woman with a mother heart can accomplish. Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so, and their influence will spread and grow exponentially throughout the eternities. (Sister Julie B. Beck, “A Mother Heart”)
I love Sister Beck. She has such a firm grasp on the doctrine, and a powerful testimony of it. Sister Beck has such a clarity in her teaching, and a powerful testimony of doctrine. As I read her talk, and the classic talk from which I quoted from Sister Dew (see below), I felt the Spirit so strongly. The doctrine surrounding our importance as women (not just those with children, but ALL women) is so powerful.
And I was moved to tears by this from Elder Holland:
Moved by [your] devotion and determination, may I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well....
Yours is the grand tradition of Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel, without whom there could not have been those magnificent patriarchal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which bless us all. Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who understood that she and Adam had to fall in order that “men [and women] might be” and that there would be joy. Yours is the grand tradition of Lois and Eunice and the mothers of the 2,000 stripling warriors. Yours is the grand tradition of Mary, chosen and foreordained from before this world was, to conceive, carry, and bear the Son of God Himself. We thank all of you, including our own mothers....
When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,” that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you.
You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.
Remember, remember all the days of your motherhood: “Ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.”
Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.” You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even — no, especially — when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And it will make your children whole as well. (Elder Holland, “Because She is a Mother”)
One of the things I loved about this talk from Elder Holland is that he acknowledges how difficult motherhood is. He reminds us that we cannot do it alone, nor should we try. The guilt that we often feel when we fall short can be swallowed up in the hope of the message of the Atonement. That is what moved me the most -- the reminder that we were never supposed to be able to figure this out alone, and we shouldn't expect that we can just do it and never make mistakes. Motherhood is something that can help us learn to lean on the Lord.
(I sure needed that tonite, myself, actually! It's hard to be so imperfect with something that matters so much.)
I wanted to be sure to include some quotes that capture the importance of all women in God's plan. My heart goes out to women who want to be mothers but do not have that opportunity right now. I know that sometimes even the promises of blessings in the next life don't seem to really compensate for the blessings missed now. I don't know what to say, except that I feel the Spirit when I study that doctrine, and I hope someday it can bring you peace.
I also hope that we can all as women understand that no matter our current situation, we can be instruments in God's hands for the good of His children. We all have the stewardship to be "mother[s] of all living."
When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living” —and they did so before she ever bore a child....Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy....[O]ur calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality. (Sister Sheri L. Dew, "Are We Not All Mothers?")