When the days seem tough and the nights even worse, young (and old) mothers can find solace and encouragement in the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
“In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.
“Yours is the grand tradition of Eve [and so many other wonderful mothers]…. We thank all of you…and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the mortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high” (Ensign, May 1997, p. 35).
In closing, I’d like to paraphrase the words of Elder Ballard: “We need [mothers] who can hear and will respond to the voice of the Lord, [mothers] who at all costs will defend and protect the family[,…but] above all, we need [mothers] who will stand up for truth and righteousness and decry evil at every turn, [mothers] who will simply say, ‘Lord, here am I, send me'” (When Thou Art Converted, p. 179).
When we think about the Atonement, we commonly think of it as the Savior’s sacrifice. As I was thinking about the Atonement the other day I thought of the sacrifice our Heavenly Father made. I can’t say this is a novel thought, it just isn’t something I’ve thought about much. Heavenly Father had to give up His Beloved Son to those who would abuse and kill Him. During the suffering in the garden of Gethsemane, the Father had to remove His presence as His Son took upon Him the sins, sorrows, and sicknesses of the world. How the Father must have suffered as He watched His Son suffer! He surely match the Savior’s tears with His own. Just as the Son asked for the cup to be removed, if it was possible, I’m sure His Father would gladly have asked a lesser sacrifice if it was possible.
In the book of Genesis we read the story about Abraham being commanded to offer up his first-born son Isaac. He dutifully followed the Lord’s commands, even though he did not fully understand why he was asked to sacrifice his son. How Abraham must have suffered in seeking to do what was required of him. Isaac was to be sacrificed but Abraham was the one offering his sons as the sacrifice. Isaac was willing and trusted his father. The similarities between Abraham and Isaac and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are intentional. Of course, Isaac was replaced with a ram at the last moment but the Father and the Son had to go through with their sacrifice. It’s important to remember our Father’s sacrifice in addition to the Savior’s.
Being holy also requires us to be clean. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of the cleansing that comes in the temple and through temple service: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36: 25-27). The Lord promised a new heart, a heart softened by the Spirit, to those who receive saving ordinances and keep His statutes. This new heart allows us to be better people: better saints, better citizens, better mothers, fathers, and friends. It is a new heart that beats warmly within our chests, filling us with love and charity for our friends, neighbors, and the entire world. The temple is a place where we learn to live as better people in this world while striving to remain spotless from the sins of the world; Elder Maxwell stated, “Temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world” (N.A.M. Quote Book, p. 339). Inner change is not enough, we need to take that change and seek to bless others.
The Savior likened the gospel and the kingdom of heaven unto a pearl of great price, which a man sold all that he had in order to purchase (see Matt. 13: 45-46). The kingdom of heaven is something for which we need to be willing to give up everything. Hopefully, none of us view the gospel as a pearl of great pride instead of a pearl of great price. A pearl of great pride is something we hide away and don’t share; we may have worked hard to obtain it and we want the world to know that. A pearl of great price is something that we give our all for and then share it with others so they too can experience the beauty and blessings of that pearl. That’s what Elder Maxwell said about the temple – it’s not a place that removes us from the world; it’s a place that moves us to improve the world. The temple is not an exclusive club that keeps out the rabble (it’s not a pearl of pride), it’s an education center that gives us the opportunity to, as the BYU motto states, “Enter to learn, [and] go forth to serve;” the temple is a pearl of great price – something we should be willing to give our all for; it’s not just a one-time purchase but something that requires our whole lives. The price – the responsibility – of the temple is a life of willing sacrifice and service and of obedience and repentance.