Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding Life by Giving It Away

For a long time I’ve been thinking about starting a series of Sabbath posts where I share my spiritual thoughts from the week and how I’ve been working on applying the gospel of Jesus Christ study to my life as a mother. So here goes.

This week Roscoe’s youth group hosted a fireside from Mormon musician Jenny Philips. She talked about the time when Peter stepped from the boat to walk across the water toward the Savior.

Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:28-31)

Her point was that following the Savior often requires that we step out of our safe and known place and onto turbulent waters. We sometimes doubt that we’ll be able to make it, that we’ll be supported, that the promises of the gospel will really work for us.

To me, marriage and motherhood are definitely like stepping out of the dry boat and onto the water. First to yoke your life through marriage to someone else’s no matter what twists and turns life may bring. Then to raise children with wills of their own and to commit yourself to meeting their almost limitless needs.

To me motherhood also means living faith in the promise thatFor whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it(Matthew 16:25). Of course as a feminist I'm opposed to women letting domesticity erase their identities. But as a postmodern feminist, I reject the whole idea that domesticity is incompatible with independence and that motherhood undermines self-actualization.

In one of those wonderful Christian paradoxes, I believe I am finding my self and my life in a more full sense by seeking to literally give my life--day by day and moment by moment--to my family. In a good day as a mother, so little of it is about me.

Of course I carve out and then vigorously defend certain bits of private time and activities that are just for me. Of course service can be taken to self-destructive extremes. You can't give from an empty soul. But oftentimes the leisure I think I need is really the boat I should leave behind. The rest I really need is the Savior's. I am happiest and strongest when I succeed in letting go so I can walk, step after step, with faith buoying my feet.

11 comments:

  1. These same thoughts have been hitting me lately. Mostly I think with terror about how I never would have grown up at all without motherhood. I would have been self-centered FOREVER. And ever. I've been at this 13 years and I'm still learning, and I'm so grateful for the lessons.

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  2. You have incredible strength and faith! I am constantly inspired by you.

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  3. Oh, Ang. Sometimes I wish you could come visit inside my head for a little while so that then you could articulate what's in it. You are so amazing at putting thoughts on paper.
    The thing with Asher's will has been on my mind too. I really need to ... do something I guess... to help me truly appreciate him for being so strong-willed. Right now I'm just so selfish and want him to be more pliable and obedient. But of course I feel guilty about that.

    And the thing at the end about carving out time for yourself but then do you really need that...such a good thought and something I need to really ponder and pray about.

    What I love about that scripture in Matthew is "But when he saw the wind". I think he needed to just keep his eye on Jesus and not even bother to "see the wind" and then he would have been fine. But he was too focused on his fear and not believing what he could see right in front of him. Sometimes I try really hard to not see the wind.

    Such deep thoughts for so late at night! I'll have to re-read this tomorrow and ponder more.

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  4. Nancy, that's such a good comment for me. I do get distracted by the wind--all the pressures of life swirling around--and that is what trips me up...like today :)

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  5. You are my mentor Angela!! I also enjoyed your comment too Nancy. This week it will be my goal to not notice the wind, but keep focused straight ahead..to what's really important.

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  6. I don't know if you ever saw the new Emma Smith movie but at one point her daughter asks her what she would change and her answer was 'me' I feel that so much. If I could stop looking at me, I would see so much more. But it is so hard. Great post.

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  7. I am so inspired by my big sisters! Jenny Phillips is the sister-in-law of my old friend and BYU roommate Maren. I met her a few times, and she has definitely gone through a lot of trials and learned from them. How neat that you got to see her!

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  8. beautiful thoughts.

    "I reject the whole idea that domesticity is incompatible with independence and that motherhood undermines self-actualization." Thank you! You put it so well.

    Motherhood is about service all the time and we need to fill our lamps with oil so we can keep serving...

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