Christ’s Work, Motherhood, and the Atonement (Luke 23:35)

T-Rex, Tiger, Panda, and Sasquatch. (clockwise from left).

You are probably already aware that I am a stay-at-home mother of four kids. While I feel happy about this, there are times when I get a little down in the dumps. I don’t know if it is hormonal or if it is true depression, but there are times when I feel overwhelmed by the duties that surround me, yet not valued for the work I do.

A few years ago, I was a single mother working at a pharmaceutical company. Every day, I wore nice clothes, and fought rush-hour traffic to go and make a difference at this company. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember that the work I’m doing now is important, even if it is not really valued by the world we live in. It is hard for me to remember that I am making a difference – even if I’m doing it in sweatpants and with my hair pulled back.

I know that I can tell myself that what I do is important. I try to take time every day remembering how the years I’m dedicating to my children is benefitting them now and will continue to benefit them in the future. I tell myself, logically, that what I’m doing is valued, even though no one seems to notice everything that goes right in this house (there are no problems pointing out the things that don’t go right!) I try to comfort myself by saying that it is okay to be frumpy rather than stylish, and that “going to work” is not all that important on the eternal spectrum. I remind myself of my duties – to my children and my God. Usually these reminders help me to remember the vision I need to have – that the work I’m performing is important and fulfilling – but on a more eternal scale.

Even with these reminders, I still usually end up needing help from God. And yesterday, I came across this scripture:

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” – Luke 23:35

A little background
The setting of this scripture is – Christ on the cross while the people around him were mocking the single most important thing to happen in human history.

A Few Thoughts
One The mockers say, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he be the Christ, the chosen of God.” They didn’t understand that in order for Christ to save Himself, he’d need to first subject Himself. Christ had to die first. And Christ did deliver himself! Three days after his death, the tomb was empty. He had risen. He didn’t take himself off the cross. Instead, he did a work that was much bigger than any of them could understand: He saved Himself, and the rest of humanity, from death. Christ’s goal wasn’t in the “here and now” it was so much bigger than these unbelievers could see.

Two
I can only imagine how Christ felt, as he hung on the cross, doing the most important thing in the History of this world, saving the very people who were scorning him, and yet he went unrecognized. I can imagine that he could have felt useless and without purpose – he was doing something that was utterly unappreciated. It would have been so difficult not to cave to that kind of pressure – especially when he was working so hard!

Sometimes the cries of the world are deafening. I feel the pressure that I must do more and be more than just a mother. I know I’m not the only one. I have had colleagues say to me, “I thought you had more ambition.” When I explained I wouldn’t go to happy hour, but instead would go home. I have had friends say, “Why are you selling out?” when I chose to get married, quit working, and stay at home with my children. I have had loved ones say, “I don’t want to be one of those women who wastes their college education by being a stay-at-home-mom.” when I am exactly one of those women.

Besides experiences like these, I also see the images and hear the messages so prominent in our society. All of this adds up and it speaks to my worth, my goals, my ambition, and my direction. Usually, what it is saying isn’t that great.

I can think of Christ’s example, as He was on the cross, and let His determination inspire me. Even though he was unappreciated and misunderstood, he completed His work. I’m so grateful that he didn’t let the mocking and temptations derail Him.

Three
We have hindsight when thinking about what Christ did – in suffering and dying on the Cross. We know that He descended below all and overcame all. Yet while it was happening, it was hard for anyone to see or understand what He was doing. Of course, he was scorned and mocked by those who didn’t believe Him. But this isn’t all. Even His disciples denied Him. During Christ’s ministry, when he started to prophesy of His coming suffering and death, Peter rebuked Christ, “…Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee,” (Matthew 16:22). Even if they meant well, no one seemed to recognize the importance of the Savior’s work.

It was hard to understand that Christ’s work wasn’t limited to this earth; it was so much more.

Obviously, what I’m doing as a mother is nothing in comparison to what Christ did. Yet, I think that it is worthwhile to recognize the importance of rearing children. We mothers aid in Christ’s work – “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (See Moses 1:39.) We bring children into this world and so much more. We have been enlisted to help nurture these souls, these children of God, and guide them back to Christ and to their Heavenly Father. It is no small task. This assignment has more than mortal ramifications. Like Christ’s work, our work is eternal in scope.

On a day-to-day basis, my work may seem lackluster and even unambitious. Today I was in sweatpants until 2PM. But it is helpful to remember Christ’s example. It is helpful to remember how silly the mocker’s were – claiming that Christ couldn’t save Himself. And how, although He didn’t stop himself from dying, He saved Himself through the power of His resurrection. I’m grateful for His ability to remember the big picture – even during times of temptation and distress. I can remember this for myself – when I look at motherhood in an eternal perspective, I can’t imagine anything more ambitious. I may not have ambitions to climb the corporate ladder. Those ladders are WAY too small. My ambitions are eternal. I’m working to create an eternal family. I’m working to raise a righteous generation in a wicked world. I’ve got dreams…big dreams, and I intend to follow Christ’s example and see them through.

Leave a comment

11 Comments

  1. Dawn Love

     /  November 1, 2012

    What job out there is more important than your children? Who can love them and guide them better than you? (And you’re college educated – that’s even better!) YOU GO GIRL!! Stay at home mom’s ROCK!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Dawn! It’s funny that we can so easily overlook the importance of child-rearing. Also, thanks for the encouragement. :)

      Reply
  2. Jill

     /  November 2, 2012

    Thank you! That is amazing, and good food for thought.

    Reply
  3. Thank you for your long and thoughtful comment on my blog. You are one that knows, has been in my situation. There is SO much going on in my life right now- job loss, bad car accident, anger. It’s overwhelming at times. But I’m trying to get rid of this all. Thank you again!

    Reply
  4. Lisa S

     /  November 10, 2012

    This shows how important listening to the prophet and heeding his wise council is to our happiness. President David O. McKay said something like No other success can compensate for failure in the home.

    Reply
  5. That was awesome! I have heard motherhood compared to so many different things but never paralleled to the atonement. It really does help focus you on what truly matters. Thank you for that inspiration today!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Tiffany. As much as I love being a mother, there are times I struggle: I feel like I’m not doing enough, I’m not pretty enough, or what I’m doing in the home doesn’t matter. Thankfully, the Lord knows my heart, and helps to comfort me! It is good to know that the atonement really helps us in all aspects of life. )

      Reply
  6. Thank you! This was wonderfully written, and I can so relate! BTW, I have shared your post on the temple with my friends who are not LDS, because you explained things so much better than I could. I appreciate every word.

    Reply

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