Thursday, May 19, 2011

What’s My Mission?


One of the great problems I see among the youth (and that I personally experienced) is the phenomena I will call split personality. Growing up I was repeatedly asked, "What did I want to be when I grow up?" I learned by first or second grade that any answer was acceptable except for one, I should not say, "mother." I learned how to answer other questions asked like, "How was the world created?" I also learned I was supposed to give the answer, "mother" at church and home. Thus I had a set of answers for school and a completely different set of answers to the same questions at home and church. This may eventually lead us to become a totally different person in each situation. I see this "split personality"manifested among the youth at a whole new level than even I experienced. Satan is ramping up his game well!

I have talked regularly to my children about being the same person no matter where they are. However, within the Leadership Education circles I am starting to see the split personality creeping in among the "leaders." Recently I listened to several seminars and read a book that all are promoting this. In the TJEd world it is called, "Finding Your Mission." Youth are encouraged to seek out finding what their "mission" is. Often it is not expected to be discovered until the youth are a little older, but an ongoing fascination exists in that it is all the talk while the youth are in scholar phase. One seminar I listed to said, "Nothing will be more satisfying in your life than figuring out what your mission is and then having the courage to fulfill it."

You may be wondering why I see a problem in this. It is simple. We have already had our missions revealed to us. We are to be mothers and fathers. Of course I know in the TJEd world that they encourage motherhood. I appreciate that, it is certainly different than public education, BUT, motherhood is still considered a side note. In the book I recently read the woman (who is a high profiled TJEd leader) cried to her husband that wasn't she created for something more that to change poopy diapers and clean up vomit? When was she going to be able to embrace her mission? Her husband lovingly told her, that he was sure it would be soon.

I fear these statements convey to our youth that there is something more to life than parenthood. It would seem that being a mother is just one of the things you do in this life. Somehow, you must be defined by something else though. This would be a potentially lifelong dedication to a "mission." I believe this is misleading. Consider this:
  • Heavenly Father chooses to be called Father.
  • His work and His Glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. This means ongoing parenting.
  • Keeping our First Estate enabled us to have bodies and procreate.
  • Godhood is Eternal Parenthood.
  • If we qualify for Exaltation we will be granted the ability to have a "continuation of seed."
  • Those not qualifying for Exaltation will be impotent, even those obtaining the lower two degrees of the Celestial Kingdom will be denied the right of continuation of seed.
Simply put eternal lives is about parenting forever. Why not embrace mortality and strive in every way to submit to this high and noble calling? A calling so noble that that is what our Heavenly Father does. When we choose to place lesser value on this holy calling we will lose power in our lives.

The noise of this world is LOUD. It is hard to hear the voice of the Father calling us to this high calling. Satan, the father of lies, is louder than God, telling us we were made for something more or better. It takes great faith to turn off the tantalizing noise of the world and tune into the sweet, still small voice of the Spirit. I have come to personally know for myself that great blessings come from turning off the noise. I am hearkening to the voice of the Lord and I am just beginning to have a glimpse of His wonderful and majestic plan. It is more holy and more awe inspiring than anything that Satan can counterfeit.

Perhaps along the way many of us will do great things. I suspect we will. We are the last laborers in the vineyard. We were saved and reserved because we were the best of the best. I simply say that in all our doing we must make sure that being mother remains our priority AND we teach this to our children.

There are times when we will literally parent 24/7. Then there will come a time that we will have more "time" on our hands. Perhaps at this stage we may ask, "How can I help build the kingdom?" "How can I further work on my parenting skills, which really comes down to bringing souls to Christ?" I would suggest that Relief Society and focusing on the Three Fold Mission of the Church would provide untold service opportunities.

As I have extra time I have sought out my faithful Relief Society Presidents through the years and asked for extra assignments. It is through the Relief Society (which is under the Priesthood) that my surplus of time and talents are dedicated. Through the years I have been given many extra opportunities to serve in this way.  I have learned that "there are chances for good all around." My talents are used to build the kingdom, but it hasn't come in the way I have often wanted. It has come as I have worked under the direction of my husband and within the ward.  There is more than enough to do in my family and ward to fill my time and build the kingdom. I am simply saying I don't need to go "find a mission," I simply need to live my mission already given to me. "There is work enough to do ere the sun goes down," and Zion needs to be built. We further that cause by submitting to our role of mother/nurturer. We further the work of the Father by striving to be mothers who also partake in the Father's work to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

So in a nutshell perhaps we could change the message to our youth to be, "Nothing with be more satisfying in your life than realizing that your mission is to be a mom/dad and then having the courage to reject Babylon's message that there is something more important than fulfilling your family roles."

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just loved this clarifying post. Loved it!

Kellie, said...

I had this conversation with my young daughters today. I always felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of finding your mission. I already knew mine, to be a mother, but was always a little hesitant to say it. I love the way you clarified this and wish that I had read this before I had the talk with my girls, I will have to bring it up again.

Strong Man said...

This is truly beautiful. What a blessing to encounter someone who actually believes the gospel and has the courage to stand up for it. That is true leadership. Thank you!

I think the situation may get worse in colleges, even among our LDS women. It's rarely socially okay to say, "I want to be a mother" in academic circles, yet plenty of praise is dished out to women who pursue disciplines such as medicine, science, or engineering, that are often heavily populated with men.

Perhaps one hesitation to embrace motherhood as a mission is the fear that you may actually never marry, and you need something you can rely on. But that's not an excuse--we shouldn't take counsel from our fears.

Why can't we embrace learning about parenthood as a proper pursuit? It's a big and difficult challenge to raise great children.

Amy said...

I relate to this "split personality" syndrome. My mother drilled motherhood into my head, yet often said things like "your too smart to just sit at home having babies. Live up to your potential." It has been a very confusing and frustrating journey.

I went to BYU. I remember distinctly looking around at my very talented roommates and thinking "why did Heavenly Father bless his daughters with so much ability if he din't want us to use it?" I felt very discouraged. It wasn't until many years later that I began to see the big picture. Each of our gifts and talents are meant to 1) help us be better parents and 2) help build the kingdom. I disagree 100% with your suggestion that building the kingdom should wait until we have more time. When our children see us working for the Lord, especially when we include them, they will learn habits that will last a lifetime. Our true mission, regardless of marital status or parenting status, is to assist our Father in his wrok of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life on man. That includes our own children but it is certainly not limited to just our families. We should always be seeking the guidance of the Spirit in our choices and trusting that the Lord will bless all our efforts.

Amy said...

Amen!

I used to say "I've got to figure out my mission" almost every day. Until, just a year ago, I got it - I'm a mother! Ironically I experienced my epiphany in the process of doing some exercises for a course taught to women on finding their mission for the purpose of going into business. I am now employed full time as a mother and I couldn't be happier.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Oh dear! Did it sound like I said we should only build the kingdom when we have time? I would also disagree with that 100%! : )

I think that as we come to that sweet spot where Christ is in very deed the "living center" of our lives, as the prophets and apostles have said, then everything we do will be building the kingdom. All of our time will be dedicated to Him, not just our "free time."

I hope that is more claryfying!

Ranee said...

Olivia Votaw forever changed me when she came and spoke at our recent Mom's Retreat here in AZ. I had always ALWAYS felt at odds with myself because I was pressuring myself to "find my mission" and it was stressing me out. I would always tell friends and family that I felt like my mission is to be a mother and that was the extent of it. I couldn't see anything more important and yet I felt like I had to be this "scholarly example of mission" to my children. I am grateful for Olivia's words when she said we can take our families on our mission with us. That instantly hit me...motherhood IS my mission! I don't have to be something I am not...and while scholarly pursuits are wonderful and admirable...if Heavenly Father is specifically directing me in those studies, they will also compliment my mothering and not compete against it. I LOVE LOVE LOVED this post today Deanna! I know that I am to be a mother. That's my mission, and I can rest in my understanding of what THAT means, for ME! :0)

Emily said...

I really liked the paragraph after the bullets: "Simply put eternal lives is about parenting forever. Why not embrace mortality and strive in every way to submit to this high and noble calling? A calling so noble that that is what our Heavenly Father does. When we choose to place lesser value on this holy calling we will lose power in our lives."

I've been thinking a lot about that lately and realized how important it is to come to understand Heavenly Father's Plan for us (me). If we don't understand it, we're more likely not going to want to do it. I think lots of women are super tickled to be mothers, and then some of us have to work at it a little more for one reason or another, but because we understand the doctrine, we are seeking to do the best we can in this beautiful role/"mission" of mother.

ℛℯℬℯḉḉα said...

The pressure the world puts on us is so real (I should say Satan). I have often felt not good enough for TJ Ed leadership because I don't have a drive to do something more, something bigger. I like being a wife and mother. It keeps me very busy and fulfilled. I don't want to leave my children to "make a difference in the world" I want to make my difference at home in their lives. I like being in a flexible environment that allows me to be lead by the spirit.

Flora said...

There are "Two Towers." But you are right. The focus too often is on the second tower with a token nod to the first.
Thank you!!

Nicole said...

My husband and I have talked about this for years--this was the one aspect of TJED that left us uncomfortable. I think the "mission" aspect can appeal to our pride...which can leave us open to deceiving ourselves into thinking our own interests are sanctioned by God--and again, it can make us feel that our eternal priorities are not enough.
Moses, Samuel, Joseph Smith, Rebekah, Mary...none of these men and women were actively seeking a "mission". They were seeking to live righteously and the Lord sought THEM out and gave them their missions...
I don't know if I'm making sense; all this to say, that I,too, have felt uncomfortable in the push to "find one's mission in life".

Kitchen Recovery said...

Perhaps it is more appropriate to say we should seek out our talents and interests and continually strive to improve them to bless others.

Carrie said...

I agree with what you have said. The world teaches us that we can't be fulfilled at home with our children. I k ow this is my mission right know and everyday as I wake up to the beautiful smile of my baby I am so grateful. I will say that I know what my mission will be. I say will be because it is not for me right now. It was prayerfully achieved over many years. What the Lord wants me to do now is to study the gospel and build that knowledge. Then I will
Be ready, truly ready, for whatever and wherever he needs me. Could you imagine the powerful force we could be for good if we could get alll the women of the church to really study,know , and love the gospel. We would be unstoppable!

Kimberly said...

I LOVED this post! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, too. Thanks for putting it so clearly.

Marni said...

Beautifully clear, beautifully written. One of the best articles I've read in a long time.

Mrs. Small House said...

I liked this. Because that was me too. I planned so many careers and then had my son and it was tough to let it all go. So I agree with the split personality.
And yet.... sometimes I think motherhood becomes an idol for me. I can get so wrapped up in it, I forget my own relationship with God. Because my own personal salvation ISN'T just based on my (very important) performance as a parent. It's about being a disciple of Christ. And I forget that a lot.
Does that make sense?

Kassie said...

I relate to this as well. I belive my mission is to be a mother, and specifically to 'teach them about the light'. This was given to me a few years ago and I have not wondered about my mission since. I do hesitate to share it though. I guess I think it sounds too generic.

Karen said...

I to have felt uncomfortable with the emphasis on finding a certain mission. I don't think I have ever heard any gospel doctrine about there being "two towers". Is there really such a thing or is it a false teaching that people are getting confused by? I don't know. I do know that being a mother is my calling in life and I LOVE it more and more all of the time. It is so fulfilling and rich. I do think I have talents that will bless those outside of my family, but those opportunities seem to come as I am doing my best in fulfilling my most important role.

Mama Rachel said...

Hi Deanna,

I actually taught a class at the SLC TJEd Forum in 2010 about motherhood being a mission. It is also something that frustrates me in the TJEd community-- that mothers and fathers are looking past the mission that is under their very noses: PARENTHOOD.

I do also think it's about seasons of life. The Prophet is in the midst of his "Impact Phase." He is making a HUGE difference in the world, as is Sister Beck. They have raised their children and are now serving the Lord's kingdom outside of their family circle. There are many who serve in church leadership who do the same, although some do begin serving while their children are still at home.

I like the comment of the person who said that the prophets of ancient time were CALLED. We can each receive "A Call", and it may not even be in the church, but it DOES need to come from the Lord. And we shouldn't be looking "beyond the mark" to find it. But sometimes, the call comes, and then the Lord qualifies us. (I've definitely experienced that before!)

There are ebbs and flows. Sometimes, it's our turn to mentor other people's children, or to serve in church leadership, or to build our communities. And then, at other times, it's the season to step down from leadership, or to be released, or to focus only on the children in our own homes.

Thank heavens for the Holy Spirit to guide us! :-)

Hugs,
Rachel K.

Cherie said...

Another beautifully written post! After reading I had a good chat with my husband about it and he also couldn't agree more. Thank you for putting your thoughts done, judging by the comments left it seems like many a TJed-er also felt put off by how the mission phase seems to say to look outside your roll as mother/father. Certainly there ar talents and things to improve within ourselves that will bless others, but how important and wonderful is the work within our homes! There is nothing that will compensate for failure in the home, its' good to be reminded of where we need to be and that our children need to be part of our everyday journey until the end!

Sarah said...

Hear, hear! I especially appreciate your acknowledgment that fatherhood is a man's noblest mission. As we teach our sons to prepare for a career we need to remember to teach them that whatever work they take on should not be for the sake of the career alone, but for the sake of providing for their families first and for the good they can do in the world second.
For our daughters, it may help if we teach them to be true mothers whether they have children or not. It is true that not all women have the opportunity to marry, and not all married women are able to have children. But women can and should develop and use their mothering abilities whatever their circumstances in life. It is really not so different from men--our service as mothers is primary, the rest--education, a job or business, a calling--facilitates that highest of callings.

Melissa R. Wolfe said...

I disagree with your viewpoint on the idea of missions and how they fit with parenting. I believe that all missions can be encompassed within the roles of motherhood or fatherhood. Each one of us is unique, with our own particular skills and talents. I approach motherhood differently than my friends do. One of the missions that Oliver DeMille mentioned immediately resonated with me. I have been able to recognize this strength/goal/yearning in the way that I mother. Also, looking through the list helped me discover how complementary my husbands strengths are with mine. I feel that my children need the unique combination of parenting that the two of us give them. Identifying one or two primary missions can help clarify who I am as a mother, how I will uniquely mother, and where my efforts will be most useful.

I have found many of the missions Oliver DeMille lists in the scriptures. Some I searched out immediately, for further study. Others I have come upon during regular scripture reading, but they stood out differently because of the idea of missions. As I read about Ruth and Esther (just to pick 2 examples) I can see that they were both great examples of womanhood, but they clearly had different strengths. They didn't shy away from their own strengths, but developed them to the benefit of others. That is what I think mission is all about.

Nicole said...

I think the "two towers" reference is from the 2nd edition of A Thomas Jefferson Education.
I don't think the mission phase is about differing personalites within our mothering in our home;
I also don't think that serving others or feeding the hungry, educating the ignorant, ect are bad. Perhaps it's when we put OUR interests, OUR passions, OUR desires ahead of serving God and others where He places us in search of a "mission" that things get out of balance. I think there is the danger to deceive ourselves. Does this always happen? Of course not. However, I do think it's more likely to happen in youth; they may just miss the greater part in search of a "mission". Or feel inferior if they can't seem to pin down that one great thing they are to do with their life.
Mama Rachel said it well. I was just trying to further clarify my thoughts. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Recently I asked my son what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said a scoutmaster. I was surprised by his answer and then touched. I realized my mistake then and was grateful for the experience that taught me what was really important. I tell my children when I grow up I want to be a grandma. ;0)

mama of many said...

Dearest Friend,

You are an inspiration!!! Thank you for putting into eloquent words the dicotomy the idea of "mission" has placed in so many lives, especially us TJEDers. I love LOVE love being a wife and mom and truly it can teach us all we need to know. It is the perfect sinario to learn all of Christ's attributes.

The day my first was born I felt like I had a rebirth myself and that feeling has continued to grow with each child. The sense of purpose and possibility is amazing. Children are our eternal inheritance.

There is nothing greater to inspire in our children than a love of family and parenthood. Mothers who love their role and treasure even the opportunity to change a diaper(grateful that their child bowels work) are the most beautiful thing on the planet.

Uncle Dan said...

Hi,

Thank you for sharing your eloquent words. I am running an online school to promote the missions of motherhood/wifehood. Go here to learn more treeoflifemothering.ning.com/profiles/blogs/heavenmakers-this-is-going-to

Eve said...

Hi! I am a little new to your blog and have visited a time or two. I read this post today and wow, I nodded my head right along. It is so validating to 'hear' you say these things because I, too, have been recognizing my influence for good, my own personal mission, that is fulfilled by being a wife, mom and faithful Relief Society member. It is a privilege, and I hope to live up to it. Thanks for your insights on this very important topic.

Blessings,

Eve

Myra Johnson said...

I loved reading this article called, "What Are You Doing Here?" by Elder John H. Groberg. It's a lovely article that I felt really put "finding your mission" into more of a proper perspective. One thing I got from it is that if we are earnestly seeking to have the Spirit guide us each day, and following that guidance, then we are doing what the Lord would have us do that day. And continuing on this way, He will be able to lead us to the next thing. Here is the link to the article:

http://lds.org/new-era/1987/01/what-are-you-doing-here?lang=eng&query=doing+here%3f+groberg

Wendy said...

love it! I recently discussed this with my 18 year old after a family friend told her how her college plans were not good enough because she wasn't trying to be a doctor. Her response to this good family was friend was that her main goal and purpose in life was to be a wife and mom. Her education choices were to complement that goal. Good girl! I think I will have her read this post as well. Thank you.

Tina said...

Wonderful post! It puts into words some feelings that I have had. I have of late been feeling inadequate because I do not have any mission or expertise outside of the affairs of my home. Thanks for writing this!

Strengthened Daily said...

A friend directed me to your post. I have always been disturbed by the fact that child-rearing is not valued in the world and, I think, at times in the Church. There is a lot of lip service to childrearing, but would a man volunteer for that job? No, it is woman's work. Somehow God has blessed women with the talent of doing all the mundane tasks of childrearing and not men. I don't believe that. It is hard for women, just as it would be for men, to change poopy diapers and pick up the toys 20 times a day. I do believe that God has given men and women individual talents, but we shouldn't just make motherhood important, fatherhood is equally important.

We talk about women needing to grow up to be mothers in the Church. Are men growing up to be fathers? No, the are growing up to be priesthood holders. Now, of course, a priesthood holder should be a good father. Yet, we need to emphasize that part of a man's mission is being a father.

I am sincerely happy that there are women that can find happiness being a homemaker and mother. I have absolutely loved being a mother. It is a gift that the Lord has given me. But, homemaking doesn't give me any joy. It just makes me frustrated. I have needed a separate "mission". That doesn't mean I don't value it. I do. I have tried to get better at it and find there are parts of it that I can love. But, I will just be honest and say that I needed something different. I needed to be good at something. So my mission has become two-fold. Motherhood and teaching.

I have spend my energy trying to be a better mother. I have also pursued other parts of my mission. This doesn't include homemaking. I am happier now. I feel the Spirit because I am not angry and frustrated. I feel the Lord has directed me constantly on this path.

Fancy Nancy Pants said...

That was awesome. Thank you for sharing all your thoughts. I passionately agree with it all.