When our children were young, we used to play a made-up game for FHE. At dinnertime, my husband would announce, “let’s play Nephites and Lamanites tonight!” and a whoop would rise to the rafters while I would silently moan unnoticed and ignored.
The family would divide into two teams. It wasn’t about being on the “good” team or the “bad” team, because both teams had to be sneaky, cunning, and daring. After hiding a washcloth somewhere in their “territory” (living room or family room), the objective was to send scouts out to find the other team’s washcloth while guards stayed back to protect their own.
There were two serious problems with this well-loved game:
- The house was rarely clean enough to recognize what constituted a “good hiding place.”
- Without fail, someone would get hurt and end up crying, which usually ended the game.
Because I was always outvoted by four boys, plus one adult boy, (the girls just went along with it), I created a unique role for myself. The kitchen and hallway (each situated between the family room and living room) were neutral zones where both teams could pass without getting tagged. This is where I roamed, waiting for the inevitable hurt child, who needed comfort, before jumping back into the fray. Eventually, someone would end up getting really hurt, and we knew it was time to quit the game.
So, why do I share this ugly picture of our deranged family? A woman’s place is extremely important in the household. She is the ever-present entity, in the neutral zone, waiting with open arms.
At the April 2013 General Conference, Elaine S. Dalton spoke on the topic of We are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father. She reminded us “who we are and whose we are” and how we should “act well thy part.”
Recently, I have been studying the women’s role in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a significant role of stability and influence. In a speech at BYU, Belle Spafford (former Relief Society General President) said,
“After having a minor run-in with a Bishop, I complained to a friend, ‘in this church men have all the power, the women are helpless.’ She taught me a great lesson with these words, ’Oh no, my dear, the women are not helpless. If someone came to you and had a great but different gift in each hand, one was power and the other was influence, which gift would you choose?’ I thought seriously for a moment and then I said, ‘I think I would choose influence.’ ‘You probably did, my dear.’ she said. ‘Influence is a great gift of God to women.’” (Woman in Today’s World, Belle Spafford, BYU Speeches, Mar 3, 1970)
For women, to have influence is a power all its own. The world minimizes our role as nurturers, but we all have seen the toll family life has taken as women forget the influence they have over their children and seek to fulfill their own desires. Those women who raise their children with consistent, loving boundaries know that the blessings of heaven are at their fingertips.
When speaking of her mother, Sis. Dalton said, “she kept her covenants, and because she did, she called down the powers of heaven to bless our home and to send miracles. She relied on the power of prayer, priesthood, and covenant promises. She was faithful in her service to the Lord. Her steadfast devotion steadied us, her children…She understood what it meant to be a covenant keeper.”
This reminds me of the people of Ammon, formerly Lamanites, who buried their weapons of war, covenanting with the Lord that they would forever hold to peace and righteousness, which they did. And they diligently taught it to the next generation.
“Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.” (Alma 57:21)
It takes concentrated effort, on a mother’s part, to teach consistently the ways of the Lord. A child needs their hand held for the first several years, but once they are grown and successful, it is their mother they thank, and are beholden to, for that valiant start in life.
Brigham Young spoke volumes about the role of men and women. He said, “the men are the lords of the earth, and they are more inclined to reject the Gospel than the women. The women are a great deal more inclined to believe the truth than the men; they comprehend it more quickly, and they are submissive and easy to teach…” (JD 14:120)
My husband enjoys likening the Hebrew language to Gospel truth. The following is one of his discoveries. The words KING and QUEEN, in Hebrew, are almost the same and look like this:
Reading from right to left, the first three characters are Mem (ם), meaning the world; Lamed (ל), meaning Word of God, and Kaf (ך or כ), meaning cup-shaped hand. The word Queen has a fourth character, Hey (ה), representing the spirit, or the name of Christ. Together it means: A King and Queen stand before the world offering the word of God unto salvation. With that fourth character, women have an added measure of the Spirit to impart.
It is clear that in our day, we must choose the side we desire to stand on. Satan’s influence is strong, calling us to so-called greener pastures. Mothers are often weakened with earthly desires and trials. It is often easier to just give in rather than stand as witnesses. But, Sis. Dalton reminded us:
“Young women need women and men to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. Never before has this been more important than now. Young women need mothers and mentors who exemplify virtuous womanhood. Mothers, your relationship with your daughter is of paramount importance, and so is your example. How you love and honor her father, his priesthood, and his divine role will be reflected and perhaps amplified in your daughter’s attitudes and behavior.”
I’m grateful for the influence I have had in my own home. I enjoy my role as mother, and as the old song goes—I enjoy being a girl!