Just before leaving home, new missionaries are often asked to speak during a regular sacrament meeting for their home congregation. Since David's farewell was on May 9, his assigned topic coincided with Mother's Day.
Just recently, my mom was sifting through old childhood photos of my brother and I when I began to reminisce about the good ole glory days, when men were boys, and women were cootie-carrying vessels of mystery. As I was looking at these old photos I realized that my mother was involved in some way with all of them, whether she was in the picture with me or was the one taking it. I find this interesting because at the time I must have been too interested in my batman toys or the dinosaurs at Disneyland to notice how much of an influence in my life my mom was by simply how much time she spent with me. In fact, if it were not for my mom I would not have done half as many of the activities I have accomplished in my life, if any. For instance, as a testament to the truth of that statement, my mom is about to earn her second Eagle Scout award.
In Exodus 20:12 we are commanded to “Honour thy father and thy mother.” Why is this principle so important that it was instituted as one of the big ten commandments? It is apparent that the Lord thinks very highly of this commandment, especially in Moses’s day, because in Mark 7:10 it records that:
“For Moses said, Honour thy father and mother; and whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum the Lord does promise us that if we honor our parents that our days may be prolonged on the Earth, and even if our life is not physically lengthened the quality of our life will be vastly enriched. Nephi tells us he honored his parents when in 1 Nephi 2:16 he said:
“… I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.”
Nephi even shows this love for his parents outwardly when, after bearing a long and powerful testimony of the power of the Lord to his brothers Laman and Lemuel, rebuking them for speaking ill of and murmuring against their father, he tells them to worship the Lord and to honor their father and mother. The Army of Helaman exemplifies this commandment when Helaman recounts how the 2,000 warriors in his army:
“…never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives;”
And here’s the crux as to why:
“…yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”
And finally the ultimate example comes from Christ when in Doctrine and Covenants 19:24 he says:
“I am Jesus Christ; I came by the will of the Father, and I do his will.”
The family unit is perhaps the closest we come to emulating and understanding our Heavenly Parents. Caring for a child in the capacity of a father or mother figure helps teach us how to be not only instructive and watchful, but also how to love with the pure love of Christ.
How do we honor our parents, and for the purposes of celebrating today, honor our mothers? In the Ensign issue of April 1998, President Thomas S Monson tells of COL Higginson, a famed civil war officer who when asked what the most remarkable event of bravery he told of a man in his regiment who was “pure in his daily life, absolutely free from dissipations in which most of the other men indulged. He recounted that:
“One night at a champagne supper, when many were becoming intoxicated, someone in jest called for a toast from this young man. …he arose, pale but with perfect self-control, and declared: “Gentlemen, I will give you a toast which you may drink as you will, but which I will drink in water. The toast that I have to give is, ‘Our mothers.’” Instantly a strange spell seemed to come over all the tipsy men. They drank the toast in silence. There was no more laughter, no more song, and one by one they left the room. The lamp of memory had begun to burn, and the name of Mother touched every man’s heart.”
We honor our father and mother by listening to their teachings, and even more so by remembering them and living them, just as the stripling warriors in Helaman’s Army did. They believed their mothers and followed their teachings with exactness, and thus were able to run from a bloodthirsty enemy, turn around and then with no combat experience and suffering from exhaustion were able to beat them without suffering a single loss of life and minimal casualties.
As I prepare to embark on my mission, I wonder what miracles I can see accomplished if I choose to follow what I have been taught with exactness.
(bear testimony of living gospel principles at West Point)
(bear testimony of Training new cadets)
(bear testimony of power of Atonement and how it’s helped me get to my mission)
In closing I would like to read a poem that I wrote a few years ago in High School that describe how I have come to characterize my mom after these 20 years of knowing her:
A person of most notable worth
Is the person who went through my birth.
Who held in arms and with kisses smother
I am talking about my grand, ole mother.
She rocked me to sleep while I whined through the night
Oh, I’m sure she thought “What an eternal delight.”
Carrots and broccoli and nasty whole wheat
All of these poisons she forced me to eat.
So for years of no sleep her revenge was so sweet
I was sent to a prison, my life faced defeat.
They compelled me to count, to read, and to write
Millions of facts ‘til my head became light.
Look both ways, tie your shoe, put on your shirt
Wear helmets and knee pads and don’t eat that dirt.
Finish your dinner, no more T.V.
Wash your hair and stop bothering me.
I made it through five years with seven to go
All the anguish for me I was yet to know.
Her plan of payback was growing and swelled
My tasks were harder as my freedoms she quelled.
Practice Piano, do all your homework
Grounded, wake up, can’t go, say please, don’t smirk.
Who are your friends, just say no, make good choices
How can you concentrate with all those loud noises?
The final lap with just four year ‘til I’m out
“When I live alone…” to my mom I would shout.
She saw her control had almost run dry
So she sent me to work, I thought I would die.
On my own now to do what I please, but wait
Payments, laundry, I need food on my plate!
The work my mom gave me that put me to snores,
Turned out to be teaching rather than chores.
I would also like to close with my testimony that Heavenly Father teaches us eternal principles through our trials and as long as we remain faithful through them and endure to their end we will grow to see how they bless our lives. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.