Behold Thy Mother

November 2015

Dear Sister,

This month is “pick a talk from General Conference” so I chose “Behold Thy Mother” by Jeffrey R. Holland (Apostle). Elder Holland started out his talk by referring to the Savior. He said:

“Prophesying of the Savior’s Atonement, Isaiah wrote, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” A majestic latter-day vision emphasized that “[Jesus] came into the world … to bear the sins of the world.” Both ancient and modern scripture testify that “he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” A favorite hymn pleads with us to “hear your great Deliv’rer’s voice!”

Bear, borne, carry, deliver. These are powerful, heartening messianic words. They convey help and hope for safe movement from where we are to where we need to be–but cannot get without assistance. These words also connote burden, struggle, and fatigue–words most appropriate in describing the mission of Him who, at unspeakable cost, lifts us up when we have fallen, carries us forward when strength is gone, delivers us safely home when safety seems far beyond our reach. “My Father sent me,” He said, “that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that as I have been lifted up … even so should men be lifted up … to … me.”

But can you hear in this language another arena of human endeavor in which we use words like bear and borne, carry and lift, labor and deliver? As Jesus said to John while in the very act of Atonement, so He says to us all, “Behold thy mother!”

Elder Holland paid tribute to mothers in his very touching, heart-felt talk. He said: “no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.

He mentioned how when Isaiah wanted to convey Jehovah’s love he described a mother. Isaiah asked: “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” and Elder Holland said: “How absurd, [Isaiah] implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.

He gave three examples he had witnessed in the last few weeks of what he called “the majestic influence of mothers”. But first he said: “You see, it is not only that they bear us, but they continue bearing with us. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat. Of course, there are heartbreaking exceptions, but most mothers know intuitively, instinctively that this is a sacred trust of the highest order.

  • In the first example Elder Holland told about a man who was away from the church and dying on his death bed. The man said: “Jeff, however painful it is going to be for me to stand before God, I cannot bear the thought of standing before my mother. The gospel and her children meant everything to her. I know I have broken her heart, and that is breaking mine.” In Elder Holland’s talk he said: “Now, I am absolutely certain that upon his passing, his mother received my friend with open, loving arms; that is what parents do. But the cautionary portion of this story is that children can break their mothers’ heart. Here too we see another comparison with the divine. I need not remind us that Jesus died of a broken heart, one weary and worn out from bearing the sins of the world. So in any moment of temptation, may we “behold [our] mother” as well as our Savior and spare them both the sorrow of our sinning.
  • In the second example a young man, by his own choice, sent himself home early from his mission because of same-sex attraction. He talked about how the boy was still worthy but his faith was at crisis level. He said scores of church leaders, friends, family members, and professionals worked with the boy for over five years. The boy ended up returning to the mission field and completing his mission.  Elder Holland said that in the beginning: “Through periods of bitterness (mostly his but sometimes hers) and unending fear (mostly hers but sometimes his), [his mother] bore–there’s that beautiful, burdensome word again–she bore to her son her testimony of God’s power, of His Church, but especially of His love for this child. In the same breath she testified of her own uncompromised, undying love for him as well.” Of this experience Elder a Holland said: “He knows he owes much to many, but he knows he owes the most to two messianic figures in his life, two who bore him and carried him, labored with him and delivered him–his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his determined, redemptive, absolutely saintly mother.
  • In the third example Elder Holland mentioned a mother who helped her disabled daughter. He said: “It was there with President Henry B. Eyring that we saw our beloved friend Lisa Tuttle Pieper stand in that moving dedicatory service. But she stood with some difficulty because with one arm she was holding up her beloved but severely challenged daughter, Dora, while with the other she was trying to manipulate Dora’s dysfunctional right hand so this limited but eternally precious daughter of God could wave a white handkerchief and, with groans intelligible only to herself and the angels of heaven, cry out, “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb.”

He ended his talk with two things:

To all of our mothers everywhere, past, present, or future, I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.”

To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle–and all will–I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are. In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion, and like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’

Taleen and I share with you knowing what it’s like to be a mother. We all know too well the sleepless nights, the unending to-do’s, and the effort we mothers put into motherhood. We also know too well the undying love we have for our children, how we would do anything for them, and how grateful we are that they’re in our lives.

I’m thankful that Elder Holland paid tribute to mothers, and believe what he said is true: “No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.

We love you,
Jade and Taleen

Click here to read Elder Holland’s Talk, “Behold Thy Mother