After the events of this week, I felt like it was time for some spiritual renewal. My emotions are tender and this heart so full that tears are often at the surface. I had been looking forward all year to spending Friday at Women's Conference. I always come away soul nourished and emotionally replenished.
The sessions I chose to attend were perfect for me. Just like they were last year. It always seems to turn out that way.
~"Discipleship and our Ministry"
~"This is a Gospel of Grand Expectations, but God's Grace Is Sufficient for Each of Us"
~"Our Discipleship Need Not Be Dried Out by Discouragement or the Heat of the Day"
~"Homemaking Skills: Learn Them and Pass Them On"
As I sat there in that arena with the other thousands of women, young and old, all of us united in our love, and our faith, and our sisterhood, I felt such overwhelming feelings, to the point of warm tears welling my eyes. All our voices raised together in singing this hymn. I wish I could give you a sense of the beautiful melody, but here are the words:
Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another's lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof's safe shelter overhead,
That he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I'll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I'll show that love by word and deed;
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.
(text: Grace Noll Crowell)
These words sank deeply in my soul. This idea of sacrifice, service, giving, and suffering, which have been at the forefront of my mind, especially that morning as I was continuing to contemplate Gary's missionary departure and all that this entails for him, for our family, and for me as his mother. Stacey's comment left on my "a missionary" post the day before continued to set heavy on my mind. I again asked myself this question:
Why does loving hurt? Why do we continue to serve, sacrifice, and give to others, even when it sometimes, many times, causes our own pain and suffering?
I've asked myself this question many times. Especially as I've experienced this thing called motherhood.
I don't have all the answers. But I know some things for certain.
Loving isn't easy. In fact, it's downright painful, inconvenient, and difficult, sometimes.
Being pregnant and going through childbirth hurt. I suffered tremendously, both physically and emotionally for each of my children. My body, sick, sore, and bleeding, stretched beyond capacity, stretch mark scarred for life. Those nursing and baby years were not a piece of cake, either. Tired. So tired.
But I gave it all, and sacrificed it all and endured it all because of love.
Helping others outside my family circle, as well the sacrifice I've given in church service has not been been convenient or easy. There were times when I've felt stretched thin; giving my whole heart and so much of my time and energies to those that needed the help and gifts I could offer.
And now, this next sacrifice: This offering up my son to God. This chance for him, out of his own free will and choice, to devote two years of his life helping and teaching others. Sharing our Savior's message of love, mercy, and redemption with others because of the miraculous and marvelous way it's blessed his own life. This is a small sacrifice of ours in the grand scheme of things.
Discipleship is made manifest by our own ministering.
We give when we love. We give because we are given much. And we grow and we stretch and we become better people when we engage in this loving, this giving, this sacrificing.
I'm grateful for the better person I've become, and hope to become, because of this gift of giving. Going through my own pain, suffering, and refiner's fire is sometimes the only way to understand, help, and truly love another. (And isn't that what Christ did?) I'm so pleased that my son is the type of individual that wants this gift, this growth, and this understanding in his life, as well.
Even when it's not an easy thing to do.
So we can, and we will, and we must smile, even through the tears, and thank God for the chance to learn the greatest lesson we can learn in this life:
How to love.
What it means to love.