Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Am a Childless Child of God…

So, I’ve been thinking of my spinster-ly status lately.

I think because I just had my 34th birthday and I’ve been feeling my age these last couple of days. (Most of the time, I don’t feel my age. I feel about 25.)

And I’ve been thinking about where I thought I would be at 34 and what I thought I’d be doing. (Don’t we all do this to some extent?)

And as you can imagine, I didn’t think I’d be doing the single and childless thing.

No, I thought by 34 I’d be almost done having kids. At the very least, I thought I’d be in the middle of having kids. I certainly didn’t think the closest I’d be to having kids was standing next to someone else’s!

For the most part, this hasn’t bothered me. I’ve loved continuing my education, exploring my artistic side, writing, traveling, deeply studying the gospel, and a host of other activities that I’ve done to create a fulfilling life.

I’ve had opportunities to serve, to love, to laugh, and, thanks to my nephews, to mother.

And I’ve rarely felt bummed at church.

I read a statement in a book by Sister Oaks that perfectly sums up my feelings. It was something like “I signed up for the WHOLE gospel, not the singles’ edition.” So lessons on families, marriage, or any other similar topic don’t offend me or make me sad. I know the church is true—even if at this time, it’s not all “true” for me.

But, there are times when I think of my younger self and all the plans I had of being a wonderful mother, and an awesome (and I do mean awesome) wife. And these times are hard.

And tears are shed.

And “Why not me?” is asked.

And the only thing that comforts me is the spirit whispering that my life is just as valid as the next; that I’m on the Lord’s errand, and that He’s proud of me.

This past Sunday was one of those hard times.

I was teaching my Beehives a lesson on their Divine role as women. I asked them what they thought that role was.

And how do you think they responded?

“To be a wife and mother.” Yep.

And then I asked, “Is that the divine role of all women?”

“Yes,” they answered.

And I followed that with “What about me? I'm not married, and I don’t have children. Does that mean I’m not fulfilling my divine role?”

Silence.




Yep, this Sunday was a tough one.

12 comments:

Liv said...

i AM a wife but i don't always feel like i'm fulfilling a divine calling. i have always disliked the extreme emphasis on being a wife and mother. i value those roles (and hope to be a mother someday), but i don't think there's enough emphasis put on just being a good PERSON. sometimes we wear different hats, but if those hats change, we have to strive to be the best we can through all the transitions.

young women classes always made me upset. i never thought i'd get married. i never thought i'd have kids. so i always struggled through those lessons.

i wish i'd had a teacher like you then. someone who dared ask "what if." it would have made me feel so much better.

thank you for sharing!

Rachel said...

Amen to all of this. And pass the tissue

So what did you tell the girls?

Liz W. said...

Rachel,

What I ended up asking them was “Do all women make good mothers?”

“No.”

“Then what makes a good mother?”

They gave answers like “kind,” “loving,” “forgiving,” “helpful,” “supportive,” “giving” etc.

Then I asked them, “So being a mother is MORE than just having children?”

“Yes.”

“It’s about the qualities she possesses, right?”

“Yes.”

“So, do you think a woman can develop those qualities without having children?”

“Yes.”

“Then maybe our divine role is about developing Godlike qualities of motherhood, which can be done by having children, but also by looking for opportunities to reach out to others?”

“Yes!”

They got it, eventually. But the silence still stung.

Laura said...

You know I feel you on this one, but don't have the same attitude as you about overcoming it all. I can see how that would have been a very hard lesson to teach. I think you handled it well with those follow up questions.

thefoxkids said...

I too wish I had a Beehive leader like you!! I have had to wonder allot about our Divine rolls lately (THANK YOU for your AWESOME post on my blog by the way!) I think one of the Hardest things about our mortal world is that there is no crystal balls... I hope and pray that someday the reasons for all of our heart ache (no matter what it is) will become clear that the lessons we learn by over comming these thigs have prepared us for what ever we have to face here or in the Life to come.. You are an amazing woman and I think you handled your lesson EXACTLY the right way and I also know Beehives won't always be able to express how thankful they are but some day when they are older and maybe not even in your same situation they will remember your lesson and a light bulb will have gone off and the'll realize they learned a GREAT lesson!!!
hugs!

Sheba's Mommy said...

Oh, don't I know how you feel! I am turning 35 this month and am not married and childless. I have gone over this situation MANY times in my head, but am just now getting to have the attitude that if it is to come, it will come in the Lord's time, and to just concentrate on progressing myself. I think you are doing the right things and have taught your Beehive's well. I love you!

Sheba's Mommy said...

Hey again Liz, just thought I'd tell you I was in the area of your old neighborhood and I went and passed by your house where you used to live. It was pretty cool, brought back old memories!

-Chelsea

Amanda said...

I taught this same lesson the other week and I'm glad that marriage wasn't the focus of ours. I've always been such a fan of living a wonderful and full life single or married. Our lesson revolved around the idea of doing to become. We do certain things and in turn become someone new. Thankfully the girls really got it. We read some scriptures and they gave really thoughtful responses to what they would become if they lived certain principles. I considered it a miracle lesson. I'm sorry that it was a hard day for you. I've been having some hard days lately for he opposite reason. I am so motivated to do some major life overhauling and don't have the time to do it because I'm at this new stage in my life. Don't get me wrong, I love little Nathan, but my time is no longer my own. Hope this week is better. Love you!

Liz W. said...

Amanda, I love the way to discussed this lesson!!

If I could have a "do over" and use your ideas...

Ah-der said...

Oh--I love you!
I've been thinking about this too, but in a different way. I've got a million nieces and nephews that I treat as my own kids (my Monkey-Moo always picks me second only to his mom), and I had a lecture in class yesterday that made me almost glad I probably won't be having kids (at least not for a while).
I've enjoyed doing new things, and learning and growing and all that...but I'm pretty needy and I just wish I had someone by my side through it all.

Gina said...

I'm a little late in posting, but I have something to say (of course).

Of course our divine role is that of wife and mother, but not everyone will fulfill that on earth. But I think even more so than being a wife and mother is being a woman who lives the YW values. OK...that sounds cheesy, I know. But, think about it. A woman who is faithful, virtuous, has integrity, understands her divine nature, makes good choices and understands accountability, strives to learn all she can, provides service, and so forth is fulfilling her divine role. Liz, you are fulfilling your divine role given by Heavenly Father.

People who think that their divine role is only being a wife and a mother should be a teacher. That way they can see all the whacked out moms in the world who continue to procreate. Honestly! It's much more than that. :)

Stepping off now...

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