January 2, 2017
Growing up I have been very pleased to have two wonderful parents who are very spiritual people. They have always shared their experiences with me and have taught me a lot. Today I asked my mother to write for the blog, and to talk about how she feels about me being on a mission. I hope that this post today will help somebody. I might ask others to write for my blog as well in the future.
Without further ado, here is my mother:
Alex asked me to write about how I feel about Alex being on a LDS mission. I reluctantly accepted. Reluctant because I would much rather hear from Alex. He is the missionary after all.
I am not sure how being a mother of a missionary differs greatly from being a mom of a freshman at college or in the Peace Corp or things like that. Sure, I do not get to talk to Alex except on Christmas and Mother’s Day. But from talking to friends whose sons are at university I don’t think I am missing out on a lot of conversation. It turns out that young men newly sprung from the confines of home don’t call their mothers nearly enough.
Instead I will mention a few things about mothering in general.
I expect my son to learn and grow—on his mission, in school, in life. I expect Alex to do his best and try his hardest at everything he does. And I expect that he will mess up or fail frequently. When that happens, I expect him to pick himself up, dust himself off and try again.
I have this saying that I would recite to my kids to try and motivate them. “When you do your best, your best gets better.” I have no idea where this phrase comes from or where I first heard it, but I would recant this saying as often I as could hoping it would have an impact. I wanted my kids to understand that improvement requires effort, steady effort over time and pushing ourselves to do our best strengthens us. I hope that when Alex gets home from his mission he has applied this principle to his life and strengthened his compassion, faith, love, knowledge, wisdom and work ethic. I hope he learns to not shy away from a challenge.
I do not worry about how he is doing. I am sure he is getting enough to eat and has a warm, dry, and hopefully clean place to live. I admit that I have occasionally looked up what the weather is like in Ogden, but not more than once or twice. Sure, there are dangers out there, but Alex would face most of the same dangers at university or at home. I am glad—no—I am extremely happy that he chose to serve.
And I really hope that he is SERVING. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon about service that goes like this: I tell you these things that you might learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17) I hope Alex learns to forget about himself and focus on others. Learning to forget himself and help others will serve him well for the rest of his life. Jesus Christ taught this when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s sake, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35).
Raising children reminds me of the myths where the hero tries to capture a shape-shifting god to gain some boon. The hero grabs hold of the god, who instantly changes form—horse, bull, snake, goat. Only the hero who could hold on through all the changes receives the reward. Believe me, there have been times during these years of mothering when it was all I could do to keep holding on. But then you get to the point where the rapid and wild changing stops. It is time to let go; and instead of the tiny infant you held to your chest all those years ago, you are looking at a man. Fully grown and confident. And you have your reward.
With regards, from Chapel Hill