These past few months of quarantine, violence, altered schooling, and political fighting amongst friends, catapulted me into a place I have never been. It had some of the characteristics of depression—-a feeling of hopelessness, lack of motivation, high anxiety, and the feeling of being far away from God. However, having dealt with depression in the past, this was a different creature. Lately, I have felt I was in a black hole where I could not feel God, hear the Holy Ghost, or feel as if there was a way out. And I haven’t been all that sad. Just numb—-like my heart was failing me. So, what was this new monster? Here are some things I’ve discovered that have helped.
First, other mothers are dealing with this exact feeling, or lack thereof, all over the world. I think fathers are feeling it, too. I didn’t realize this until an acquaintance on Facebook shared this powerful quote by Sheri Dew, given on December 9, 2003, at Brigham Young University. It was titled, “You Were Born to Lead.” It elicited so many comments from others feeling the truthfulness of this uplifting statement, and how much it helped, that I realized what was happening to me was not an individual experience, but a universal one:
“The last days are not for the faint of heart or the spiritually out of shape. There will be days when you feel defeated, exhausted, and plain old beat-up by life’s whiplash. People you love will disappoint you-and you will disappoint them. You’ll probably struggle with some kind of mortal appetite. Some days it will feel as though the veil between heaven and earth is made of reinforced concrete. And you may even face a crisis of faith. In fact, you can count on trials that test your testimony and your faith.”Sheri Dew, “You Were Born to Lead”
The moment I read this, I felt a powerful confirmation it was true. This is the monster: The Last Days before the return of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As mothers, we are the protectors and sentinels of our homes, keeping out evil, and inviting in that which is holy. Satan wants nothing more than to retire us from our posts and to convince us we are failing miserably, and might as well do something else. Sheri Dew’s statement continues,
“The simple fact is that our Father did not recommend Eve, or Moses, or Nephi or countless other magnificent exemplars for this dispensation—-He recommended you and me. Do you think God would have left the last days to chance by sending men and women He couldn’t count on? A common theme of patriarchal blessings given to men and women your age is that you were sent not because our Father’s most trustworthy children would be needed in the final, decisive battle for righteousness. That is who you are, and it is who you have always been. [. . .]”Sheri Dew, “You Were Born to Lead”
It can be difficult to see ourselves as God does. My three teenagers have all struggled with adjustments to school, friends, and even what college will look like. At times I’ve struggled with the feeling that I was nothing more than a housekeeper in a frat house. I felt I had no more light to give, and it wasn’t making a difference anyway. The Lord knew my heart, though, and my Family History class online provided the way out. As I began searching for my family online, attaching records, and indexing, the light began to break through again. I had a hard time understanding why this was working so well until I realized these feelings had a source.
During the final days before the Savior’s return, Satan will be out in full force. Especially against mothers. I realized that I did not need more self-care, or vacation time, I needed help shielding myself from the feelings of anxiety and stress that were taking me out of commission. President Russell M. Nelson said, “When our hearts turn to our ancestors something changes inside us.” And Richard G. Scott said, when speaking of the power of family history work, “I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life.”
I realized that in doing Family History work—the work of eternity, service, and love—I was opening a conduit of strength into my life. Strength from the God of the universe, who knows perfectly how to help me, and my family. The fog began to clear. I was able to more clearly see my purpose and my divine calling as a mother as being exactly what I was meant for. As mothers, we must hold fast. We are critical to the well-being of not only our families, but our communities, and our world. William Ross Wallace famously wrote, in his poem “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World”:
Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
There is power in knowing how truly vital the roles of mother and father are. There is power in acknowledging Satan can weaken the whole earth by discouraging its mothers. Deuteronomy 20:3-4 says, “[…]Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord, your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, so save you.”
I leave with you my testimony that engaging in family history work will help you. May God both still us, and speed us as we create in our homes a place of refuge, and a place of love felt from generations who came before. God lives, and there is, and forever will be, hope and healing through His son, Jesus Christ.