|Atlanta Temple, 5/24/02|
Sister Barbara B. Smith (former general Relief Society president), taught that the Relief Society should teach "women to build a home based on gospel principles." She said that a home such as this was possible for a woman who lives alone or one who has a family. The home can become a "place of warmth and renewal for all who enter."
“It is often said to me that the ideal is too much to strive for, because in falling short of perfection there is too much pain, too much sorrow, too much guilt. But it is the responsibility of the Church and its leaders to teach correct principles. Each individual must apply those principles as best he can—trying, failing, repenting, trying again, and finally succeeding.“The purpose of the Church is not to condemn or discourage. Instead, the Church gives us identity and direction, stars to steer by. The purpose of the Church’s instruction on homemaking is to develop homes where people gain compassion, refinement, and moral strength. The kingdom of God is made up of sovereign individuals who use their agency to choose to live the laws of heaven. This is the way to exaltation. Eternal truths are best taught and immortal lives are best shaped in a good home. What a challenge it is to be the maker of such a home!” (“Makers of Homes,” Ensign, Mar. 1979, 24)
The words of Barbara B. Smith are more than thirty years old, but are still inspiring to me as I read them again. They give me strength as a stay-at-home-mom homemaker. Everyone can be a homemaker whether they stay at home and whether they have children or not. But to be both in this day and age is truly daunting. I heard recently that 89% of all women are in the workforce of some kind. That left little more than a measly 10% that stay at home. This choice has often left me feeling lonely, especially if one lives where few women stay at home. There have been times where I lived in areas where being a stay-at-home mom homemaker was the “norm” or maybe even the concept was becoming “popular” again as many women were leaving their careers to raise their children.
I also could relate to Sister Smith’s comments about becoming discouraged. Just this morning I woke up feeling like I have probably failed, to some degree, at every single thing I have ever tried to do. I was seriously depressed by this fact. I decided I needed to break out the scriptures and read next Sunday’s lesson. This reminds me of excellent advice by Florence S. Jacobsen, “Just before bedtime prayers, evaluate each day. Make plans for tomorrow that will move you toward your long-range goal. Strive for a close partnership with God in making your dreams come true.”
After spiritual renewal from the scriptures, I gained some perspective. Yes, I have failed. I do not know of anything I have undertook, especially as a wife, mother, and homemaker, (not to mention sister, friend, and Christian), where I have not achieved the desired results I was hoping for.
I suppose the Holy Ghost began to stir me to remembrance that much of my so-called “failure” was not necessarily all due to me, since everyone has free agency and we cannot control others. Besides, even if I tried and essentially failed, I was better off and further along than had I not tried at all. In a way, this could be considered "success."
It is this Hope that the Spirit fills me with that keeps me going. Perhaps this self-doubt helps me to see personal flaws that need correcting—providing the humbling needed for “repenting, trying again, and finally succeeding.” ...And enduring to the end.