Brad’s Mother’s Day Talk

Bradley K. Barrett……….May 9, 2021

I’m trying to be like Jesus.  Are you?  Great!  I hope you are a little more successful than I.  The word “trying” is a big word for me in that children’s primary hymn.

I hope it’s not a surprise to any of you that today is Mother’s Day.  I have learned that Mother’s Day is not always a favorite day for many women.  That might be a new concept to some of you fathers and sons in the audience.  

I learned that fact as a newly called bishop about thirty years ago from a very enlightened Relief Society president.  With about 2 months under my belt as a young thirty-something Bishop, she wanted me to inspire mothers who felt completely inadequate in their motherly roles.  

Many of them would avoid church on Mothers Day Sunday due to their feelings about motherhood.

How could they feel that way on the very day they were so honored?

After all, didn’t those red and white carnations they were handed after Sacrament Meeting speak volumes about the love and high regard we had for them?

Weren’t those beautiful sacrament talks about Mothers enough to convince them?  Weren’t the breakfasts in bed of lumpy oatmeal and burnt toast enough?

“Of course, I would love to come,” I told the Relief Society President.  I love being in the presence of saintly women.  Even announcing a week in advance that the Bishop would be at Relief Society with a special Mother’s Day message to uplift all who would attend didn’t help.  Attendance was predictably low.  The women who really needed to hear my message didn’t come.

I’ve never been given that assignment again.  But I have often reflected on how I would give that Mother’s Day message if given another chance.  

First of all, I would change the audience.  I would have the discussion, not with the sisters, but with the Priesthood quorums.  Maybe all the way down to the Deacon’s quorum.

You see, the women already knew my message.  In fact, they could have facilitated the discussion better than I and also added a few nuggets of understanding for me to pass on to the men in their lives. 

*They knew that they were loved.  They just wanted to have a discussion about the definition of love.

*They knew they were expected to be nurturers.  But they also needed nurturing once in awhile themselves.

*Women are our carriers, from conception to the end of their lives.  They just want us to know that the load gets heavy and they could use a little help once in awhile.

*They feel like they are vying for Mother-of-the-Year honors every minute of their lives AND they feel that their competition, the sisters in the Church, are eons ahead of them and everyone knows it.  So why try anymore?

*Speaking of giving up, many mothers have abandoned their personal hopes and dreams in life long ago so that the rest of the family could achieve their hopes and dreams.  

Will there ever be a time when we family members put our own ambitions in slow motion enough to not just encourage but provide the time and means to allow the women in our lives to develop long forsaken talents, find  meaningful friends to pursue hobbies with, continue their education, follow their contributing passions?

Of course, raising a righteous family is fulfilling.  Of course, mothers want to be at the crossroads for all family members.  They have been taught that that is their role and they have accepted the challenge. 

But children have their agency—that complicated and sometimes unfortunate doctrine—and when unwisely used it can create difficult situations for mothers and fathers alike as they try to raise that perfect family.

  Moms, however, often take their children’s agency growing pains more seriously than dads do.  And Mother’s Day is just another reminder of that.

Back to the theme of Trying to be like Jesus:

One of my personal desires is to do just that—try to be like Jesus.  Just so I could know Him better, I have tried to inform myself on how Jesus conducted His personal life in Nazareth where He grew up and spent most of His life.  It was a very difficult life being an itinerant laborer traveling from village to village to eke out a living for His family.

Any number of historians and authors document that Jesus was part of a world of the Greek, Roman, and Hebrew cultures that did not value the status of women.  A low view of women was common before, during and after Jesus’ time.

Jesus’ high regard for women was considered “revolutionary” for His time.  It was not however out of sync with what we know.  His Father and Mother in Heaven taught Him in His time with them.  He learned how to create the world we have all come to and the Plan of Salvation we are all striving to follow.  

We were all taught by our Heavenly Parents in the same setting with Jesus, the truths that we read in the Family Proclamation:  

“Each person is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” 

What an enlightening piece of information to build our lives on!  

Knowing what we know about the doctrine of having a Heavenly Mother, the creation scripture in Genesis makes much more sense.  It teaches “…… the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” 

Don’t think for a moment that Heavenly Father did not rely heavily on Heavenly Mother in the creation of their sons and daughters in their image.

I picture a Heavenly Mother who, with the insight of an all knowing Heavenly Spouse, was put in the highest councils related to the formation of the physical and eternal plans and practices of an earth that would house Her spiritual children. 

I picture Her as a confident and loving companion to the Father of our spirits.  I also picture a confident and loving Heavenly Father who lost no stature by including Her in the development of the divine Plan that governs us all.  Each of them knew and valued each other’s divine nature and destiny. 

Even though these lessons were forgotten and not practiced by the Children of Men, God’s treatment of women and the development of their divine destiny is documented in the Old and New Testaments.

For example:

*Mother Eve was arguably a bigger player in the initiation of the Plan of Salvation within the Garden of Eden than was Adam.  Heavenly Father made sure of that.

In Jesus’ time, men having public discussions with women was very much not in keeping with the customs of the day.  


*The woman at Jacob’s well was not just a woman but a Samaritan woman at that.  The Messiah himself engaged her in public discourse and publicly taught her eternal lessons while at the well.  She and His disciples “marveled and wondered” about Jesus’ departure from the accepted cultural ways of the day. 

Other women were also acknowledged by Jesus publicly:

*the woman with a bleeding disorder

*the woman who called to Him from a crowd

*the group of bereaving women who walked with Him with His cross en route to Calvary.

These acts of kindness were not appreciated but ridiculed by the masses.  It is hard to imagine, however, the feeling of personal fulfillment in their lives as “mere” women having public conversations with Jesus the Christ.

Can you imagine the feelings of inadequacy that were removed because they were paid attention to by the Son of God?

The women of that day were not able to develop a sense of spiritual self-reliance.  Any spiritual growth was dependent on the men in their lives.

Jesus, however, acknowledged women and their right to exercise personal agency on their own.  He taught the women and those who witnessed His interactions with them, that women did not have the need for a male intermediary for the development of their own personal self-reliance.  He gave them the personal responsibility of repenting and seeking forgiveness on their own.  This was a very new concept back then.  

The Samaritan woman at the well, the adulteress and even the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet were to be equal with men by being taught how to be spiritually self-reliant as were their husbands in the synagogs.  All of these women were forgiven of their sins and commanded to “go and sin no more.”

This doesn’t sound like much today but given the practices of Jesus’ time, it was a big deal.  Women and the men in their lives were taught eternal truths through the example of the Messiah about the divine nature and destiny of all of God’s spirit children.

Dear sisters, I am not trying to say that the obstacles that kept women from realizing their divine nature and worth today are the same as they were when Jesus walked the earth. 

Thankfully, we have progressed in our culture enough that women can have open conversations in public with men.  Of course we acknowledge that women are equal to men in exercising personal agency.  They can sin and repent on their own, having an assurance that spiritual self-reliance is an attainable and desirable state of spirituality open to all of God’s children equally. 

Jesus’ showed his high regard and love for women by defying established customs. He walked with, talked with and taught women in public.  He knew the divine nature and destiny of a Mary Magdelene.  She became one of His most loyal disciples. 

You know what, sisters?  He knows and loves you that well, too.  He and our Father and Mother in Heaven know your divine nature and destiny and they love you.  They know your worth!  Do you?  Are you convinced of that love?  Can you use that knowledge to get through this and many more Mother’s Days?

There are cultural behaviors in all parts of the world that would be different if the world knew the doctrine of the divine destiny and worth of mothers and women. 

Jesus has left that chore to us.  What chore you ask?  To remind God’s daughters of their divine worth and encourage them to pursue activities that are in line with their divine destiny.

In our home, the encouragement to discover and then pursue divine nature and destiny has become the task of the matriarch of our family, my children’s mother.  

What a task for her to teach us all the lessons Jesus taught the women in His life.  We Barretts are a tough and stubborn bunch.

  But, like Jesus, her example is what we need to progress through the hard things in life and keep our eyes fixated on our personal and family destiny.  

She has a lot and you sisters have a lot to teach us.  We promise to be better “revolutionaries” and practice what you preach to us.  

Happy Divine Destiny Day!  We love you and we really mean it this time.  Please give us another chance!