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Seeking Spiritual Strength as a Mother
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For Mothers of Young Children

Seeking Spiritual Strength as a Mother

I felt like I was messing up not only as a mom but as a daughter of God—until I learned to look at things a little differently.

Emotions and feelings. Children. Male

Photograph by Stephanie Woodward

My toddler’s voice woke me up through our baby monitor, and I squinted to find the time on the alarm clock. It was 5:47 a.m. Approximately 13 minutes before my alarm would actually go off. Approximately 43 minutes before I’d hoped my son would actually wake up.

I rolled over and contemplated how long he would last playing by himself in his room, but suddenly I realized he was whimpering: “Mom, open the door. Mom, open the door.” Not long at all today.

I sighed, trying to fight down my anger and exhaustion as I fumbled for my glasses and made my way over to his room. I couldn’t help but think that my plans for the day were already ruined.

I’d been struggling for months to keep my scripture study habits consistent. Just the night before, I had committed myself to waking up before my toddler—something that was especially hard lately now that I was pregnant again—to carve out at least 15 minutes to read from the standard works. I craved the blessings and strength I knew would come from putting the Lord first each day through praying and studying to strengthen my testimony of and love for Him.

I tried not to cry or scream when I discovered my son’s messy diaper and realized I wouldn’t be convincing him to stay quietly in his room for just a little bit longer. My day had officially started, and a peaceful scripture study session was looking less and less likely to happen.

In my mind, I wasn’t just messing up as a mom—I was messing up as a daughter of God.

Finding Spiritual Strength through Service

Despite my incredible love of being a mother, I was feeling trapped by my responsibilities and unable to progress, especially spiritually. However, my perspective changed one day with a visit from a loving mentor.

As I explained the changes I was trying to make in my life to simply study my scriptures in the morning, my friend wisely pointed out that finding time for myself was good. But scripture study was only one way to find spiritual strength for my day.

Being a mother, she explained, is all about serving. It’s one of the most selfless things we can do, and it’s a sacred ministry. All the time we take to change the diapers, to rock our babies back to sleep, to negotiate how many snacks our toddler should eat each day, is time when we can serve with love. These everyday struggles to raise children can help us develop Christlike attributes (patience, anyone?) and grow our spiritual capacity to receive revelation.

A Season of Sacrifice

As Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught in the October 2021 general conference: “We take the Savior’s yoke upon us as we learn about, worthily receive, and honor sacred covenants and ordinances. We are bound securely to and with the Savior as we faithfully remember and do our best to live in accordance with the obligations we have accepted. And that bond with Him is the source of spiritual strength in every season of our lives.”1

The well-known verses in Ecclesiastes 3 are true; we all have different phases in our lives, and motherhood is certainly a phase of sacrifice (see verses 1–8). I’ve had previous phases of my life when I studied the scriptures for an hour or two in the morning, and that was wonderful! But the hours I now spend nurturing young souls can also be a spiritually edifying experience.

My daily struggle to balance my toddler’s needs with mine took on a completely new light. Sure, I still wasn’t always cheerful about his habit of waking up every day by 6:30 a.m. But I learned that the Lord would truly help me have joy regardless of my circumstances (see 2 Nephi 2:25) and become more like Christ as I sought for His grace to help me mother my child. He wasn’t disappointed in me for only getting so many minutes or verses of scriptures in each day. He was proud of me for giving my son the time and love he needs.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on trying to find time every day to read from the scriptures. In fact, this lesson has reminded me that I have incredible tools I can take advantage of throughout the day to build even more on the spiritual experiences I’m having as a mother. I can pray at any minute of the day, even if I’m half asleep. I can listen to the scriptures, general conference talks, and religious podcasts on my phone while I make breakfast or clean the bathroom. The Lord has “prepare[d] a way” (1 Nephi 3:7) for me to keep all of His commandments.

This may not be a time in my life when I get to write down pages and pages of notes in my study journals about gospel principles, but it is a time when I can spend hours and hours applying and practicing gospel principles in my interactions with my family. And through all the ups and downs, I know the Lord “will be on [my] right hand and on [my] left … to bear [me] up” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).