I am on fire with belief.
A desire to know my Savior and build a relationship with Him fuels my life. I’ve made solemn covenants and strive to honor them in all I do. I believe He has called prophets and they speak His truth. I believe in the ongoing restoration and eagerly long for more. More truth, more love, more progression. In all things, I aim to align myself with my Lord and His church. Every time the choice has come down to my own understanding and His narrow path, I’ve put one foot in front of another and kept going.
It has been confirmed to me time and time again that this is the best course of action I can take in the midst of life’s traumas and tribulations. I also know many who find it difficult to say they believe the same. I wholeheartedly desire to help those who may be struggling to walk another step feel strengthened so that they “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:20).
That’s why I’d like to take a moment, in what I hope will be a loving and Spirit-led space, to talk about hungering after Heavenly Mother and how we can do so in a way that honors the counsel of our inspired leaders.
Hungering After Heavenly Mother
One of the greatest wrestles of my life has been my battle against the total alteration of my perception of a loving Heavenly Father because of what mortal men have done. I have been violently abused and emotionally denigrated. The various traumas, so neatly summed up in that short sentence, spanned decades and have made trusting and embracing a male deity a seemingly insurmountable challenge for me.
While I recognize this is ultimately a human frailty of my own and does not reflect on the true nature of a compassionate and perfect Father, I have compassion for the little girl I once was, receiving a priesthood blessing from the same hands that also punched her and wondering why her mother couldn’t do it instead.
I have worked tirelessly my entire life to repair my understanding of my Father in Heaven. I have tasted of His love and even though I am broken in a way that doesn’t often let me experience it how I wish, I know that love is real and exalting. However, I also know what it is like to resonate with the safety of a Mother when the world presented by the Father seems so vicious.
There are many reasons why a woman might hunger after a connection with her Heavenly Mother. I know the times I have felt a pull towards Her have come from two opposite ends—when I have felt most powerless as a woman and when I’ve felt the most powerful. I can’t speak for all women and their reasons, but I give grace to them all and I hope you can do the same.
A desire to know more about Mother in Heaven isn’t inherently wrong or shameful, even if there are boundaries to how we act on that desire. I believe we would be more aligned with our Savior if, when women expressed any desire for their Mother, those who love them would prove just how powerful the love of the Father can be in their waiting space.
This can never take place if we demean, criticize, or bully those trying to make sense of how the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother fits into the Savior’s teaching that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
A Holy Pursuit & the “Means [God] Has Established”
I sustain Elder Dale G. Renlund as a prophet, seer, and revelator. I do not believe his recent words on Heavenly Mother, available to read here, were designed to hurt women or pull us back into what some may call “sacred silence.” I believe they were meant to as he said: caution and counsel. And just because we have been given counsel on how to approach Her that does not mean it is a call to retreat. I believe the search for Mother in Heaven can be a holy pursuit.
Elder Renlund taught that we must “wait on the Lord in His timetable to reveal His truths through the means that He has established.” What are these means God has established? How can we righteously work within them to be part of an ongoing restoration of truth, including knowledge of Heavenly Mother?
As we know from other modern-day teachings from prophets, waiting on the Lord is anything but passive. In my experience, if we are being asked to wait, we are being asked to work. As Sister Rebecca L. Craven taught just a few minutes before Elder Renlund spoke, “If you want to know anything, you have to do something.” After studying Elder Renlund’s words and prayerfully seeking inspiration for those women who currently feel ostracized and diminished, I’d like to suggest a few ways you might seek more understanding about Heavenly Mother.
Honoring Truth & Actively Participating
There have been times in my life when I’ve been frustrated because I believed the Lord ought to give us more revelation as a church. When I’ve had these feelings, the Lord has been patient and loving with me. He has also always invited me to become a more active participant in His work.
“What are you doing with what I’ve already given you?” He asks me. “How do you honor the truth you have?”
Every time, there has always been something I can improve upon, something I can do with more joy and fervor to build His kingdom. Here are a few teachings that might help clarify what I’m saying:
What more might the Lord be willing to give us if we are humble and willing to change rather than resistant? – Elder Paul V. Johnson
Thus, just as there will be many more Church members, families, wards, stakes, and temples—later on, there will also be many more nourishing and inspiring scriptures. However, we must first feast worthily upon that which we already have! – Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon eternal, unchanging principles. We receive help from our Father in Heaven in response to our faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency. – Elder Richard G. Scott
Now, this isn’t to say we must reach some arbitrary level of obedience in order to convince God we are worthy of more revelation like an indifferent taskmaster doles out sips of water on a hot summer day. Rather, it is a deeply personal question about the love we have for Him and how we are doing as God’s people in building Zion. I have felt empowered and more worthy for increased revelation, both in my personal life and for hopeful future Church-wide revelations, when I’ve thrust in my sickle with my might.
I imagine millions of worthy women continually and increasingly dedicating their lives to the cause of Jesus Christ. When this happens, I believe in the promise Joseph Smith gave to those first Relief Society sisters:
You are now placed in a situation where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles how great and glorious!—if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.
Likewise, I believe that the heavens cannot remain closed as we live up to our privileges and embrace God’s work with zeal and commitment.
Creative Expressions of Heavenly Mother
I love Eliza R. Snow! She was an early champion for women in the Church and a lover of the written word. Known as “Zion’s Poetess,” she gave us one of the clearest and most enduring messages about Heavenly Mother. In the poem “O My Father,” she wrote:
In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.
Like Sister Snow, we can experience Heavenly Mother through creative outlets. We can write words, sing songs, and make art. If we don’t feel able to create ourselves, we can enjoy the creations of others. These expressions help us because they simply acknowledge Her reality. The works we create and consume should focus on a testimony of her existence and the things we know of Her and not seek to speculate on the things yet to be revealed.
Personal Revelation & Pleading
We cannot demand revelation for the Church, as Elder Renlund taught us. That would be arrogant. However, we can seek personal revelation to expand our own understanding.
Sister Sharon Eubank once said, “I have Divine Parents and so that means that I belong to their household of God and I have rights and privileges and blessings that are associated with being their child. And one of those rights and blessings is that nothing can separate me from my communication with them. There is no intermediary. I have the right, as their daughter, to communicate with them through prayer and revelation and the Holy Ghost. They don’t put anybody in-between. And so it means that they are teaching me and I can seek and they promise that I will find. I can ask and they promise ‘You will receive.’ I am a daughter and I am hungry for knowledge and wisdom and information and progression. That is why I am here on the earth, because I am hungry for those kinds of things.”
I think it’s important to note that I do not believe that Sister Eubank is saying we should pray to our Heavenly Mother, as Elder Renlund counseled against. I do believe she is saying that the heavens are opened to us and our Heavenly Parents and our Savior are working only for our good. We can receive personal revelation for our lives and a deeper connection with Them.
Ask your questions to your Father in Heaven in prayer. Seek to know His nature and especially the nature of Christ. Through them, we will also better understand Her. We can also privately pray to the Lord for more understanding as a Church and increased capacity as a people to receive more of His word.
Finding Heavenly Mother in Myself
In the moments I have most wondered where Christ was, I have found Him in myself. I have discovered myself becoming like Him and that has made me feel closer to Him. Ultimately, I believe the best way to discover Heavenly Mother is to be like Her Son.
I know that this topic is tender for many, but I believe we can work together within the bounds the Lord has set to continually feast on eternal truth. It is my humble hope that we can continue to create Zion together and humbly prepare for the day all is revealed in majesty and glory. I feel greatly inadequate in trying to address this and know there is so much more that could be said or felt. But I believe. I believe in a Heavenly Mother and that one day we will know Her. I believe in Christ and in the plan set before us. I believe in staying together, as His people, to joyfully experience all that awaits us. I believe.