Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Tribute to the Titus 2 Ladies

I used to have some negative feelings about mothers and motherhood.  I felt very similar to those sentiments expressed by Ceci in her post, The Other Side of the Fence.  It's rather odd, though, that I felt this way because I had (and still have) a fantastic mother who I believe loved (loves) being a mother!  I've always tried to determine where I picked up these attitudes, and still can't quite figure it out.

After I had my first child, I began to realize the true value of mothers and the huge sacrifice they make.  I realized how amazing they are.  I realized that those girls who dropped out of college, or who never even went so that they could marry and start families were often incredibly humble to do God's will and not pursue personal interests.  I was too proud to even want to do that.  The opportunity didn't present itself at that stage of my life, but if it did, I hope I would have chosen the family route, but I'm just not sure I could have done it.  I think the falling in love and romance was an easy thing, but it's the responsibilities (children) that come after, that I wasn't too keen on.

I was very well set on being a stay-at-home mom once children came, so that's what I did.  I felt those children needed me more than anything else.  However, because I had those previously mentioned bad attitudes, it made it more difficult to feel personal value as a stay-at-home mom.

I knew there were women in the world who really, really enjoyed staying home with their kids, so why couldn't I?  I started looking into LDS literature on the topic of mothering, but just found all the reasons I should have kids and all the things I should do, but no in-depth examples of women who were actually living examples of a mother who really loved staying home with her kids.  I wanted to get inside the head of women who loved being home and let them rub off on me.

Eventually, through some sewing projects I met some Christian ladies on-line who seemed to love staying home, raising children, and being domestic.  As I learned more about these ladies I realized these women knew their Bibles and diligently studied them; they honored their husbands; they even homeschooled their kids!; they avoided worldliness and tried to live self-sufficiently; they accepted as many children as God would send them; they were a family team.  (I'm sure that's a very broad generalization, but that was the feel I got.)  I found they always referred to "Titus 2" and Biblical Womanhood, and I had no idea what they were talking about. 

I looked up Titus 2 and found (vs. 2-5):

The aged women likewise [sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience], that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,  To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

These women actually lived what Paul said in Titus!  Some of the women blogged, some of them had books. I bought one of their books: Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.  I realized I wanted to think more like these Titus 2 women and wondered why many of us in the LDS Church aren't more like them.  Today I re-read Julie Beck's talk, Mothers Who Know and realized we are, or should be in many cases, more like these Titus 2 ladies.

Julie Beck reminds us:
  • "The responsibility mothers have today has never required more diligence."
  • We "desire to bear children" and "we still believe in having children."
  • We "are nurturers. . . [we] cultivate, care for, and make grow."
  • We "create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in [our] homes."  
  • "Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work."
  • We are homemakers and "teach and model qualities children should emulate."  
  • We should have a house of order.
  • We are knowledgeable.
  • We are leaders in equal partnership with our husbands.  
  • We plan for the future.
  • We do not abandon our plans for the future "by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting."
  • We are "selective about [our] own activities and involvement to conserve [our] limited strength in order to maximize [our] influence where it matters most."
  • We "permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally."  
  • We "allow less media in [our] homes, less distraction, less activity that draws [our] children away from [our] home."
  • We "are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with [our] children."
  • We "choose carefully and do not try to choose it all."
  • Our "goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world."
  • Our "goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom."
  • We "do not give up during difficult and discouraging times."
So, I am ever grateful to the Titus 2 ladies who have rubbed off on me and helped me be a better and more fulfilled Latter-day Saint mother.

We've come a long way

A while back I listened to the Legacy broadcast regarding W. W. Phelps.  It was interesting to me to learn more about women and their cultural context in the 1830s.

It was recorded that W. W. Phelps was overbearing toward his wife (around minute 17:30); in those days, stemming from the Puritan tradition, "men ruled the home," and this was also common in the Church.  "Women had little voice in the church -- it was a very rare thing for a woman to stand out and be heard and be listened to on her own. . . . As revelations have continued in these latter days, we can see how important that harmony and equality is between a man and a woman in the marriage covenant.  It was not as fully grasped in those days."

I'd love to write up some examples of how women gained a voice over time and how women's organizations, including the Relief Society, assisted in this effort, but I don't think I can take the time!  I just love, though, that the women did gain a voice and we continue to have that voice and respect today.

Spiritual Education and Knowledge

I read Motherhood and Education by Rachell and just loved what she said regarding Julie Beck's thoughts on knowledge and education:

. . .“Mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. . . . Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth” (italics added). Here, Sister Beck states that nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but recognizes that unless women know how to create a climate in their home where their eternal posterity can grow both temporally and spiritually, any amount of education is futile. I would submit that as Latter-day Saint women, we should keep this in mind. Our education is useless if we do not know how to invite and maintain the Spirit in our homes. The purpose of our education, as I interpret it from this statement from Sister Beck, is secondary to spiritual knowledge and application. Therefore, the aim of our education should be to aid us in creating an atmosphere in our homes and families where the Spirit can dwell and teach our families. Consequently, I would suggest that if our education, or any other pursuit (spending inordinate amounts of time reading, or cleaning, or cooking, or blogging, or whatever) is taking away from our ability to create homes where the Spirit prevails, then we have wasted our time seeking whatever education we have obtained.