13 May 2008

Mother's Day Thought--Seeing Alma 55-56 Differently

During sacrament meeting on Mother's Day, during the annual recitation of the passages in Alma 55-56 about Helaman's 2000 sons and the faith of their mothers, I had an interesting thought. I wondered, for the first time, what percentage of all the sons of the "people of Ammon" the 2000 constituted. It seems highly unlikely that all of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi sons enlisted in Helaman's army, leaving us with the enlightening understanding that when we praise the mothers (and fathers) of these brave boys, we praise them despite the "failings" of those absent sons.
By this, I mean that the fact that some of these parents may have raised sons who did not engage in this overt and visible "success" does not diminish their stature as righteous mothers and fathers. Our praise for them, which has become such a part of our Mother's Day commemorations, is just as valid as it ever has been--even when we recognize that they may not have achieved 100% "success" as we or they may have defined it.
In the same manner, we might think about how those parents would have been accutely aware of the sons who did not participate in this act of bravery, perhaps even thinking that they had failed as parents. These wonderful converts and their sons, both enlisted and not, teach us not only of the positive influence that parents can exert, of which righteous children can testify; they also teach us that in our own feelings of inadequacy as parents we can take comfort, knowing that our perceived failings will pale in comparison to the overarching successes we will achieve. In this way, the story of the stripling warriors can be a comfort for those who feel guilt or remorse on Mother's Day, reminding them that the Church honors all parents who truly seek to provide righteous parenting--not just the few (if any) parents who may feel that they have achieved perfection in parenting.
***Disclaimer: As much as we desire for parenthood, my wife and I have not yet been blessed with children. As such, my authority on a topic such as this is limited to my experiences as a son and as a husband preparing to become a father in the due time of the Lord.

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