Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Law of Tithing and Motherhood

View from the kitchen window...so glad I've got a husband who likes spending time with his kids when he gets home.  

For you non Mormons out there, I've included some explanations and links at the bottom of the post.

I had a realization last week:  I would never look at my tithing slip and compare it to anyone else's tithing slip in church.  And if for some reason I did come across a rogue tithing slip (a tithing slip being a piece of paper detailing your monetary contribution for recording purposes), I would never use those numbers to somehow rate which of us was a better person.  My (OK our) 10 percent is not the same as someone else's 10 percent when it comes down to actual numbers.  But whether my 10 percent is meager or kingly in comparison, our contribution is counted the same in the eyes of the Lord.  The idea of comparing how much tithing we pay to somehow compute individual righteousness is absurd.    

So why, oh WHY,  do I try to make these same comparisons in life, specifically in motherhood and think that the result would be any less ridiculous?  For some reason knowing that there are woman who are pregnant with their 3rd child, when their oldest is even younger than Princess Sparkle Pants makes me feel like I'm behind, or at least like I need to explain myself.  And for some reason when I've been a despicable mother who lost her temper, I start cataloging in my head all my mom friends and figuring out who definitely never yells at their kids, and who is more patient and kind and why can't I be more like them...blah, blah, blah.  As if that's even accurate. 

This isn't coming completely out of left field...See Princess Sparkle has finally outgrown her naps, but being a mom who still treasures these daily breaks and reprieves from my lovely yet demanding children I still make her have quiet time in her room while Lamp naps.  I started to feel a gentle, divine nudging that instead of sending her to her room for quiet time, I needed to start spending that time with her.  But I didn't want to make that sacrifice and give up my precious me time!  And then the comparisons start...  See there was this blog I read for a while written by an amazing mother of 11 who was such a great mom her kids urged her to write a blog about parenting and motherhood.  Some of you may know what blog I'm talking about.  Anyway, it was a wonderful, uplifting and encouraging blog.  She gave great advice.  Among the advice she also talked about her experience as a mom.  The woman had 11 kids and talked about how she never really needed a break from them, she was born to do this.  She didn't let babies cry in the middle of the night and just felt they needed to be held.  Even her discipline style was one of love and nurturing rather than strict rules and punishments.  As much as I respected her advice and admired the type of mother she was I came to the realization that we were very different creatures.  I only had 2 kids and I need breaks--daily!  My kids go to bed early for various reasons, but one of them is so I can have "me" time.  And even then I still need time away from my precious babies.  And babies crying in the night?  Don't get me started...  I finally had to conclude that her "10 percent" and my "10 percent" were very different from an outsiders perspective.  

When I think about the story of the Widow's mite in the bible I'm reminded of this same principle, but for the first time finding a different application.  The widow has nothing, she is so poor her contribution is worth less than the value of a penny.  But because she gives everything she has, she is giving so much more than the wealthy men giving much more sizable donations.  I don't want to make excuses for myself when it comes to mothering--there are definitely things I need to improve and sacrifices that I need to make because remember the widow gave all that she had, thus the reason I have started spending quiet time with PSP.  But when I've done my best and appropriately sacrificed I am no longer going to compare my 10 percent to another mothers 10 percent. 


I'm sure I'm not alone in this little comparison game...I'd love to hear your thoughts and lessons learned in regards to comparing ourselves, our lives, to others.  


Tithing is the basic contribution by which Latter-Day Saints fund the activities of the Church.  By revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord stated that members should pay "one-tenth of all their interest [increase] annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever." (D&C 119:4).  See Encyclopedia of Mormonism.       

Account of the Widow's Mite:  Mark 12: 41-44 

12 comments:

  1. What a thoughtful, profound post. I have never thought of tithing this way and will never be able to think about it again without this analogy coming to mind. Thank you. I always told my friend, and I strongly believe, that your kids were sent to you. My kids were sent to me. They need the good and the bad experiences they get in our homes. They need us to be true to who we are and what we can do because the Lord knows us and knows what we can give our children that someone else cannot. Did you guys have a primary program in your ward? My favorite song is: "One in a Million" I teach primary, so I had to hear it a lot and during one of the practices I was so struck by the line: "I'll be what Heavenly Father has in mind for me. I'll be what Heavenly Father has in mind."

    We are truly all one in a million and need to be what Heavenly Father has in mind for us. That is true happiness, I think, realizing who the Lord wants us to be and being content being that person.

    It has taken me a long time to come to this realization. Here are a few snippets: in my family, I was the bossy one. My brother was the fun one, my sister the peacemaker. And I spent my whole life (well 28 years of it) trying to be the peacemaker one, or the funny one. And then I realized - wait, being the bossy one isn't so bad - I get stuff done. If I wasn't around, my family would sit around and not do anything ever. Bossy can be a good thing! I plan awesome parties, I help my household run.

    Example #2: I have three kids. 5, 3, 2. They drive me nuts but I love them. I have to do quiet times if it makes you feel any better because otherwise I would have to curl into a little ball by 3 and cry. I need some time to breathe a bit and have some quiet. But that is not my point. My point is that everyone keeps asking me when I am having #4. Not really an option for several health and different reasons. But somehow I feel inadequate because I am not having 12 kids. I love, love my kids and am so happy with 3. But am I not a righteous enough person that the Lord cannot make me a person that can have 12? No. I have three and I need to do the best job with 3. And that will make me and them happy. Not constantly wishing for more just because others want me to have them. I don't. I think it is meant to be this way. And I feel so blessed.

    I think anyone would look at you with awe and amazement. You have risen to the challenges you have been given, and most of the time you don't even treat them as challenges - just wonderful opportunities for your family. And you clearly LOVE your kids. And what more is there? Really? You are an inspiration to anyone that reads this blog.

    Okay, sorry for making my post as long as yours. What a lame commenter :)

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  2. I am not typically one to comment, but I really enjoy your blog. I am often inpsired, and especially enjoy the special needs spotlights. They have taught me so much and have given me insights about what I would like to teach my children.

    Comparing myself to other moms is something I have also struggled with (I think we all do!) Recently I had a baby and nearly died as a result of some complications. This experience has given me much to think about. One of those things is that Heavenly Father knows me. He is aware of me. He also knows my children. He also has a specific mission in mind for each of us. What is the right path for another may not be the right one for me. My good friend used to say, "There are many ways to do the right thing." I love that.

    I have learned (or am learning!) that because my Father in Heaven knows me so perfectly, I have access to the Holy Ghost to guide me and direct me. I am trying much harder to seek and listen to those promptings and let that be my guide instead of looking around at what others think I should do, or what I see them doing. When I really listen, I am much happier and so are my kids! What a gift if I will use it. Like I say, I'm learning.

    I really liked your analogy about the tithing. That will be a good reminder for me.

    I wrote a post about this comparison thing a while ago that I try to remember when I get into that trap.

    http://courtandkellysgirls.blogspot.com/2010/09/just-regular-ol-happy-me.html

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  3. My favorite trick is to compare myself now to the person I was 5 years ago, and then I feel great! Aging has been good for me.

    For some reason comparing myself to others has never been something that I've really done. Probably because the first mom I think of comparing myself to is my own mother and it's a "Yeah, right" when it comes to being as cool as her. I'd be fine with being half of the mother that she is. So why bother comparing at all? The trick to winning the race is learning that there is no race.

    However, the first thought I had when I brought up your post was, "Holy crap, what are they doing in shorts?! It's November for crying out loud!" :)

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  4. What I forgot to say was that you are one of those women I spoke of in my post. So while you are comparing yourself to another, there are those who are thinking of you and how fantastic you are doing!

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  5. For some reason "I can follow God's plan for Me" resonated with me as an 11 year old. God has a plan for each one of us, and each plan is different. When my sister got married at 20, while I was still single at 28, it didn't remotely phase me, though many acted like it should have. God has a plan for ME, and my plan is not my sister's.

    This is what keeps me from making life comparisons and mom comparisons, and allowed me to live a life that many in our culture deem as 'unconventional' or 'untraditional'- but that's the beauty of it- it's God's plan for Me.

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  6. This is totally random but what is the blog you were referring to (the mother of 11)? It sounds intriguing. :)

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  7. Miggy:

    Thank you for your posts-especially this one. This subject has been on my mind a lot lately. We're all different and the only person we can relatively compare ourselves to is our past selves--in what ways we have learned and grown. Besides when I look at other people and think "Why?" I end up just feeling grouchy at myself--and my "ideal" self pokes me. But I shove my "ideal" back into the deep dark cave and tell her she's totally unrealistic and for me, right now, I am doing all I can and I am happy with it. Sure, there is always room for improvement--but life is a work in progress so patience is key.

    I loved your analogy. :D You inspire me.

    M. VDG

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  8. What an incredible insight- had never put that together before, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

    Thank you. I needed this.

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  9. I have to agree with all the people here and also just say, wow. It is funny that just this morning I was thinking about this aspect of womanhood mostly, and how we do this to ourselves. This is a good way to put it, because you are right. We wouldn't compare our offerings to the Lord but we constantly compare EVERYTHING else with EVERYONE else, even strangers. Thanks you dear. I appreciate you a little more every time I read your blog. You are an amazing woman and mama.

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  10. Wonderful post!- such a good reminder to recognize our own divine nature and that we are each unique and different. Thanks! I love the photo too. :-D

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  11. Thank you so much for writing this! I feel like I learn this lesson over and over and over again. There are so many different mothering styles and I don't need to feel guilty because mine is not as (fill in the blank here) as someone else's.

    I am with you. Early bedtimes, gosh I need some time away, when will this baby learn to play on her own - and sometimes I do feel guilty. Thanks for the reminder that I don't need to. We are all different and that's OK.

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  12. I hesitate as always to write risking the eye rolls. people have it much harder than me. But Having four at once was a sacrfice...and continues to be. I had to make the sacrifice knowing the weight would primarily always be on me.

    Choosing to keep all of them against recommendation, Having to give up all our savings and job just to get pregnant...then proceed to go in debt..(the NICU was in the millions)

    Give up my career independance in one swoop most moms get to gradualy add one at a time adjusting to the change..this messed with my head for sure.

    The kind of mom I wanted to be would have to be split 4 ways...almost no room for Hubby. First two years I spent in the rabbit hole..everyone had a comment of how to do it and about my sanity but there wasn't another option...their was no help....But from the Lord.

    That "but" if i was to be honest kept us alive, and from me being on some serious meds. I am not joking on that note. Motherhood has variations for sure but if you set out to have the spirit in your home, smile more than yell, hug rather than spank you will be stretched and asked to o more than humanly possible.

    It is worth it..period. I know I don't need praise, or even equality anymore..I take what i need..I hug my kids longer than they would like, i run for a shorter amount of time but harder than ever, I still go to sleep on average 1:30 am. Bitter is not an option and I think tears down anything good.

    But know this mom knows how to scream into a pillow, hide in the closet and fight for a life worth living!

    Amy I love that my life is almost nothing what I thought it would be when you look at it..but it is everything i hoped when it comes to what I get out of it.

    Amy you are a free spirit asked to nail down her wings for the sake of her family, from the outside it looks like the experience has mad you more beautiful and free than "the simple life."

    Love

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