I am giving a shoutout to mothers today — not just biological moms but every woman with a mother’s heart who goes about humbly doing good in the world. Such women are cut out of the same cloth as the Savior Jesus Christ, although he reigns supreme as the only being who lived a perfect life in mortality and set an example for all to follow by seeking out and performing acts of service for others.
While Jesus came to earth to do his Father’s will and teach eternal truths, he also came to proactively “DO” the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet there were also times when Jesus was discouraged, hurting and exhausted. And it is eminently logical that when someone lightened his load and served him, it brought him great joy and his gratitude knew no bounds.
As he approached the end of his life, two incidents illustrate the sadness and joy when we fail to serve versus when we serve:
After washing his apostles’ feet, instructing them and administering the sacrament, Jesus led them to the Garden of Gethsemane. Leaving some, Jesus moved further into the garden with Peter, James and John, to begin the process of atoning for the sins and suffering of every individual who has or will experience mortality. And in doing so, he made possible, with proper repentance, each individual’s redemption, salvation and exaltation.
Before withdrawing a short distance he “saith unto (the three), My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). Please, he implored, stay awake and give me support — a simple but poignant request.
Then, walking on, he knelt and prayed to his Father, asking, if possible, that he not have to make this supernal sacrifice. When he knew it was necessary, he dutifully acquiesced, “not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). And there, in Gethsemane, as he bled from every pore so great was his pain, his Father sent an angel to comfort him.
Thrice he prayed and thrice he returned to find his apostles sleeping, at one time beseeching Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40).
Through it all, up and until his death on the cross, he never ceased or loved less his very human, sometimes thoughtless, disciples. But imagine what it would have meant to him in those wrenching hours to have had their active interest and backing.
In an earlier event, we gain a sense of his appreciation for service given when he spent time in Bethany with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. While there, Mary took “a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly and anointed the feet of Jesus” (John 12:3).
Spikenard was pure nard from a Northern India Himalayan plant, very expensive, and used to make luxurious perfumes and ointments. A Roman pound was just under 12 ounces, about the amount in a can of soda pop, and it cost “about a year’s worth of wages” — thousands of dollars, though Mary cared little the cost, indeed, perhaps intended in this way to express how much she loved him.
When she did so, both she and Jesus were criticized for “squandering” money performing an act of service for Jesus. It is the ultimate irony — he who spent his life doing for others with no thought for himself, maligned because someone chose to serve him.
Nevertheless, considering what lay ahead, Mary’s act of unbounded love meant the world to him. He defended her, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matthew 26:10). Why not applaud her kindness? I cannot express how much it means to me. In fact, “I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:10, 13, NIV).
All three of my brothers, Bruce, Clark and Thomas, to their great credit — as they’ve married, raised children, grown older, led busy professional lives and devoted hours to church callings — have served our mother. My brother Bruce was recently in Utah and, as he always does, he drove down to Orem, took Mom shopping, to dinner, and helped her around her home. He spent time with her, showed his love for her and served her.
He not only holds her hand and tells her he loves her, but he DOes nice things for her. He buys her flowers, takes her to movies, to concerts and plays, on trips, and includes her in lots of family and social events — as do all my brothers. Telling someone you love them is good, DOing something special for them is far better. It will warm their minds, hearts and souls for years to come.
Never let your mother, your wife, the women in your life, who have sacrificed and suffered for you, become an afterthought. Yes, tell them frequently and sincerely how much you love and appreciate all they do for you. But never ONLY tell them how much you love them, and how much you care. Dress up, have her dress up, bring her flowers or a box of candy, and take her to dinner and a show.
You might never fully understand how much it means to her but, I assure you, she does! And the Savior does as well. Let these women feel your love for them. It may take — perhaps should take — time, effort and sacrifice but show them, not just in words but by your deeds, how much you truly care.