Last Sunday was our Primary program in Sacrament Meeting. My kids are grown now, so I no longer have anyone in my family participating, but it brought back memories. Now, to say I was one of those mothers that sat on the front row, bouncing in my seat, drooling with anticipation about the primary program (even when my kids were in it) would be a gross mischaracterization of me. Yes, I watched them…but for the rest of the program I kind of checked out. I’m not proud to admit that, but I have to be honest. Sorry. But for some reason, this last week was different. Yes, I checked out (sorry, Primary Presidency….really, the kids did a nice job! It’s just a personal problem of mine) but I also suddenly relived this memory from when my boys were young, and they were wearing little missionary name tags singing “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission”. I remember vividly watching this, anticipating the day that my boys would actually leave on missions…envisioning it as the best day ever…the day I would feel like I had done my job as a mother and successfully raised them to adulthood…the crowning moment, if you will. I imagine that the fact that I have an actual missionary out serving at this moment is what brought the memory to mind.
I am ecstatic about the fact that my son is out on a mission. Getting his call was exciting, getting him ready to go was stressful but rewarding, listening to his amazing testimony at his farewell was inspiring, and dropping him off at the MTC was heart wrenching. All of it was exactly as I’d always imagined it would be. I love writing him letters, and reading his letters, and I sit with anticipation on his P-day waiting for him to pop up on the computer because, having seen him sitting and typing at the computer so many times in his life, I have a clear vision of exactly what he looks like on the other end and it almost feels for a minute like he’s home.
But a lot of years have passed since that day I watched them sing, and time has a funny way of changing how you look at things. As great as all this mission experience has been, I realize now that it is not the crowning moment of his childhood like I expected.
The BIG WIN…the greatest day ever…was THIS DAY:
The day that my husband and I, along with extended family, got to go with our son to the Jordan River temple to take out his endowments. To get the experience of being present to watch as my son came into the Celestial Room…to be there to meet him…the simulation of the possibilities for us and our family of reuniting in the next life…THAT is the greatest day. You’d think I would have been blubbering like a big idiot, but actually, I don’t think I could wipe the smile off my face.
The thing I have learned over the course of all these years, through the trials of raising my boys through their childhood, into their teenage years, and on into adulthood is that it never should have been my goal to raise my son to be a missionary. Being on a mission will help Dylan to grow and change in countless ways, and there is honestly no better place for him to be at this time in his life, but in reality it is but one small stepping stone in the course of his life. The ultimate goal…the REAL goal, for us as mothers in the gospel of Jesus Christ should always be to raise honorable young men–good, kind, hard working men that will become good, kind, hard working husbands and fathers who honor their Priesthood and serve the Lord with all their might. That’s what I saw in Dylan that day in the temple–a little peek at the young man that he is now and the extraordinary man that he is becoming and it made my heart swell.
That’s why I can say, firmly, that the day he went to the temple was the BEST DAY. I’m sure there will be many more good days to come, like the day he, hopefully, will choose to go back to the temple to be sealed to a beautiful companion that will help to make his life complete. I hope to be able to one day see him bless his baby in Sacrament Meeting, baptize his child, ordain his own son to be a priesthood holder… The list goes on. I guess, mostly, I just want to see both my boys now move on in their lives to be honorable men who serve the Lord all their lives, treat their wives with absolute respect, and raise faithful children. It’s one step at a time…but that day at the temple was a really great start.
So as the mothers of sons, many of those sons will go on missions, but many will not, and some will go and come home early. I, myself, have a son that has chosen not to go. I have several friends whose sons have chosen not to go or have come home early. Sadly, many of these young men will feel there is a stigma attached to these decisions when there should not be. The reasons shouldn’t matter to anyone because this is a personal matter between them and a Heavenly Father that loves them and knows their heart. It doesn’t make them less honorable or less worthy any more than GOING on a mission makes someone a saint. Many of them will become good, kind, hard working husbands and fathers who take their wives to the temple and raise their children in the gospel and honor their Priesthood, and in the big picture, this is the BEST DAY.
Some of our sons will even go further than that…choosing to step away from the Church altogether for a time. We can still be proud to have raised honorable, good, kind, hard working men and always remember that Heavenly Father loves them and knows their hearts too. It’s at those times that we as mothers spend a lot of time on our knees, praying that someone else’s son that made the decision to go on a mission will find them and lead them back…and hoping that everyone in their life can love them regardless of their decision to leave.
And as the mother of a daughter, I have a message for her too. Cross “returned missionary” off that checklist of important qualities you’re looking for in a mate and change that requirement to “an honorable Priesthood holder that can take me to the temple” because they’re not always the same thing.