Introducing our Heavenly Mother’s Day Series
CW: Suicidal thoughts
I moved to Oakland five years ago. One of my first outings in the Bay Area was a gathering at Carol Lynn Pearson’s house where she gave each of us copies of her play, Mother Wove the Morning. It sat on my shelf for months because I didn’t want to open up Heavenly Mother-less wound I had.
When I finally read it, half a year later, I discovered that I was right in that it was an intense experience. I loved reading it and yet I ached. I wanted a relationship with Heavenly Mother, but I didn’t know how. Unfortunately the bigger question for me was “why.” Why should I have a relationship with Her?
Maybe it’s because the seasons were changing from fall to winter, or maybe it’s that by the time I got to really thinking about these things I was 5 months postpartum and had a 2 year old and I was isolated in a new place, but I hit a particularly dark time for me. I read my scriptures, I prayed. I searched for evidence of female angels, heavenly messengers, or otherwise resurrected beings. I wanted evidence that I, as a female person, would exist beyond this life. But the pronouns were all “he” and the names were “Michael,” “Gabriel,” “Jesus,” “Peter,” “James,” “John,” “Moroni,” “John the Baptist,” “the Three Nephites.” All of the stories about beings who come back to interact with mortals involved male beings. Were there any female ones? Men get some scriptural hints as to what they’ll be doing in the next life. Did women exist after death?
The closest I got in my search was in the Doctrine and Covenants where Joseph F. Smith describes a vision of the spirit world while spirits waited for Jesus to come during his 3 days of death before his resurrection. The other places is in Doctrine and Covenants 132 where women are given to men as rewards and it’s outlined that the purpose of women is to “multiply and replenish the earth.” This did not assure me of my importance at all. So women wait in the Spirit world just to be resurrected and continue making babies. They don’t get to visit people in visions or sound horns at the second coming. And if they are a goddess like Heavenly Mother, they don’t get talked about or included in discussions about creation, inspiration, or anything.
I hit a low for about two or three days. There was really no point to want the celestial kingdom if I’m just going to be forgotten. Similarly, why bother with strengthening relationships with the women around me: my mother, my sister, my daughter, my Relief Society sisters, if in the end it doesn’t matter that we are people and we’re all meant to be forgotten in the end? So what then is my goal in this life?
It came to the point that I didn’t have a reason to keep on living, except that I’m very afraid of dying. And the thought of suicide crossed my mind those days and well, if I ended up not going to the celestial kingdom over that*, then I figured being equal in hell was better than being unequal in heaven.
But like I said, I’m very afraid of death. I didn’t want to die, but I also didn’t want to live.
While driving to pick my husband up from work, a thought came to me. I needed to write a blog. I needed to “liken the scriptures” to myself by putting Heavenly Mother into the scriptures. I needed to assert her importance as a being, and as someone to hope I’d become. If the most powerful woman that we “know” of is unspeakable and untouchable, what does that say about lowly mortal women here? I had to make Heavenly Mother important in order to insist on my own importance and for motivation to keep living.
So I did my blog. And while I have let it fall to the side lately, I keep singing of the Lady as well as the Lord in hymns. I teach my children about Her and I include Her in my prayers.
For the next couple of weeks here at the Exponent, we are hosting a series of post on Heavenly Mother. I’m excited to read them and I hope you are too.
* The Church does not currently teach and I do not believe that people who die by suicide can’t make it to the highest levels of the celestial kingdom, but the quotes I was taught in my youth reflected that idea.