My Life is Not my Own

Today, I borrow my Mother’s story – thoughts shared from mother to daughter that touched and inspired and left me thinking about the kind of person I want to be. Not on paper or in lofty conversation, but in deed, in the actual going and doing of my everyday life.

She was working on a baby quilt – a project that needed to be finished and somehow kept falling to the bottom of her priority list. Other things, necessary things, worthy things kept climbing to the top, demanding her time, her efforts, her energy. Finally, an afternoon was available, so she pulled out the quilt and started to work. And then, the phone rang.

“Someone is sick,” the caller said. “Can you take them dinner?”

My mother hung up the phone and to herself, to the heavens, to the cat sitting on the stool beside the counter, she wearily said, “My life is not my own.”

And then she stopped. The words flooded into her heart and mind with such clarity, she knew they came directly from God.

“Now you finally get it.”


Perhaps she heard those words so she could speak them directly into her daughter’s heart. They have been simmering here, on the surface of this person that I am ever since. But I want them to sink in, to permeate the very core of this imperfect mother, wife, disciple. I want my life to be His…

I’m here, Lord. Use me, mold me, take me as an instrument in Your hands.

And He would! Oh, how he would long to have us all standing ready, willing, open to His promptings if we could just shake off the shackles of distraction, of pride, of thinking that we really know what is best for us and for others all on our own without His help.

I’m not there yet. But I long for it – for that day when I will be able to say unequivocally, joyfully, “My life is not my own.”


A few weeks ago, I was discussing a scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants with my seminary students.

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my father.”

One of my students, in wisdom surpassing her age, looked at me and said, “You have five souls to bring unto Him.”

Five souls – Jordan, Sam, Lucy, Henry, Ivy.

For me, this scripture has always been about missionary work – about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those without. But is there a greater missionary effort than that which goes on in the walls of my own home? Is there greater joy than what comes from teaching your children to love the Lord?

This mothering work that I do is so much more than maintenance and cleaning and work, work, work.

This is a holy experience. A divinely designed opportunity for all of us within this family, within your family, to experience joy. And it is the best way – a perfect workshop – for us to learn how it is that we can serve and love and say without resentment, “My life is not my own.”

See, serving your children IS serving God. A clean kitchen, a cooked meal, a wiped face, a skinned knee kissed. Think of them as chores, as obligations… well, there isn’t any joy in that. But think of them as offerings,  and there, there is the joy.

Thanks for the lesson, Mom. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer because I have you to follow.

24 thoughts on “My Life is Not my Own

  1. Happy Mom says:

    Ohhh!Why is it that I get a glimpse of the sacred nature of my mothering and the truth of it is so sweet and good and motivating and then real life shoves it aside and I again get lost in the minutia that tries the patience and I forget….sigh.I NEEDED this today!

  2. Lara says:

    I loved this. I really feel this lately, that I never have much time to myself and I'm running ragged. It's hard to find balance, though. I DO want to serve God and others very much, but sometimes I just don't have it in me and I really just need a couple hours for myself.And, regarding your second thought, the first soul we need to bring to God is our own. Again, tough to find the balance as we work so hard for our children and in our callings and all the other things we must do, but ultimately, we have to find the time to bring ourselves to God. And that's what I've been struggling with most.(Who knew this comment would turn into a therapy session….thank you though, for this post!)

  3. Lesa says:

    Funny, I just published a post a minute ago about some of these same things going on in my life..Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

  4. Claudia says:

    So sweet, so inspiring, thanks to your sweet mother and you for sharing!Somehow I always read your inspiring words when I need them most – not a coincidence … I know!!<3

  5. Amber says:

    What you said, about your kids, is something I have been thinking about ever since last conference when I listened to Elder Lee's talk. Motherhood isn't just about the messes and getting things done, it's about teaching these beautiful children the things of God. Preparing them to serve missions, enter the temple of God, and for marriage. You know, the important stuff.

  6. DeNae says:

    Have you seen the painting or the sculpture, or heard the story behind "The Bishop's Plow"? I think it was told by Pres. Packer in conference a few years back. All about how someone passed the bishop's property one morning and found his plow in the middle of the field, the horse still tied to it. When the person passed again that evening, the plow and the horse were still there. The bishop's own work – own life – put on hold for to serve others. That's what I thought about when I read this post.

  7. Charlotte says:

    You do have a wise student. I've somehow lost that "life is not my own" part to me and am trying to get back there. It's been a struggle and I need the reminder (often).

  8. Kimberly says:

    This strikes me to my very core, because I had the same experience as you mom just last week. I've been helping Neil at the clinic, I've been driving a car-less sister from church to do her errands, all while my house and life seem to be unraveling around me. And I felt that frustration and bitterness melt as I realized the positive meaning of those words – the joy that can be found in them.That said, I'm still highly annoyed by how behind I am. So tired, so overwhelmed…but with an underlying peace that is stopping me from screaming…Beautiful, beautiful post.

  9. charrette says:

    Mmmmm….I love that. Offerings. Yes.For some reason the mundanity of it all does nothing for me, but if I can turn it into a MISSION, yes! I'm all there, 100%.Wonderful post. Thank you.

  10. Heather of the EO says:

    I try so hard too, to let go of my life and let it be service and sacrifice and joy. Of course I fail so much and that's okay, too. Grace. We pick up the whole of our lives and the people we give them to and the God we try to live for is still loving us. Thank you for this post. Gorgeous.

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