Reaching for Her

We are pleased to have Liz Johnson join us as a guest contributor.

On an otherwise ordinary night in the middle of November, I woke up to the sound of a small pop and a gush of fluid. Startled and groggy, I heaved my pregnant self out of my bed and into the bathroom. When I sat down, I felt my body push, and I promptly delivered a tiny baby girl into my own hands. She was absolutely perfect in every way, except for being completely still. And except for the fact that I was only 16 weeks pregnant.

I wish I could put the exact feeling of the experience into words. I know for sure that I felt my heart literally break, almost as if a piece of it had fallen off, never to be retrieved. I was brutally shaken, unable to logically figure out why this had happened – I had felt tiny flutters just hours before. But included in the shock and the grief was an overwhelming presence of something absolutely holy. It was simultaneously the most horrific and spiritual event of my life.

In the days (and weeks… and months… and years…) following, I found myself praying more sincerely and openly than ever. I offered some of the most raw & angry prayers ever, and I still sometimes wonder if the obscenities I screamed at God will be read back to me at the pearly gates. And beautifully, and mercifully, I got answers to some of my deepest questions, and I felt an enveloping sense of peace and reassurance that my Heavenly Father loved me.

But despite these heart-wrenching communions with Deity, I found myself desperately grasping for something more. I have grown up hearing that my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me infinitely, and that Jesus Christ knows my pain. And I believed that, and to an extent, I still believe that. But when you experience something like this, something so uniquely female, it leaves you grasping for somebody who really knows you, and who really knows your pain. I believe that Christ suffered for the pains and the sins of the world, but could He really, truly understand the visceral pain that comes from delivering your partially-formed daughter into the palms of your own hands? I mean, really?! I had always believed in Eternal Parents – it’s such a beautiful and, in my opinion, foundational piece of the gospel. But I’d never really thought about a Heavenly Mother more than simply reiterating what I’d always been taught – that “we just don’t know much about it, so we don’t talk about it, either.”

But after that otherwise ordinary night in November, those platitudes were not only insufficient, they were borderline offensive. And so, since then, I’ve found myself reaching for Her. I listen to Eliza R. Snow’s powerful words over and over, telling me that “I’ve a Mother there.” I pray to feel Her presence and Her comfort and Her reassurance that I am loved and understood. I am desperate to know Her, to crawl up on her lap and cry, like I would with my own Mother. And while I wouldn’t say that I’ve reached the place I would like to be, I have briefly felt small whispers, like those a child would hear from their mother while laying on her lap, letting me know that everything will be ok, and that She does, indeed, understand.

Truly, I’ve a Mother there.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this beautiful post. Knowing that Heavenly Mother exists has always brought me comfort and peace. I wish we talked about her with the same frequency and reverence we use to talk about Heavenly Father. This story illustrates so profoundly why that kind of discussion is needed. Thanks, Liz.

  2. Wanting a Heavenly Mother is such a basic desire. Just because we don’t talk about her, doesn’t mean that she stops existing. I see her reaching for us. And quite possibly wondering why we have put so many artificial barriers between ourselves and her. I know I do a great deal of that with my mother here on earth. And at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to curl up in our mom’s laps? I wish I had a better spiritual construct for doing so. (And Liz, you are incredible)

  3. I have no words, Liz, except, “Thank you.”

  4. However beautiful and well-framed (and it is beautiful and well-framed), I sometimes think it is sad that some have a need to reach beyond the Savior Jesus Christ rather than looking to him and only to him for their peace in this life and salvation in the next. I find so much joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ and so much faith and confidence in him, and I don’t want to err in the same way the apostle did, however innocently, as described in the fourteenth chapter of John by looking beyond the mark.

  5. #4: What an arrogant and thoughtless response.

  6. Sometimes, I forget how easy it is to be a man. It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that we have a heavenly male role model, Lord and friend who is fully fleshed out (literally) AND another neavenly male role model and father figure who also is very well fleshed out – while the women in our lives have only an obscure image. That image is better than nothing – better than no explicit acknowledgment that divinity also is female, but . . .

    Again, thank you, Liz.

  7. With regard to the OP: Your story was both beautiful and wrenching. Thanks you. So much of our conceptual understanding of a Heavenly Mother from scriptural and historical sources only comes to us in bits and pieces and yet those bits and pieces are profoundly moving, as well as logically coherent with what so many of us find so compelling about our faith, with its emphasis on eternal families and God as an Eternal Parent of some kind. For women in particular I can’t but imagine how nearly impossible it would be to not want to reach out to and relate to a Heavenly Mother in a similar fashion as we try to relate to Heavenly Father.

  8. thank you for sharing. The shock of the whole situation…I’m so sorry. I’ve miscarried, but never seen as baby..

    As for the subject at hand…I think we can accept that Christ is completely our savior. That He has empathy…and even understands the desire to offer life and be..refused.

    That doesn’t take away from the reality that women sometimes need women. The desire to go to a heavenly mother and cry for a bit..sometimes a very long while, is something I learned from having an earthly mother. I go to my parents for different reasons. Why wouldn’t it be the same with my heavenly parents? Why can’t I feel that I can access ALL of heaven through Christ…not just the suit and tie part? maybe i’m not looking for some extra saving or fixing…maybe I just want to cry?

    when the church teaches so thoroughly that we need a father and a mother for an earthly family…why can’t we express a need for a father ANd a mother in our heavenly Family?

  9. Jared T. says:

    Thank you, Liz.

  10. Thanks for sharing your experience, Liz.

  11. My husband often says I’m the only person he needs in the world. But that it’s quite obvious that I need not only him (the most central and important person in my life), but my Mom, and my sisters, and my best friend . . . that I need women to fill my bucket. And he’s grateful for the women in my life that fill my seemingly endless bucket, so he’s not solely responsible for such a daunting task.
    I feel like there’s something deep within who I am, in my soul, that needs other women. Especially when it comes to my own journey as a mother. If that desire and reaching is placed there by my divine parents, is it a call to reach out to my Heavenly Mother? Am I in error when I don’t reach to her, or when I reach to far? And what is the ‘appropriate’ way to do that? ‘Cause with the other women who love me, it’s to throw myself into their arms, raw and open and honest and fully ‘me’ . . .

  12. Thanks Liz. Well said. Men need to know they have a Mother there too.

  13. christer1979 says:

    I can relate. This is my moment to cry today. Thanks for sharing.

  14. This was beautiful, my friend.

  15. TaterTot says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope that you find the comfort that you seek.

  16. Thank you, Liz. Beautiful.

  17. # 5 – Speaking of an arrogant and thoughtless response. It seems that this post is the proof of Freud’s disproof of God’s existence. God is the projection of whatever we want most to connect with but just cannot quite realize. It is a human projection.

    Addressing the issue of an argument for the existence of a mother in heaven, such anecdotal experiences are less than persuasive. It seems to me that if God as Father cannot understand the experience of a miscarriage, then he cannot understand such mundane things as the mere pressure of working for an accounting firm in Los Angeles, or being parent of this particular child, or any other particular human experience either. Such a god would be quite pathetic and literally not God at all. If God does not include within his experience the intimate knowledge of every human experience as his own, then there is no God. The post by Ms. Johnson is a beautiful reflection of her experiences, but if taken seriously as an argument or even a bare reason to believe in a mother in heaven it just isn’t persuasive to me.

    That said, my heart goes out to Liz Johnson. No doubt such experiences are cause for deep reflection into the divine purposes.

  18. Liz Johnson says:

    @ji – I totally understand not having a need or desire to reach beyond that; like I mentioned, I hadn’t felt a need until I had this experience. But I also think it’s normal to reach beyond Christ – aren’t we supposed to reach out to a loving Heavenly Father? I think He and Christ fulfill separate, albeit complementary, functions, and so it only stands to reason that we would reach out beyond Christ to get forgiveness, comfort, peace, or whatever else we need. And so I don’t think it’s too big of a jump to naturally reach out to a Heavenly Mother, just like a Heavenly Father, particularly to fill a separate, albeit complementary, function.

    Thank you, everybody. I also echo Hilary’s question/frustration – what IS the appropriate way to reach out to a Heavenly Mother? I don’t think it’s an outlying doctrine – even “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” mentions having heavenly parents – but it seems like there’s no way to really reach for Her without feeling like you’re stepping out of bounds. I really debated even writing this post because I was worried about being perceived as a semi-apostate (although I’m becoming less and less concerned with how others perceive me as long as I’m being honest and authentic). I’ve read Kevin Barney’s excellent essay from Dialogue on this topic, and he has fantastic suggestions, but is there any way to create a more open dialogue (ha! so punny) about Her?

  19. Thank you for your post. I really appreciated what you wrote for a couple of reasons.
    First, I think you articulated so well some of the struggles I have as a woman. I know I have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love me. But I don’t see understand how they can fully understand and KNOW what I feel like as a woman–the unique experiences I have as a woman who menstruates, often painfully, monthly. Or what it is like to suffer through childbirth, or deal with a miscarriage. It strikes me as unbelievely unjust and painful that we are to have a Heavenly parent who does understand those aspects of being a woman, quite intimately. And yet, we are denied both knowledge and access to her.

    If we are to believe the gender is unique and eternal, then I also believe there are unique male experiences that I, as a woman, will never fully grasp or understand. I am fine with men and women having unique experiences related to biology.

    Furthermore, I often think we women really don’t have any idea what is coming to us or happening to us in the after-life. Men have a pretty good grasp of what awaits them if they qualify for the highest degree of the Celestial kingdom and become like Heavenly Father. But where does that leave the women? What happens to us? Sure, we’ll be linked to our spouse and children? But what will we do? Will we just pop out spirit babies and lounge around in heaven-eating celestial bonbons? I certainly don’t think so, but the very vagueness leaves me frustrated. I can’t imagine, as a mother, not having access to my children or having them denied knowledge about me, as their mother, and yet, here we are, billions of people on this planet who don’t even know about their Heavenly Mother.

    And why don’t we have more knowledge about our other Heavenly parent? Is it because we aren’t righteous enough? Or haven’t the prophets and leaders been asking the right questions because they are male?

    I grapple with these questions.

  20. In my opinion, it’s very possible that the Queen of Heaven is closer than we usually believe: http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/57110-can-the-book-of-mormon-the-pearl-of-great-price-help-to-restore-priesthood-to-women/

  21. ChristyH says:

    @SteveP, what an awesome insight. Mothers provide a distinct and loving refuge for all of us, women AND men.

  22. Not really sure if I buy your argument, Jeremy for a couple of reasons as we typically defined the Holy Spirit as being a Spirit and lacking a physical body (which negates the idea of a celestial and glorified being) and that the prophets have always referred to the Spirit as being male. But, interesting thoughts anyway.

  23. Hosea, I am assuming that you are male. And if so, then I think you are missing the point-as some men tend to do about unique female experiences.

  24. #23 – interesting assumption. So what is the point you think I am missing about God knowing all human experiences from the intimacy of co-experiencing them?

  25. Tiffani: Thanks for reading it! :)

    Modern Prophets have generally cited the King James Version of John as their reason for ascribing male gender to the Holy Spirit of Wisdom. However, as Joseph Smith said, “our latitude and longitude can be determined in the original Hebrew with far greater accuracy than in the English version. There is a grand distinction between the actual meaning of the prophets and the present translation.”

    As far as “lacking a physical body” — it depends on how we define “spirit”. If the premortal Christ extending a hand to Ether is anything to judge by, I think “spirit” is, in fact, the name of a type of physical body. The Book of Mormon states that the Father is the Great Spirit, and yet He is also embodied in a tabernacle. In fact, we are *all* “spirits” who have been embodied. So it all depends on how we look at it! :)

  26. #17 – If I read your comment correctly, you are questioning the existence of Heavenly Mother? I thought this was a settled point in LDS theology (answer: yes, Heavenly Mother exists). The unsettled point, and the topic of this post, is the relationship between mortal and Heavenly Mother.

  27. Liz Johnson says:

    @Tiffani – I really loved your comment, particularly “If we are to believe the gender is unique and eternal, then I also believe there are unique male experiences that I, as a woman, will never fully grasp or understand. I am fine with men and women having unique experiences related to biology.” Agreed!

    @Hosea – Is it possible, then, that we misinterpret the meaning of “God?” I think we usually use the terms “God” and “Heavenly Father” interchangeably, but recently I’ve come to think of “God” as the inclusive title of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, equally yoked and working complementary to one another (thus, Heavenly Father is God, but God is more than just a Heavenly Father). So, at least to me, I believe that God knows all pain, all suffering, and is omniscient, but I believe that to very much be a function of a Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father working together, one in purpose.

    @Jeremy – I am reading that article now and will respond – I just don’t want you to think I’ve overlooked your comment!

  28. I’m a woman, and I thought #17 was well-argued and about as tactful as possible when disagreeing with a post such as the one found in the OP. Even if there is a female deity such as the LDS Heavenly Mother, how would she possess more understanding of a miscarriage than a male deity if she herself had not lived a mortal life and suffered a similar experience? I’ve been pregnant and I’ve given birth, but I’ve never miscarried, so I certainly make no claim to being able to empathize better than a man could.

    I understand the yearning for a divine feminine—I really do. I just don’t think the experience of uniquely feminine pain makes a good case for the existence of such an entity.

  29. Liz: Yes, I am in the question regarding the existence of a heavenly mother. Yes, I am questioning the existence of heavenly mother as someone we pray to — and I believe it is both standard LDS and generally Christian tradition that we pray to the Father in the name of the Son as Jesus directed. No, I don’t think that heavenly mother knows some things and Heavenly Father knows other things and that together they know all things — when we throw in the Son and/or Holy Spirit. No, I don’t think that the Holy Spirit gives birth to spirit children.

  30. Thank you for this beautiful and stirring piece. Your words are inspiring.

    This just drives home so powerfully the problems of a motherless house. How can we be complete without Her?

  31. I use to be confused about the teachings of the church about Heaven in this way. First (when I was a child) I thought that I would be together with my forever family (my parents and my siblings) – later when I was older and married I thought to myself- No that isn’t right, instead I will be with my spouse and our kids – then I thought that can’t be right, No – it will just be me and my husband because my kids will have their own spouses to be with over their own world. Then I thought I would be a Mother in Heaven someday – side by side with my husband and we would be Gods of our own world. Then I found out that my forever family might not be just me and my husband, but I might have sister wives, but not for sure – maybe. Then I was told I would spend eternity giving birth to children to populate our world. I was also told that I would be anonymous to this world and my spirit children would only have a relationship with my husband – who would be God. This is because I was so much more special and sacred than my husband. Then I found out that having a world of our own wasn’t doctrine any more. This made some sense because our Godhead is not a mother and father, but 3 men Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit – not a female and a male couple. So then I realized that no mention of women or mothers in Heaven were ever mentioned in canonized scripture by any prophet ever – throughout all of time. The fact that men were always the Gods and never the women made me wonder. This started to make me suspicious that the whole concept of Heaven like we might picture it might have been made up by men originally because the whole thing didn’t seem to make any sense anymore – and seemed very one sided. So now I hesitate about picturing God as an old man with a white beard floating somewhere in space or on the planet Kolob. Now I look to Jesus as a spiritual guide and I think of God more as the Spirit of Love and embrace not really knowing anything about Heaven at all.

  32. Liz Johnson says:

    @Jeremy – Your article brought up several things that I had never considered. I’ll probably need them to sink in before I have a coherent response, but thanks for the link!

    @Ms. Jack & @Hosea – I totally get the argument, and I’m not saying that the existence of uniquely female pain is necessarily evidence for a divine feminine. I’m just saying that experiencing uniquely female pain is what caused me to really explore the idea. And I don’t pray to Her, but I do pray about Her, and I pray to feel some evidence of Her existence and reality. And the conclusion/testimony I’ve come to is that She does exist, and I’m still trying to figure out what that means to me and how I would relate to a Heavenly Mother in my life. I’m still not entirely sure what I believe in terms of how a Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father work together, but I’m open to the possibility. But I still very much believe that when I’m referring to “God,” I’m referring to a Father and a Mother.

    Also, I had never considered the possibility of whether our Heavenly Parents had ever experienced mortality (and what that would mean with relating to our mortal pains), so that’s something I’m definitely going to chew on. Thanks, Ms. Jack.

    @Nat Kelly – Thank you. I simply can’t fathom a Motherless house if it’s supposed to be Heaven.

  33. Sharee Hughes says:

    While we are told we should not pray to our Heavenly Mother (we don’t even pray to Christ, just to God the Father), I don’t think we are necessarily denied access to her. I believe that Heavenly Father has many wives, so we may not all have the same Heavenly Mother (which means I don’t go along with Jeremy’s theory). This may be why we know so little about her. Many years ago I had a friend who, in a time of great need for a “mother,” actually had a vision of her Heavenly Mother. And Liz, those “small whispers” that you have felt seem to me to be a step in the right direction. #4, ji, is obviously a man who doesn’t understand. As #8 said, women sometimes do need women. And at those times of great female trials, such as the miscarriage Liz endured, why can’t we ask our Heavenly Father to please let us feel the comforing arms of our Heavenly Mother around us. I do not think He would say no to such a heratfelt request. And to #28, I believe our Heavenly Mother to be an exalted being just as our Heavenly Father is–and that she did once live as a mortal being and it is entirely possible she suffered a miscarriage. Even if she did not, women can sympathize with women’s issues more than men can–even God-men.

  34. Thank you for sharing your story op. It made me cry.

    My personal opinion is that Joseph Smith was restoring many, many truths – but he was killed before he restored as much as he would have been able to if he had lived, and if the people had been amenable to it.

    Remember that he said the people would “fly to pieces like glass” if he told them anything that went against their traditions. Well, one of the traditions was an absence of a mother as an equal partner with the father. Had the people been willing/able to accept more, had JS not been enticed back to his death by his own people, I honestly believe that we would have information about our mother in heaven.

    I don’t think she has always been anonymous. I think there may be vestiges of her in religious myths around the world. When we finally reach for God, leaving all of our false traditions behind, humbly and sincerely wanting truth above all else (including pride, preconceived notions, tradition, fear, etc.), then we will find her.

    Seems to me that someone said once that the “Gods” that created the earth, in the original (Hebrew, I think) meant male and female. Was it Denver Snuffer who said that?

  35. It helps me to view the word ‘God’ in the scriptures as being ‘parents’ instead of just the father.

  36. I understand what Hosea and ji are saying, but in Mormonism, we do think gender matters more, and in a qualitatively different way, than other traits. If I can quote Ralph Hancock in the news today (perhaps not approvingly but at least illustratively), “it is hard to conceive of calling anything Mormon that relinquishes the importance of sexual difference and procreation in the big, eternal scheme of things.” If we do believe what Ralph says, and believe it enough to do many hard, hurtful, otherwise unintuitive things based on that belief (i.e. treatment of women and gays), then it seems to me that a specific need for communing specifically with Her follows from that belief.

  37. What a beautiful post, and thanks also to #19 (Tiffani) for your comment. I think this discussion is evidence that many of us grapple with the same questions that you articulated.

  38. Oh Liz. It’s so beautiful. And I have longed so many, many times for that unnamed Mother, especially given that my earthly mother has been unable to give me what I have often longed for in her. I love what you have written so much.

  39. Cynthia (#36), that’s a profound insight. But also a deeply troubling one. If you combine Hancock’s argument about the centrality to Mormonism of sexual difference and procreation in the grand scheme with our actual discourse on creation and procreation and gender and divinity and exaltation, you would be forced to conclude that it is essential to Mormonism to do _both_ of the following: a) acknowledge the existence of a Heavenly Mother; and b) rigorously enforce a general prohibition against worshipping her, praying to her, thinking or talking seriously about her, or anything else that comes even close to treating her as divine in any way.

  40. In other words, exactly what we seem to be doing…

  41. Fwiw, I also interpret “God” as synonymous with “heavenly parents”, based solely on the modern Mormon idea of “as far as it is translated corrently”.

    My mother, an incredibly spiritual woman and about as orthodox as it gets, got around the issue by obeying the directive to pray only to Heavenly Father. What she did, in private, was pray to Heavenly Father, then, in the middle of her prayer, tell Him she would be back as soon as she got done talking with Heavenly Mother. It was just a conversation, not a prayer. In terms of analogies, she dialed Heavenly Father, spoke with Him for a while, talked with Heavenly Mother, then finished back with Heavenly Father and in the name of Jesus Christ. She didn’t do that all the time, but she did it occasionally. She probably also had private conversations outside of prayer of which I was not aware, but she did what meant the most to her within the letter of the law.

    I love the ingenuity and humility of that approach.

  42. Kristine says:

    Brad, #39–I think you’re almost at the crux of the problem. The trouble is that if we were to really flesh out a theology of Heavenly Mother, that is, take seriously the notion of a female being who is equal in power and glory to God the Father, and think and talk about what she might be like and what she might be doing, the contrast between what we would imagine her role to be and the role we currently assign to women in the Church would become unbearable. We simply wouldn’t be able to salve our consciences with “Women are incredible!” anymore, if we were serious about there being a feminine Deity. Bishoprics would look absurd sitting on the stand without their female counterparts, an endowment with no female voice in the creation narrative would make no sense, and all the jokes about how women have to be in charge because men would forget the refreshments would stop being funny. (Not that they’re funny now).

  43. Liz Johnson says:

    @Kristine (and @Cynthia/@Brad) – AMEN. And in my opinion, it needs to happen. The cognitive and spiritual dissonance of knowing we have a Heavenly Mother, but not speaking/thinking of her and not fleshing out the power in womanhood, is really difficult to bear.

  44. Preaching to the choir, K…

  45. wreddyornot says:

    Very much enjoyed your posting, Liz, although I’m a man with no direct experience in that realm.

    As a defining moment in my life, I do remember, however, sitting on my mother’s lap at home and being lovingly comforted and reassured after boys in my third grade classroom, under the direction of our female teacher, didn’t chose me — pretty much the only boy not chosen — to be on the softball team to meet the challenge of another classroom.

    I believe I have a Mother there, and I don’t plan on waiting for school to be out to run home and get some loving comfort, just like back in the third grade I didn’t wait for school to be out. Each Sunday I look for an opportuntiy to ask where Mother is.

  46. Well said, Kristine.

    Liz, a beautiful and thought-provoking post. I’m so glad you get to share your fantastic writing with everyone here. This really struck me deeply. On Saturday our cousins 15 month old son died in a completely random accident. Hearing about what she (his mother) went through throughout the course of the day has left us stricken. Patrick and I were up late last night, unable to sleep because of the pain we felt for what she is going through and trying to avoid thinking about ourselves in her place because imagining it took our breaths away. I imagine the knowledge that there is a mother in heaven who knows the pain and grief that a mother has (and I think our Father knows this too) that we can reach for and curl up with in times of extreme sadness would be a great salve in this situation.

    The imagery you use at the end of the post makes me cry because it so perfectly describes the longing to know our Mother.

  47. Great post. Sincerely. I find myself very conflicted and yet inspired.

    My first reaction is to the post is feeling Liz’s earnestness and pain; yearning for being Understood with a capitol “U.”

    My second reaction is more in lines with Hosea and Ms. Jack. I have no problem with the notion of Heavenly Mother or even Heavenly Mothers. I think she will be more than I can ever comprehend in every single way. But something doesn’t sit right in my soul when I think of an all-knowing and powerful God and Christ who can’t understand uniquely feminine pain or suffering. It just sounds strange. I have no problem thinking that Heavenly Mother will understand me completely, including my “male-ness.”

    Still, on further reflections, Liz, I come to a point that I do relate to your yearnings. I have no clue how any of these eternal relationships will work. I have peace that at the end of the day, I’ll be Understood and taken care of in a way that will not leave me wanting. I also believe that for those who really desire, there are truths there for the taking. I don’t have any doubt that due to your faith and desire, you may have gained an understanding of Heavenly Mother’s love that I’ll probably never have in this lifetime.

    Thanks for giving me something to flip my mind on my commute home tonight.

  48. I once tutored English at BYU (to get a break from law school I’d drop over and tutor English writing).

    Had a guy come into the lab for help on his math. He had been assigned a female math tutor and did not like dealing with her, so he came in to talk to me, since I was a guy.

    I’ve thought about that since, when people imply that men don’t feel pain, or can not connect with “the pain and grief that a mother has” since they are only fathers, only men.

    Appreciate #27 and #28. I think the OP has suffered a great deal of pain, and deserves kindness as she deals with it.

    But everyone else, I wonder how to express “That doesn’t take away from the reality that women sometimes need women” clearly, without the implication that fathers don’t feel pain and grief, only mothers. I’ve been told that more times than I would like. Maybe it is true after all, maybe what I’ve experienced doesn’t count as pain.

    But, if “women sometimes need women” I think we need to accommodate their needs with patience.

    I believe that God knows all pain, all suffering, and is omniscient even though I don’t know that I really know or understand God as well as I would like. Pain creates a wall there, still, that I have not yet been able to completely pass.

    Guess I really don’t know what to say here either, other than I appreciate everyone’s efforts.

  49. “I wonder how to express “That doesn’t take away from the reality that women sometimes need women” clearly, without the implication that fathers don’t feel pain and grief, only mothers. I’ve been told that more times than I would like. Maybe it is true after all, maybe what I’ve experienced doesn’t count as pain.”

    Stephen, if anyone here has felt pain, it’s you. I hope there are no implications that fathers don’t feel pain and grief – that only mothers do. One of the things I love most about Mormon theology is that it posits that “God” isn’t “just” a father – that “God” is a father and a mother. The practicality of exactly what that means doesn’t matter all that much to me, except that I abhor the idea of an eternally pregnant Heavenly Mother (on multiple levels), but I love the concept that men AND women have both with whom they can relate. Unfortunately, that’s not embedded in practice, in any way yet, but I can hope for the future.

  50. John 14:6-13
    (If you feel authorized, substitute “Mother” for “Father” — but the answer is the same that we shouldn’t look beyond Jesus for our hope or solace or comfort)

    Jesus saith unto him, I am the away, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

    Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

    Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

    Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

    Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

  51. In regards to the John 14 references, I didn’t read the OP as saying one would reach to Heavenly Mother for salvation, but for a connection, understanding, empathy.

    Also, having parents who lost a child, I would never say that my Mom knew greater pain than my Dad — but if, God forbid, I found my self in the same situation, I would need them both, but I would guess I would reach out more to my Mom because I believe our pain would be more similar. I wouldn’t think the pain more or less than my Dad’s, I would just reach to where I would feel the greatest connection and understanding. And my Dad is amazing, I have spent most of my lifetime closer to him than my mother. But, when it comes to being a Mother myself, I rely upon my Mom far more than I have at any other time in my life. And while our Heavenly Father knows and understands all. I don’t. I don’t see all sides, all perspectives with perfect clarity and understanding. So, I look to where I feel like I will find the most compassion, empathy and understanding. Whether I’m correct in my assumptions or not, I will always naturally seek understanding and comfort where I feel most likely to find it.

    And losing a baby while pregnant would obviously be a very different experience for a woman than a man. Both lost a child, but one had a very physical experience. That’s not even to say that the woman feels the pain more strongly than the man, since my own Grandfather greatly mourns a stillborn son in ways far greater and deeper than my Grandmother does. (By her own admission). But it was a very different experience for them, while the ultimate loss (the opportunity to raise a child in this life) was shared.

  52. I think, sometimes, it can be a comfort to take refuge in the company of those whose gender experience (both biological and social) matches up with yours. I’m a woman, and I enjoy the comforting power of being in a community of women. I suppose men feel the same way about the company of other men. I suppose that need for a feeling of someone else’s particularities matching up with your particularities is part (only part, mind; I’m sure the reasons are as varied as the people who have them) of why some people seek out our Heavenly Mother. Admittedly, while I like knowing She is, I’ve never really felt a need to look for Her, but I hope I can better understand those who do. Thank you, Liz, for a truly beautiful piece.

  53. I can’t deny anyone else’s inspiration for the existence of Heavenly Mother or contradict them should they claim she must exist. And the OP was beautifully written and poignant. But it seems unfair to suggest that God’s church has somehow buried Her. How could that possibly be? Certainly She could reveal Herself in a more assertive manner to prophets (or prophetesses) should She wish it. Certainly she could preserve a record as well as Heavenly Father could. I find it odd that some feel the church is trying to cover Her up. How could mortals hold Her back? It seems to me that many a church leader has overreached in expressing personal understandings as God’s revelation and caused much grief because of it. Should you successfully get them to deliver more than they have to divulge, you probably deserve what you get.

  54. Thank you Liz. The primal longing for mother in innately human, and you’ve so eloquently illustrated in your very deeply personal reflection.

    Kristine, yes. Thank you.

  55. Liz, I am a firm believer in continuing revelation. As time progresses we obtain a better understanding of who we are and what our relationship is to God. This includes the divine feminine. Somewhere we lost the feminine side of God. We yearn for that feminine. The Catholics and the Orthodox have appropriated Mary as their feminine divine as a result of the generally held view that the masculine God is less loving and less empathetic, much more willing to thrust people down to hell. That includes unbaptized children, as well.

    As time progresses we can appreciate a different view of God, as revelation unfolds. Joseph taught, and I am convinced it is true, that the doctrines of the Kingdom will distill upon us and unfold and reveal to our view the vastness of eternity in its manifold beauty.

    When I was a kid I had an unformed view of heaven. As I have gained experience I can see that my infantile view was extraordinarily limited. My view now is expansive and can easily incorporate a Mother there who is at least as powerful as the Father. And how does it hurt to pray to her? Is the male God going to squash us for that?

    You say, men are fragile and need that example of Godly male strength to support them in their roles of presidents and prophets. Men, get over it. The sun is setting on that day and rising on a new day of equality and cooperation. Our view of heaven is big enough for that. The Gospel of love will support it.

    Thanks, Liz, for the revelation.

  56. Tiffani says:

    Ji, I don’t think anyone is suggesting, in any way, that we need look for salvation beyond Jesus Christ. Truthfully, I find your comments patronizing and you seem to be missing the point of the OP and the comments. Instead most people seem to be asking for more knowledge of this Heavenly Being. And, as a woman, I think it is important to know more about Her–especially to gain an idea of what my eternity will look like. Of course we don’t know everything. We know the universe is bigger than any of us can comprehend.But we still have a greater understanding of what awaits a man who is true and faithful to his covenants. You’ll become like Heavenly Father. And, while our knowledge is limited, we still know more about Him and what He does–at least regarding his earthly children. But beyond knowing of the existence of a Heavenly Mother, we have nothing. We don’t know what she does. We can speculate, but don’t even really know if we can even consider her a deity. I can hope that our knowledge is limited and what awaits me if I am true and faithful to my covenants is far more magnificent than what I can possibly imagine or even hope for.

    Martin, no one has suggested that God’s church has buried our knowledge of Heavenly Father. To do so, suggests a maliciousness that I would hope our prophets would not have. I think that it stems from a lack of questioning. The prophecies and revelations recorded in the scriptures usually stem from a question on the part of a prophet. I don’t know if it has really occurred to prophets, especially in patriarchal societies, to even consider the role of a Heavenly Mother. I find I would rather think that they haven’t asked the questions then your ideas that “Certainly She could reveal Herself in a more assertive manner to prophets (or prophetesses) should She wish it. Certainly she could preserve a record as well as Heavenly Father could. I find it odd that some feel the church is trying to cover Her up. How could mortals hold Her back?”. You seem to suggest that our lack of understanding or knowledge about her stems not from her being a divine being or deity–but rather that she is simply not important enough to warrant further knowledge about her. And what does that mean, AGAIN, about a woman’s role in eternity?

    Finally, I apologise for implying that men feel less deeply or experience less pain. I certainly never meant such an assertion or implication. There are many universal experiences that men and women share: parenting, grief, illness, sorrow, pain, suffering, etc. However, there are experiences that are also uniquely related to gender. My husband, as much as he loves me, sympathizes with me and cares for me, will never understand the full extent of what I experience as related to my gender. Likewise, I’ll never fully know what it is like to be a bishop and carry the burdens of a congregation. Of course, not all women and men will experience those unique things relating to gender, but the potential is there.

  57. “we don’t know everything.”

    “We” don’t know anything. There is no such thing as what “we” know, since “we” is not at agent that can possess knowledge. I have brought this up several times, and mean to do it every chance I get, however quixotic it might begin to seem. I think it is important because the idea that this is something _we_ should or even can come to know collectively steers us badly. It may cause us to hesitate where we need not, or become overly sure of ourselves where we ought not.

    Knowledge, of Heavenly Mother, Heavenly Father, or any other matter in the cosmos, is an individual project. In fact, while we may speculate together, and frame the discussion in beneficial ways, knowledge comes to us personally, individually, through direct experience, as we individually apply our selves to the end of gaining it. The “church” provides some context, importantly provides and protects the ordinances through which mysteries can be revealed, provides scriptures that can be both touchstones and portals, and, at least in theory, a body of believers engaged in the same project. But each person stands individually, not along a linear path that ends in knowledge but at a point in a three dimensional space where the center point towards which all seekers move represents all knowledge. There is no such thing as forbidden knowledge, and we are more than invited to seek.

    The key scripture, to my mind, is Alma 12: “It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him … ” It seems to me the thing learned here is that it is possible for any person to come to know the mysteries, but that those who know them will not generally be found speaking about them. (In this, may I say how important for me it has been to have deeply trusted friends, especially my own dad, with whom I do feel I can openly speak. I highly recommend finding such people.)

    I’d really like to say that I believe that I have received revelation concerning Heavenly Mother, and that I believe this is not an uncommon thing. I find all the information that I’ve come to know about God through the Spirit deeply comforting, including information about Heavenly Mother. None of this has ever happened because I’m a very good person, because I am not a very good person. When I look back at my life I see that I produce pain and discomfort everywhere I go. Also, no one is ever going to mistake me for a typical orthodox Mormon. But these revelations have almost invariably come to me at times in my life when I have been taking my covenants very seriously, when I have been actively trying to do what we promise in the Sacrament: to remember Christ and keep His commandments in order to obtain the Holy Spirit, which is the only way these revelations can come to us. For me, “commandments” primarily means having Faith in Jesus as best as I understand Him, repenting or trying to actively improve myself in any number of ways, including improving in knowledge, and trying to conform myself to the kind of person that is presented in the Sermon on the Mount and in the parables and elsewhere in His teachings. In addition, the commandments of God to me are those personal directives that come to me through the Spirit. This in place, they have come at times when I have actively gone and sought.

    Also, they have not always come, we are only ready for those things that lie just over whatever our personal horizon is. This wisdom in what we don’t receive sometimes doesn’t become obvious for a long time. In such cases, I try to recall the comfort of what I have received. Nor is any revelation the final word on any subject. While each is comforting, more is always needed, and new light always casts a different aspect on old information. I think the directive is to hunger and thirst for it.

    Nor are my personal experiences a measuring stick for any other person. Every person is in their own place, with their individual histories and horizons.

    I understand that there is a desire for some kind of official statement or pronouncement of doctrine – but may I suggest that this would not quench the desire, since the desire lies in the soul and is not an academic matter and can’t be satisfied by hearing people’s opinions on the matter. In any case, waiting may mean waiting till doomsday, when there is no need to wait.

    Do girls yearn for the comfort of their comfort of their mothers more than boys? I doubt that very much. To girls delight less in the approval of their fathers than boys? Maybe not important questions. I feel quite sure the comfort will come when we are ready for it.

  58. Tiffani says:

    Thanks Thomas. You’ve given me some good things to think about.

  59. Thanks, Tiffani, for thinking about things with me. :)

  60. Liz Johnson says:

    @ji – I understand that no man comes unto God except through Christ, and I think that’s true, but I don’t think it suggests that we can’t come unto God or reach out to our Heavenly Parents through Him – in fact, I think the passage from John suggests that we, in fact, can reach God through Christ. And I think this is why we pray in Christ’s name, but ultimately are praying/talking to God.

    @Thomas Parkin – Agreed. I think it speaks of being your own authority, gaining your own testimony, and then sharing your knowledge and experience to uplift others. You put it very beautifully.

    Thanks, everybody, for your insights. Your comments are so, so appreciated and have given me a lot to think about and be uplifted by.

  61. #57 – Amen, Thomas. Beautifully said.

  62. ernwern says:

    I read this piece and some comments on here last night and found myself thinking about them this morning wondering how one would receive more information about the topic of a Heavenly Mother. (It seems like a comment forum is a good place to share ideas to consider but not necessarily to receive enlightenment.) I felt a little silly when the most obvious answer (besides prayer) occurred to me. I realized for those who are LDS that the temple would be the perfect place to go, being a house prepared for us to contemplate the things of eternity and to receive revelation from God. I think for me that will be something worth spending the time seeking answers in the temple and I would encourage anyone with questions of their own to look for them there as well. Thank you for giving me some food for thought!

  63. I think we need to remember to mourn with those who mourn rather than to kvetch at them and to take joy with those who joy rather than resent them.

  64. We know we have it within our theology to believe in a Heavenly Mother. I know we all recognize we don’t have a correlated way to discuss it, but it seems to me experiences like this are beautiful insights into how to better approach dealing with the issue.

    I want to thank Liz for helping me understand the atonement just a little better this morning, because I know when I am able to feel love and compassion for another person’s experience I also come to understand the divine a little better.

  65. I understand the need to know more and feel a connection to our Heavenly Mother, but some of the dialogue feels like a need to draw a line between those who can commiserate from experience and those who can’t. There is a danger in this, akin to the generalizations made when saying things like “the highest glory of a woman is to be a mother”. There are so many outliers that it diffuses the intent and meaning of the saying. (this saying is also extremely limiting, but that’s a different discussion)

    If women who have had many children can seek solace in the same Mother as women whose bodies do not even have the ability to have a period, then why not in their Father? If a man who has had many children can seek solace in the same Father as the man who is impotent, then why not in their Mother? I do not think that male and female are completely interchangeable (else why have gender at all), but I do think that part of what we all need to learn is how to open ourselves up to Deity and our fetravelers able in this life, no matter who we are addressing, and no matter what their direct experiences have been.

    Yes, I understand the frustration of not being given the specific option, at least right now, of speaking to a female leader in confessions or in seeking solace through the Church, but that should not be used as an excuse to not learn how to use what we currently have. Would women be more comfortable confessing to a female Bishop? Possibly, but some may also feel less comfortable. I, personally, communicate far better with most women than I do most men. I am sure there are women who have a harder time opening up to women than to men.

    I can’t believe that the order of the universe and direction of this world is not a joint exercise, even though we are directed to communicate with only one. I think the framework we have in the Gospel and in the Church are such that we are encouraged to seek out new understanding, even if it is a severely “dumbed down” version. I believe we will collectively increase in understanding until we come to a point where we can handle the “greater light and knowledge”.

    But for now, we need to learn to better use what we have. Until we reach that glorious future (where we’ll have even more questions we can’t even comprehend now), we can use our longing to continue to take steps forward on the long journey it is to becoming like our Heavenly Parents.

  66. #62 – ernwern
    Excellent suggestion! And, for those who have issues with the endowment ceremony, know that doing proxy work is not a prequisite for going into the Celestial room. The temple is not just a place to do work for others, but to also commune with God. It is certainly permissable to go to the Temple, put on your whites, and make your way into the Celestial room for some quiet time.

  67. Liz, a beautiful commentary on the challenges of dealing with loss from a miscarried pregnancy. Your post and many of the comments that follow provide in my mind a wonderful extension to Sam’s post from last year on dealing with the physical loss and grief that surfaces and continues to swell underneath the surface for those mothers and the fathers who support them when they experience such loss.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/04/04/for-r-in-miserable-days/

    My wife lost her first pregnancy at 24 weeks and for the year that followed I felt like I had lost her as she struggled with the grief that ensued. I cannot begin to fully comprehend what she experienced but I was beside her during the day and held her many nights as she sobbed inconsolably. I too shook my fists at the heavens and expressed some angry prayers that I’m not sure I’ve yet repented of. Even 13 years later the emotions well up raw and painful from what I felt myself and witnessed in the suffering of the woman I love.

    My own mother later expressed that she never fully grasped the personal nature of such loss until she experienced it vicariously through the dashed hopes and anticipation of a grandchild who passed before we had a chance to meet her. Holding that little one pound baby who never took a breath, suddenly it took on a new meaning and the light bulb lit for her that this was the very real desperation that many women around her had experienced and she had discounted throughout her life wondering why they would become so overwrought over the loss of a fetus.

    My solace at the time came in the quiet moments as I turned to a Savior who I believe experienced everything, pain, sickness, infirmities (Alma 7:11-12) that He might know how to succor each of us in our infirmities. I witnessed tender mercies that were of small significance to the world about us but of enormous import to a grieving mother. And from watching my wife I can recognize that there are times when the comforting arms of a loving mother are so desperately needed and the opportunity to be heard and loved by a Mother in Heaven would provide such a solace. She is there, I know, and She too hears our prayers.

  68. #57, and #63: Amen forever and ever. Thank you both for your wise words.

    One additional thought, for those who assert that Heavenly Father can empathize with female pain. It just makes me wonder: Mormons believe that all people have the potential to become like God. If men are to become like this Heavenly Father, then they must be able to understand pain such as described in the OP. How do you suppose that happens?

  69. (I must add, though, that I do believe Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can empathize with all pain. I also believe that Heavenly Mother might be uniquely qualified when it comes to female empathy.)

  70. Thank you. Beautifully done.

  71. I suppose if we’re going to emphasize the literal Father-ness of God, we should go whole hog. I for one have had a terrible time accepting a Deity with a singular gender at all. Its always seemed much more conceivable to believe in a God without plumbing. I also really hate it when we bring up God the Father on fathers day (or a Heavenly Mother on MD) – like our relationship with the great God of the Universe is anything like being a son or a daughter of an earthly father or mother. (we like to talk like it is – but its not) I also really don’t like going through a whole sacrament meeting with barely a mention of Jesus (but a lot of mentioning of the Father). Jesus is the center after all – the Father makes that clear.

    So, within the current Mormon landscape, I can totally undersand a yearning for a Mother in Heaven and I would never discount the personal interactions people might have with Her. I just think the calls to focus more on the Son are anything but insensitive and dismissive. Its Jesus we’re talking about here. And if there is a Heavenly Mother, she also sent Him to die for us – and to stand at the very center of the plan. The Father seems to defer to the Son throughout the scriptures and modern Church history, and so (I have to conclude) does She.

    Thanks for sharing Liz. You’ve reminded me of the great power that comes from personal prayer and communion.

  72. I also want to add that a God who is *limited* b/c of His or Her gender, is not a God I want to worship.

  73. can something be infinite and also limited? .. like the set of all even numbers, or natural numbers…

    What does it mean that gender is eternal? Are there eternal differences between women and men? Is the need of a woman for a woman to understand her…is that mortal?

    It is absolutely true that pain separates. In the moment it is so surreal to watch life go on for other people. Even among women who have miscarried…every miscarriage is so different. My husband’s experience when I miscarry is painful…but it is different. We both have to work at understanding each other and accept the differences not only in pain but in grieving.

    I do absolutely believe that Christ can completely understand every pain and physical feeling. I do. I believe He understands miscarriage, and childbirth, and infertility…among many other uniquely female concerns. I don’t think he needs particular body parts to understand any more than he needs to have any number of specific circumstances that make our pain unique.

    What are we supposed to do when we are told gender is unique and eternal. Women nurture. They have a mother heart even when they don’t have children…they have some sort of unique…something…until heaven at which point men have it all covered except for childbirth? or is Heavenly father not limited in that either?

  74. For me personally, I don’t think gender is enough when it comes to understanding pain. For example, I wouldn’t think that Heavenly Mother would understand how I feel going through infertility, even though she’s a woman and I’m a woman. Only an infinite Atonement could accomplish that.

  75. I just want to say thank you for sharing this. I’ve suffered 4 miscarriages and understand the pain and desire to reach for Heavenly Mother.

  76. For Liz and anyone else who cares to take a stab at it:
    I’m sincerely trying to understand the implications of the OP. It seems that the yearning for Mother in Heaven is (for a lot of people) stemming from experiences/pain that is uniquely feminine. Yet, how does one look to Mother in Heaven for gender specific understanding while at the same time value the “pains and and affliction of *every kind*” that Jesus suffered? Is it that you don’t accept the scriptures literally? I’m really interested in what you think – b/c I don’t know how you do it. I don’t look to Heavenly Father for male specific understanding and succor. I look to Jesus (which has nothing to do with his gender, but the act he performed for the human family)

    Thanks for your patience ~

  77. Liz Johnson says:

    @CTJ – You know, it’s an interesting question and one I hadn’t necessarily anticipated when I wrote the post. I guess what I was trying to convey was that I hadn’t even really conceptualized a Heavenly Mother beyond a bare sketch until I had this experience. And it wasn’t that I didn’t feel peace or succor from my Heavenly Father and through the Atonement – I definitely did. I found a lot of peace and comfort and reassurance through my grief that I was known, and that I could be healed from my grief through Christ’s Atonement. But for me, it was kind of a bizarre experience to pray to a Heavenly Father and try to feel like He (or Christ) understood, on a very raw & physical level, what it was like to physically deliver a dead baby. And again, it wasn’t that I didn’t feel heard or understood, it just gave me a strong desire to explore the idea of a Heavenly Mother, and how She could possibly relate to my pain. What is Her role with regards to the Atonement? What is Her role in relating with Her children? How does She fit into this conception of Deity that, before this experience, had basically been universally male in my mind? If we really do have a Heavenly Mother, and I believe that we do, then how does this all fit together? And the conclusion I’ve come to so far is that I basically have no idea, but I have a strong testimony through this experience that She does exist, and that She knows my pain. I tend to believe that, on some level, she was part of the holy feeling that I felt during the experience.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe that the Atonement is complete in terms of Christ. But I’d like to know how my Heavenly Mother fits into it, and into the grand scheme of things.

  78. That makes some sense Liz. Thanks.

  79. Thank you, Liz, for that additional comment. It was beautifully said.

  80. If there were a sacred room, perhaps it would have two mirrors in it. And if you’re going to have two mirrors, you may as well have them face each other. Because that would reveal the infinite that resides in all who enter the room. This understanding extends to both of the sexes and both of the trees that started this whole business.

    Between the mirrors is an altar. And every woman goes there, either to put her life on the line to birth a child or to confront the cosmos on why she somehow does not get to risk her life in this regard. The feminine soul is harrowed in either case. Covenants are cuts, and birth is no different. The womb will not allow a woman to forget this stewardship of either bringing or not bringing a child into mortality with her. This is blood work and veil work, all at once. This is Eve taking all women to that altar with her, including the assumption that a womb will function properly. With a decision in a garden.

    Christ also made a decision in a garden. And the result was similar: blood loss. The price of performing holy veil work in a fallen world is high, and Christ’s nod to Eve is not coincidental or ambiguous. He went to that altar to _meet_ all women. He went where no other mortal man could go. He did this to reflect what women do. He also did so, in part, to begin to understand the price women pay at that altar. And the results were such that none of the births or non-births would occur in vain. Immortality will come to all children, and motherhood to all faithful women. The sting of death is swallowed up in this meeting. The veils are two in number, just like the mirrors, trees and sexes. In all cases, the ordinances are responses to what occurs at the womb. We must all pass through.

    If women are stewards over the womb in mortality, then they are sovereigns over it in godhood. That is the consequence of Eve’s decision and Christ’s that followed. So logic follows that they work the same veil in the next life, merely from the other side. I think the OP encounters a sense of Heavenly Mother in her experience because all wombs, mortal and immortal, are Her jurisdiction. Hence the OP makes perfect sense in her logic and conclusions.

    And the mark? The mark is God. So seeking Heavenly Mother isn’t seeking beyond it in the slightest.

  81. I know this is a cooling thread, but I wanted to share my appreciation for your writing, Liz. What beautiful description. What important thoughts. I’ve also appreciated reading down through everyone’s posts. I’ve not cried like this for awhile. I had three miscarriages, but they were not like this. I was blessed with six children who’ve bounced around me and constantly taken my mind off what might have been. But I knelt in front of my daughter a few years ago as she had the same experience you did, and I knew grief something like yours. I looked into her husband’s eyes, eyes that are burned into my memory, as he stood helpless in a grief that was overpowering to us all. As today has proved, I can still call to mind all those feelings, that wave of tremendous longing and loss. I can’t speak to whether Gods, male or female, can feel all things, but from my own experience I don’t believe one has to have an experience to feel profound empathy and sympathy. It is not a stretch to me to think that God can succor all things.

    In the same breath, I have yearned with many of the more eloquently-spoken commenters to know something, anything about a heavenly mother. Despite my profound sympathy for people who were denied priesthood ordinances and sealing blessings because of their race, for the men anyway, they were eventually given, and they know to what they look forward. I don’t. I have a lot of history with God, and I trust him that it’s worthwhile, but this is all a great act of faith. I have lately wondered about what is being withheld because we haven’t asked. I even wrote about it on my own blog last month. It is no longer a stretch to me to believe that prophets haven’t revealed much about our mother because it hasn’t been on their radar as an issue. Still, as Thomas said in #57, nothing is withheld from the consistent seeker, and we are our own prophets and prophetesses by covenant.

    I have had my own profound, if fleeting, experiences with my Heavenly Mother, and I know she is there. I don’t know what she does, but I know she loves me and is aware of me and has real succor to give. We are told that what we do in next estates is similar in character to what we do here, and I can’t conceive of being unavailable to my children. My mother is there, and I will continue to seek her. I have to say, it was profoundly validating to hear men on this thread assert that they also need her, that they valued their mothers and honored what they could imagine a mother divine offering them. You have no idea how sometimes challenging it is to worship in a church that does not discuss its feminine divine in terms other than submission.

  82. I’ve just finished reading Kevin Barney’s “How to Worship our Mother in Heaven (without getting excommunicated)” and Daniel Peterson’s “Nephi & His Asherah” and wanted to thank you, Liz, for providing the first link that sent me on this journey. Already a fan of Margaret Barker, I’m also going to look into “The Great Angel.” What a wonderful conclusion to a very interesting evening. I feel a lot of loose ends coming together. If for no other reason than to begin to settle this, I’m glad to have stumbled into the bloggernacle. Thank you for being here.

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