Of all the characteristics of Heavenly Mother, this is probably the least controversial: Heavenly Mother is the mother of our souls. This has been stated by numerous prophets, general authorities, and female church leaders. To quote a few:
“This divine entreaty is consistent with the fact that, as begotten children of heavenly parents, we are endowed with the potential to become like them, just as mortal children may become like their mortal parents.”
Prophet Russell M. Nelson, Perfection Pending, October 1995
“We are the literal spirit children of divine, immortal, and omnipotent Heavenly Parents.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, O How Great the Plan of Our God! October 2016
“You have light because you are literally spirit daughters of Deity, ‘offspring of exalted parents’ with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. You received your first lessons in the world of spirits from your heavenly parents.”
Julie B. Beck, Young Women General Presidency, You Have a Noble Birthright, April 2006
“You are literally the spirit daughters of Heavenly Parents, and nothing can separate you from Their love and the love of your Savior.”
President Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President, Beloved Daughters, October 2019
“Have you ever been told you are just like your mother, or you have your father’s smile, or all of your family have the same color of eyes? The physical characteristics that we inherit from our parents are obvious. The spiritual characteristics we inherit from our heavenly parents have to be developed. You have been born with all the godlike gifts that Christ has. They are within you, but you have to choose to cultivate and develop them. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen without our best efforts.”
President Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President, Identity of a Young Woman, November 1989
But, what does this knowledge matter?
I have three daughters. My co-author has three daughters. We’ve talked to lots of women about where they are in life and the fact that we all need soul development. We decided to write A Girls Guide to Heavenly Mother partially for our tweens because they needed more information and more understanding of the universe and how it worked, but also because we regularly see that women don’t make choices to invest in their own souls.
I was speaking to a woman recently and she said, “I can’t go back and study. I want to go get this degree and I’m interested in this but I can’t go do this because there’s no return on investment. It doesn’t make sense financially to do this.” I thought about that, and thought, “You know, I take my daughter to soccer practice regularly and we invest in equipment and lessons and coaches and whatever NOT because I expect her to be a professional soccer player and to ever pay me back– but because I know it’s good for her to use her body and learn teamwork, etc.”
I believe in developing her soul.
Eva Whitesman said,”Our pursuit of knowledge has its own spiritual value regardless of whether we ever enter the paid labor force…Our learning is of value not only if we become mothers or workers, church leaders or community activists. We are of value because of our divine heritage and because of what will one day be our divine inheritance. Our value is not merely instrumental. It is intrinsic. Our learning is not merely instrumental. It is essential.”
Where did it come that women somehow quit thinking that our soul was worth this investment?
A few years ago I did a project on wise women in my life. One of these is a woman who taught me that her soul was worth investing in. What is amazing to me is that when she told me of her situation and choices, I was floored. My literal thought was, “Are you allowed to do that?” and then followed by a quick, “Duh.”
I know I forgot. Recently when my husband and I were planning the family budget we already had a line item for the expenses for our girls, and I looked at it and thought, “Wait. I need to embody what I have learned. I need a line item too!”
Soul development doesn’t have to be about money. A friend of mine recently called upon her family to support her so that one night a week she could hole up in her bedroom and paint. Another friend has a weekly “My Night”… where she can write or sleep or read or do whatever, where she gets to be a human developing her soul.
Both of these women fight off the guilt of taking time “away” from their family life. Guilt about doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing in this earth life: growing!
There are serious amounts of soul development that come from service and especially the intense service we render in our families. Soul development does not necessarily have to take us outside of our families. But as the painter friend told me, “I have strong muscles developed in one area of my life and total atrophy in almost every other.”Knowledge of Heavenly Mother changes us. If we know that our destiny is heavenly motherhood that means that our souls—I won’t speak for you, but my soul—has to do a fair amount of development! There’s a gap between the state of my soul and the state of Heavenly Mother’s soul, like there’s a gap between being human and god. We have to continue to grow and develop. That’s what this whole earth life is about!
Women can stall out or see their souls as not worth that kind of development. But however that looks like at the end of the day: time, energy, money, resources, pushing away guilt, etc, we have to understand our destinies as godhood. That means it’s going to take some vital soul development.
Sister Bingham said, “Our Heavenly Parents want us to succeed gloriously!” One of the most beautiful take-home messages about Heavenly Mother is having another all-powerful deity in my court who wants me to succeed, who is interested in nurturing my soul.
That’s all good.