Editor’s note: This narrative is part of a Church News series titled “Women of Covenant,” in which women of the Church discuss their personal experiences with priesthood power and share what they have learned through following President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to “labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power — priesthood power” (“Spiritual Treasures,” general conference, October 2019).
Motherhood. This is the word I think of when asked to respond to a personal experience with priesthood. Both of these words, priesthood and motherhood, evoke diverse emotions among women in the Church.
What is the connection that exists between motherhood and priesthood — the two greatest manifestations of God’s power on the earth? No discussion of the priesthood is complete unless it includes with equal weight, a reverence and dedication to the position of women and the gift of nurturing and creating life.
These two powers, priesthood and motherhood, form the whole of God’s power on earth. One without the other loses more than half of its strength because the completed union is more than the sum of the parts. President Joy Jones stated in her April 2020 general conference talk , “Brothers and sisters, we all seek God’s power in our lives. There is a beautiful unity between women and men in accomplishing God’s work today.”
Valuing motherhood elevates the status and education of a child. Once a child is placed at the center of a nurturing relationship and given priority, men and women can figure out the details of their family life.
Following worldly norms can lead us to a place of great dissatisfaction. Is it possible that the long history of male dominance in the world has led many to confuse the balance between the role of the priesthood and the significance of motherhood and the importance of children? Even as members of the church, it is easy to lose the essence of the connection between men and women which in turn leaves us with unbalanced relationships. If we can remain truer to the teachings in our scriptures, hold on to the spiritual core of our relationships, and support and love one another, it will be possible to find ourselves as partners and parents, capable of edifying the whole to complete the circle of the new and everlasting covenant.
Motherhood is inclusive. It comes to all of us directly through our own marriage and children or directly through our advocacy and support of mothers, children, families, teachers, nurturers, caregivers, volunteers, and all those who participate in lifting and building the world in which we live. Placing a high priority on children and families, protecting the space of childhood, and valuing the nurturers, gives a child a chance to grow and sets society on a path to progress.
I have been blessed with an extraordinary mother and father and come from a legacy of thoughtful, righteous women. My own mother would frequently tell me stories of her mother and her grandmothers. The resilient nature of the Petersen women in my family is legendary.
My mother demonstrated what was expected and emphasized how much work is involved in the process of keeping a marriage together, helping children become strong, and learning how to hold on to belief. My aunts, friends, father, and uncles were also profound role models for me and helped me to see the complexities and goodness of life. All those who value motherhood create a safe place in which a child, an individual, a colleague, can thrive.
President Nelson has told us that women who live their covenants have the priesthood power in their homes, “If you are endowed but not currently married to a man who bears the priesthood and someone says to you, ‘I’m sorry you do not have the priesthood in your home,’ please understand that that statement is incorrect. You may not have a priesthood bearer in your home, but you have received and made sacred covenants with God in His temple. From those covenants flows an endowment of His priesthood power upon you” (“Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019 general conference).
Our making and keeping of sacred covenants protects, sustains, and directs us. Through our priesthood covenants women and men find access to the power of God, priesthood power. The gift of the Holy Ghost guides our lives, leaving “the heavens just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing through their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood. … Every woman and every man who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants, and who participates worthily in priesthood ordinances, has direct access to the power of God” (“Spiritual Treasures” October 2019 general conference).
Motherhood and priesthood are expressions of God’s power on this earth and are made one through the covenant of eternal marriage. The joining of a man and a woman forms a powerful whole that is essential to sustaining physical and spiritual life. Valuing and understanding the power of motherhood, expands the definition of the priesthood, lifts children, and brings equilibrium to our relationships.
I am grateful for President Nelson’s challenge to study the scriptures and to broaden my own perspective on priesthood power. I know that the Lord guides and directs this church and I am so thankful for my membership. I pray that as we continue to come to Christ, we will be open to understanding and continued progress. I love my Savior Jesus Christ.