To me, Mary is a sacred symbol as well as spiritual evidence to all of mankind of the worth and dignity of the sacred calling of every woman, as a mother. As we study the life of Mary, the mother of the Savior of the world, the pattern of motherhood is clearly marked.
In bringing forth her first born son, Mary was given a clear knowledge of who He was and, with this understanding, set herself, with Joseph by her side, to ensuring that Jesus was taught in all the ways of God -- that He might be prepared to fulfill His mission here upon earth.
Likewise, as Latter-day Saint parents, we know that every child, brought into our homes, is a literal son or daughter of God, with a divine inheritance that must be claimed, in order to receive it. To help them fulfill that mission, while here upon the earth, parents must tutor their children, in the ways of God, until they are ready to exercise their own God-given agency to choose it for themselves.
There is no greater call than to be a teacher. By divine decree, mothers are called to nurture, which is to teach. Mothers nurture as they guide their children in learning how to listen to that still small voice, given to them when they entered into this world. This critical preparation, while they are young, prepares them to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, at the time of their baptism.
Like Mary, the time comes, when we must trust that we have taught our children well, to take a step back and allow the Spirit to move our children forward on their own path toward Eternal Life. And like Mary, who briefly panicked when Jesus, at the age of only 12, wandered off to be about His Father's business, learn to trust this holy process. Although Jesus, perfect, never once deviated from the course that He was destined, through the power of His Atoning mission, has assured every one of us, that when course corrections are necessary He has prepared the way that we may do so.
Every Latter-day Saint mother comes to fully understand the great gift of the Atonement, as she takes that difficult, inevitable step of having to stand back herself. From this point on, she becomes an observer to the lives of her children. Mistakes are made, many seemingly fatal. Without the Atonement, spiritual death would result.
Again, I emphasize that which I have expressed many times before, but it is through my own journey, as a mother, that the deepest meaning of the Atonement has manifested itself to me personally. Without the Atonement I would lose my children. With it, I have hope of that promised Eternal Family, that we live for daily -- as we keep sacred covenants made in holy temples of God.
Knowing the happy ending, generally, does not make the process, or journey, easy. Mary is most often recorded, in scripture, as being alongside of, or nearby, in various accounts in the life of her son, Jesus. All mothers become familiar with this status, in the lives of their own children. Often times, much of what we witness is of concern. And like Mary, we must learn to have faith in God's plan and trust that the promised blessings, for all of us, will come.
Mary, during her own earthly life, was ultimately given full knowledge that her son had accomplished the work He was sent here to do. How glorious and magnificent that must have been! That was her great gift, given by a loving Heavenly Father -- to the Mother of the Son of God.
And like Mary, we also, because of her Son, have an assurance that the exaltation of our children, by covenant, is fixed and immovable! There is no greater peace, for any mother, than to have such a knowledge.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).
New Bible Video: Mary, the Mother of Jesus
WBMW on Motherhood: