Missy McConkie

Teaching the Mormon Heavenly Mother: "Women want to know her"

Missy McConkie

Missy McConkie

A guest post by Missy McConkie

Last month I gathered with a group of wonderful women (and one brave man who came with his wife) in the home of my Relief Society President to discuss one of my favorite and most closely-held topics: our Heavenly Mother.

I’ll never forget that beautiful night.

I won’t say it was a seamless experience getting it off the ground. When the announcement was made, reactions ranged from opposed, to skeptical, to hesitant to elated. Fortunately I have a Relief Society president who was a great advocate for me, so we moved forward.

I made ten handouts, hoping that I wasn’t going to be guilty of wasting paper (especially here in environmentally-conscious Portland) if only my few closest friends showed up.

But based on the 30+ women who crammed into the living room, I realized what I already knew in my heart: women want to know Her. I am not alone in my yearning.

I have heard many times that we have enough to handle just sticking to the “basics” of the gospel; if God (Heavenly Father) wants us to know about our Mother, He’ll tell us.

But what if He -- They -- already have?

To me, Heavenly Mother is basic Plan of Salvation 101: where we came from, why we’re here, and who we can become. And if light and truth lead to more light and truth, line upon line, how can we expect more revelation if we do nothing with what we currently have?

We talk so much in this church about both God and motherhood, it seems strange to me that we skip over the obvious: God the Mother. (And by “Mother” I’m not just talking about an eternal womb.)

But there’s good reason for our discomfort. Though there has never been a church-mandated silence about Her, the lack of direct rhetoric regarding Her makes us uneasy to have these discussions.

My purpose was not to “prove” She exists any more than our church meetings are to prove Heavenly Father exists. I stayed on very safe ground. I tried to make the format familiar, passing out little pieces of paper with quotes (mostly from men, of course) for individuals to read aloud.

I wanted to show how much actually has been said about Her, point people toward resources, invite the Spirit to be with us, and let them form their own conclusions. (This handout is downloadable at the bottom of the post if you would like to use it in a Relief Society meeting or for your personal study.)

There wasn’t a golden-ticket quote or anything radically new, especially for those already familiar with David Paulsen’s BYU Studies article “A Mother There.”

On the other hand, that was exactly the beauty of the night. We may not have everything about Her spelled out and perfectly clear, but when you begin to compile the things we do know—things that have been explicitly said—a beautiful picture emerges.

The real success of the night was that we had this conversation at all. It wasn’t scary. The house didn’t get struck by lighting. We didn’t wander off into the mists of darkness and get lost.

In fact, the Spirit was there and I felt closer to these women. I looked around and saw literal daughters of our Heavenly Mother. I see pieces of Her in each one of us, and that view of my sisters has changed me.

So what’s the next step?

Of course I love the romantic notion of throngs of women and men suddenly coming to know our Heavenly Mother. Then I remember that the Savior’s ministry, though intended for all of humankind, was often brought about one on one.

It’s okay. We have time. We can’t push people to care about things the way we want them to. There may be some who find this heretical, others who find it interesting-but-not-compelling.

There will also be those who are deeply moved, both to know their Heavenly Mother exists and that there are others searching for Her. We are not alone.

Change is coming. She is returning. I see it in private conversation. I hear it in sacrament talks when people refer to Heavenly Parents and not just Heavenly Father. I feel the questions arising, and it’s the questions that lead to discoveries. They’re small changes, for now, but it’s a start. Line upon line.

As for me, I pray for Wisdom. I pray for an open heart. Not other people’s hearts, mind you. My heart. I want to be ready to meet my sisters where they are, and help them discover the path that has meant so much to me, and still does. I pray for unity and love. I pray for Wisdom in our midst.

We are daughters of our Heavenly Parents who love us, and we love Them.

Downloadable packet for use in lessons and talks: Heavenly Mother Handout

Missy McConkie lives in Portland with her husband and three children. She enjoys being outdoors, meditating and working with the charity Kenya Keys, a grassroots organization that helps provide educational opportunities for children in rural Kenya.