Some months ago, I was out shopping and happened across a former seminary student of mine in the store. I taught her many years ago. She was an excellent, pleasant student and contributed much to her class. She approached me and we chatted about old times. Soon, she mentioned that she was now serving as a stake Relief Society president and asked if I might be willing to give the keynote address in her upcoming stake Relief Society conference on a Saturday morning about three months from then. I told her I would be delighted to and asked if they had picked out a theme. They had; it was “A Perfect Brightness of Hope,” taken from 2 Nephi 31:20.
Consequently, I began to think about various applications of Nephi’s counsel to “press forward…having a perfect brightness of hope” and especially the implications it might have for the Relief Society sisters. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was more than counsel and even approached the status of a commandment. It was, in effect, saying that we should have a perfect brightness of hope for attaining exaltation. We should plan on it! As I continued analyzing, I thought, for just a few brief moments, that that might be a bit arrogant and inappropriate. But, I thought to myself, if it is strong counsel and even a commandment contained in the scriptures, it cannot be wrong or prideful to apply it to our lives.
And so I began, over several weeks, to think of what effect following this inspired instruction of Nephi might have on mothers, especially during their child-rearing years when demands on their time, energy, and sanity can become very intense. It impacts and is noticeable likewise in grandmothers and even great grandmothers. Ideas began to gather in my mind and I soon realized that this “perfect hope” sets some mothers apart from all others. It makes them more effective and more resilient to setbacks. It allows them to experience considerably more joy and satisfaction in the daily, never-ending demands of being a mother. It makes their marriages happier and life in general more rewarding and satisfying. As a deep and abiding part of their core being, it creates an underlying humble confidence, based in faith, that is powerfully enabling. It strongly impacts these mothers’ effectiveness as nurturers and co-creators with God.
As my talk for the Relief Society conference came together, I realized that my own mother was a great example of this extra ingredient, as is my wife. Examples from their lives and the lives of great women in scripture came to mind and were incorporated into the talk. The whole experience was a delightful and revealing journey of discovery and application of the “perfect brightness of hope” principle.
And so, after a discussion with my publisher, Cedar Fort, the preparation and delivery of that address became the basis for the writing of the booklet, “A Mother’s Perfect Hope.” I was able to add things to the booklet that time did not permit in the talk. This bright hope and confidence makes for a more stable and enriched environment for children raised by such mothers. It does indeed make stronger homes and happier marriages along with making life in general more satisfying and meaningful. It took longer than I planned on to write the booklet, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Ed. Note: “A Mother’s Perfect Hope” will be released on March 11, 2014, and is available for pre-order from online retailers.
David J. Ridges taught for the Church Educational System for 35 years and has taught for several years at BYU Campus Education Week. He taught adult religion classes and Know your Religion classes for BYU Continuing Education for many years. He has also served as a curriculum writer for Sunday School, Seminary, and Institute of Religion manuals.