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You Never Know: Why the Mormon Message Might Not Mean What You Think It Means

Business 101

My first day in business school I learned about opportunity cost. It blew my mind. (I was young.)

The opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.

You Never Know - Mormon Message

Anytime you use a resource (time, money, energy) for one purpose, you are choosing not to use the same resource for any other purpose.

This is a concept far too few people (Mormons and not) understand. When they say yes to something, they are saying no to a bunch of other somethings. I’ll get back to this later.

Babysitters Rock

My daughter Monica was recently featured in another Mormon Message. When it aired last week she asked me what I thought. Here are my thoughts in order: 

  • That babysitter is awesome. (Seriously.)
  • I hope the mom still paid the babysitter. (Do not stiff my kid!)
  • So that’s what the set looked like. (I sat outside on the grass during the filming and read a book.)
  • The kickback is predictable and the kickers aren’t forgiving. (I should know, sometimes I’m one of them.)
  • But seriously, why didn’t the mom ever say no?

It’s Not All About the Bass

When you have only a few minutes to tell a sweeping story, artistry is pushed to the limit. Backstory, dialogue, realism, emotion, it’s an epic assignment. So first, let me tell you what this Mormon Message did not preach:

  1. Good Mormon women make to do lists (on pink paper)
  2. Good Mormon women are blonde
  3. Good Mormon women are thin
  4. Good Mormon women must always do whatever they are asked
  5. Good Mormon women cannot have boundaries
  6. Good Mormon women always cook a hot breakfast
  7. Good Mormon women let their kids eat crap when the kids are bratty and acting entitled
  8. Good Mormon women braid hair
  9. Good Mormon women stop everything to finish school assignments for kids who “forgot”
  10. Good Mormon women drive vans
  11. Good Mormon women wear mascara
  12. Good Mormon women babysit everyone else’s kids, any time of day or night, no matter what
  13. Good Mormon women spend a lot of time doing crafty Pinterest projects
  14. Good Mormon women must make dinner whenever notified at the last minute
  15. Good Mormon women (particularly good stay-at-home Mormon women (which, come on, are really the only good Mormon women anyway…)) must have ample healthy and tasty leftovers to supply their wayward career sisters with impromptu picnic lunches
  16. Good Mormon women don’t work because it makes them self-centered
  17. Good Mormon women must only say “shoot” if frustrated
  18. Good Mormon women never buy takeout for families with new babies
  19. Good Mormon women never take an uncooked casserole to a neighbor and ask them to put it in the oven themselves
  20. Good Mormon women always do a “breath check” to ensure good oral hygiene
  21. Good Mormon women dump long held plans with their cousins to do whatever they are asked
  22. Good Mormon women keep their eyes open during family prayer
  23. Good Mormon women must be martyrs
  24. Add your own! It’s fun!

Reality Bites

The lesson of this short video is something different.

Real people aren’t perfect. Somedays we try really hard; somedays we don’t. Somedays we try to help one person and end up hurting another. Somedays we accomplish a lot and others are spent spinning our wheels. Sometimes we prioritize well and sometimes it’s a disaster. Sometimes we try the wrong way. Sometimes bad things happen that are out of our control and many times our wounds are (largely) self-inflicted. Sometimes we over-schedule, really thinking we can do all the things we commit to, and are incredibly wrong.

Some questions and possible answers about the fictional mom’s decisions:

  • Should the mom have made the second breakfast? I almost never do, but in some cases I would. (Heck, I rarely make the first, but…)
  • Should the mom have helped her son with his “forgotten” project? I try to let my kids experience the consequences of their choices, but sometimes I pull out all the stops and help rescue them.
  • Should the mom have agreed to babysit the little girl? Given the outcome shown in the video, probably so.
  • Should the mom have met her sister for lunch or told her she was busy? Sometimes I don’t meet the requests of my siblings, sometimes they take priority. (Sometimes even when the situation seems trivial.)
  • Should the mom have agreed to take dinner to the family? I almost never agree to last minute requests and, instead, request a date that works. But sometimes I do change my plans.
  • Should the mom have missed a previously scheduled event with her cousin? Although generally the first commitment takes priority, I have sometimes allowed newer commitments to override older ones.

In other words, for this particular mom on this particular day, perhaps everything she chose to do was the right thing to do. And even if it wasn’t, it reflects the reality we all deal with: even trying our best, we aren’t perfect.

I Assume You Love Yourself Because You Do

The scriptures tell us  “love they neighbor as thyself.” Hundreds of times I’ve heard this described thusly:  “we must love ourselves in order to love others.” But it doesn’t say that. Instead, the scripture assumes self-love. The scriptures tell us to use the love we do have for ourselves as a model for how we should love others.

In the same way, a realistic story can only be told by assuming some of the things that are generally (or at least often) true for those who will hear it. So, given all the truths about our imperfections, given the fact that we are sometimes miserably ill-equipped and unprepared and hopelessly bungle things, the message is that we are still acceptable to God. And not just that! Even with all the mistakes, we still do more good than we realize.

Bottom Line

Sometimes the message is to say no. Sometimes the message is to prioritize. Sometimes the message is opportunity cost. But not today.

In case you missed the real message here — the one that is resonating with so many people even if it’s not resonating exactly, specifically with you — is this:

Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient.

We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do.

You never know how much good you do.

{ 67 comments… add one }
  • Moonhead September 21, 2014, 9:35 pm

    Great comments. Us this the same one who was on the New area cover? It looks like her with shorter hair.

  • Tiffany W September 22, 2014, 5:14 am

    I was prepared to dislike the film short, but I watched it twice and loved it. I loved how this mom was shown in messy imperfection and how much good she did, even though she couldn’t see it.

    I loved your list of what the message did not say or show.

  • IDIAT September 22, 2014, 9:37 am

    Thanks for this. I don’t know why some sisters have had such a visceral reaction to a video with a relatively simple message. We don’t know all the backstory to many of the things she has on her check list. All we have is about 8 minutes of a 12 hour day. I think some people are way over thinking the video.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 22, 2014, 9:09 am

    Moonhead (hah, are you a Jessie J fan?), thank you. Yes, same girl. 🙂

    Tiffany, glad you liked it, too. When talking to my daughter I told her that I wished the mom had said, “I’m sorry, I can’t take dinner tonight, but I can do it Thursday.” And I wished more of the life craziness were out of her control rather than self-imposed. But often — in real life — it’s only in hindsight that we see we took on too much or should have chosen differently.

    Doing lots of things doesn’t make me feel bad. Doing lots of GOOD things isn’t a downer. But feeling like I’ve spent the day crazy busy with nothing to show for it IS what makes for frustration.

    Being reminded that we don’t always see the impact of our work is a valuable lesson particularly, frankly, for stay-at-home moms who don’t get a pay raise or a preferred parking slot or a company sales award or the corner office. It’s not like most of our kids are telling us day in and day out that we are awesome sauce either. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…6th Grade Reading List: Teen Pregnancy, Rape, and GangsMy Profile

  • singinghart September 22, 2014, 4:12 pm

    I’ve been meaning to write such a blog post as this. It came up first as a facebook discussion and then again as a closing thought from an impromptu speaker during Sacrament mtg. Thank you for sharing this without angry or condemnation to those who see the video as something else.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 22, 2014, 4:18 pm

    IDIAT, as someone who generally likes to “overthink” things, I understand the reaction. The problem is, I know that the church doesn’t promote being a martyr for the compassionate service committee, so I looked for the real message.

    One woman wrote on Facebook:

    It would be interesting to have the video end with this quote instead. For me this message matches the scenario better than the Pres. Hinckley quote (as much as I love and totally agree with the Pres. Hinckley quote) .

    “It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.” -Chieko Okazaki

    This would have been a fabulous conclusion. The problem is that men are the only church authorities and, thus, we rarely quote women because they are just giving their opinions. Right? Phhhttt.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Scrumptious Greek SaladMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith September 22, 2014, 4:28 pm

    I’d like to quote the post friend made on Facebook about this. I won’t use her name unless she gives her permission, but she made some very valid points that deserved to be saved for posterity rather than lost down her Facebook feed.

    Hi, Alison Moore Smith. I appreciated your blog. It seems by many of the comments here that many others, like you, have been capable of reading between the lines on this video to make the message better match things many Mormon women know about the love Heavenly Father has for us. I applaud people who can give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt because I sincerely believe they meant well. I am going to try one more time to explain the problems I have, without going into a scene by scene critique here because that’s all been done.

    The church may never feel that they should be obligated to address any of the PR problems they’ve had recently regarding women’s issues among many people on the outside looking in, who don’t fully understand our culture or doctrine. Or even among those who do understand and wish some things could change. It’s well within the church’s right to take that stance, so what a non Mormon or even ex Mormon may think of the film may be mostly irrelevant. ( though I’ve been under the impression that these videos are meant to play somewhat of a missionary role…)

    The problem for me is the huge problem we have in our culture with depression among women who have erroneously come to believe that to be a good Mormon you really have to disregard all of your own needs. With so many conference talks and concern that the church has shown in other places to try to fix that, I was surprised to see such a glorification of martyrdom in this film. It isn’t enough for me to imagine, “well I’ll bet the next day was better.” Because I saw no evidence that would be the case. She seemed to believe, a little sadly, as the sweet boy’s prayer said, that ALL of the important things got taken care of that day. And she was not on that list. I guess to me that was really sad. And then to see a montage of all the big things that would have gotten messed up if she had made a few adjustments to the things she took on that day or not said yes to everything, it seemed very overwhelming.

    I know that others see all of this differently. I personally believe that the wonderful message by President Hinckley at the end could have been illustrated without some of these problems.

    Another issue to me was this idea that we were supposed to relate to how imperfect she was and then be happy when we saw the good she did, but really, I was thinking from the beginning she was much more charitable and “perfect” than I, yet not very happy.

    I could go on, but I have already upset enough people. I’ve gotten some private messages with pressure to take down this post and apologize. But I really wanted other women who might be depressed by this movie to know that you can be a faithful Mormon and still not be in love with this film. I appreciate the intent, maybe if there had been a screening with a diverse cross section of women, some of the troubles could have been avoided.

    For me, I could have been happy if they took out or changed the job conversation, and then had her either bring over a cold casserole or pizza to the baby family. Maybe she’d feel dumb about that but the montage would show they loved it anyway. And also in the montage it could show how important it was to her cousin that she kept their appointment. And the way the friendship blessed them both. But that’s just me. I won’t apologize for not liking it, and yet I’m still happy for those who were able to overlook or not see problems, and be uplifted by it somehow.

    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Slow Cooker Enchilada LasagneMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart September 22, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Thank you, thank you, Alison for posting your friend’s Facebook post; I needed it!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 22, 2014, 6:21 pm

    You’re welcome, Amy.

    I haven’t had a chance to comment on my friend’s thoughts — daughter just had wisdom teeth out, poor thing! — but I’m appalled that someone told her to take it down and apologize. As if Being a Good Mormon requires you to gush over every Mormon Message or something. For the love of Pete, this is where we start getting crazy. (A crazy I experience daily in the Bloggernacle.)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Clean One-Pan PastaMy Profile

  • Holly September 22, 2014, 10:54 pm

    Your daughter has been popping up all over! I noticed right away that it was her. (Only because you mentioned it was your daughter in the bullying video.)
    I admit, I’m one of those who doesn’t like this particular Mormon message. I also have to admit I came to your blog kind of hoping you’d agree that it was troubling and put it into words. (I’m not a writer and struggle to come up with language to describe why I disliked this movie.)
    I completely understand what they were trying to get across though. It’s just that my honest reaction to watching it was to cry, and not a happy cry mind you. I have seen people mentioning that quote from Sister Okazaki and I think it would have been perfect for the end!
    I really wish the quote and video matched up better for me. But I appreciate what they were trying to do here. If only they could have shown someone going VTing to the same house for years and feeling like it was a waste of time, and then shown how it DID make a difference. And then show the woman doing all sorts of things you might do in a leadership position such as phone calls, checking up on teachers, thank-yous, etc. They could have shown her talking to her husband feeling frustrated that she goes to all that work but it doesn’t seem to make a difference and things still aren’t running smoothly. Then they could show the other side of the story, the part you don’t ever see or hear about- where those people she worked with were experiencing something positive because of what the lady did. That would have made the video perfect in my mind.
    As a Primary president I feel like I give all my time and energy to my calling while my own life and family falls apart, yet Primary still never seems to be running smoothly. I have been dealing with lots of problems and complaints. I would feel 100% better if I knew all my efforts were making a difference to someone. And I’d feel better hearing quotes letting me know it’s OK to just let some of the stuff go and to take care of myself and my family.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 23, 2014, 9:36 am

    Holly, more great input. Thank you so much for adding to the good. You have some great ideas for changes to the message, too.

    I want you to know that I do agree. I saw all the things in the list of “what it’s not preaching,” too! (That’s how I made the list. 🙂 ) I knew those things could be the takeaway.

    During the filming of Monica’s segment, I sat outside the house on the grass and talked to a few people on the crew. I knew Monica was playing a babysitter, but didn’t know anything else about the gig. I asked one of the gentlemen (I want to say a producer, but I’m really not sure) what the MM was about. He told me it was about motherhood and all the good mothers do.

    I cringed. (Hopefully not visibly!) I always worry about this kind of thing. It’s a minefield to navigate. But I know the director is a great storyteller (I don’t know him personally, I’ve just seen some of his work) and so I knew this could serve many people.

    My friend above said:

    With so many conference talks and concern that the church has shown in other places to try to fix that, I was surprised to see such a glorification of martyrdom in this film.

    I understand her point and suspect many will share it. It’s valid and she is well spoken. But my position is a bit different. I think most of the conference talks are window dressing and head patting. And I think most women who play the martyr role are self-serving. (I’m having to write an entire post to explain that, so don’t pounce to soon.)

    Sincerely, I don’t want to be told 500 times how awesome I am. I want women to be given responsibility. I want to have high expectations for women. I want to be called on the carpet when I screw up. I want women to roll of their sleeves, stop whining, stop making excuses, and dig into the gospel (which does not necessarily include more decorations on the lace tablecloth and another refrigerator magnet).

    Yes, I want real equality, both the rewards and the responsibilities. I don’t want to be treated like the fragile “weaker” sex.

    As I said in this post:

    This, I think, is the real problem. It’s the bottom line. It’s the coup de grâce. Sister Beck made us feel guilty; the Gen X equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment.

    How dare she speak about something we might actually have room to improve in? What heresy!

    The message in this film was not wrapped up in a perfect package with a perfectly scripted woman. And I liked that. The woman made (what seemed like) some dumb choices and they came back to bite her. I liked that. The woman lost her temper. I liked that. (But, darn it to heck, I wish she actually swore out loud. 🙂 ) Her entire life wasn’t out of her control, but she let it get out of control. I liked that. Because we all do those things.

    But in spite of all that, she still did a lot of good. Which gives me hope I can, too.
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  • Tiffany W September 23, 2014, 3:14 pm

    As I said earlier, I liked this particular Mormon Message, but I can completely understand why many women didn’t like it. For me it resonated with my own personal challenges and issues. However, this is not the message I would share on FB.

  • chanelle September 23, 2014, 5:54 pm

    I liked this message a lot. I didn’t agree with some of the woman’s choices. But that’s the thing- she made the choice, then felt like she had totally failed, and then comes to realize that she didn’t. That was the powerful takeaway message for me. It was far from a perfect day, but she still did some good.
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  • Heather H September 23, 2014, 5:57 pm

    Thank you so much for this, all my friends posted about how much they loved the video. I felt mad/sad/angry for that mom. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  • JaLayne Grow September 23, 2014, 6:36 pm

    This woman is portrayed as having a day full of service. She is frustrated and angry most of the day but in the end, she needs to realize that she has done a lot of good. However, everything she does is without love. There is no joy in her making dinner, tending the woman’s daughter or helping her son with his assignment. She gives in to her daughter at breakfast, rescues her son and basically meets everyone’s needs but the agenda is her own, not God’s. I have lived like this and it is extremely tiring. There is never time to do all you need to do so you feel guilty (like she felt for missing her cousin’s meeting). Certainly God was no part of her day and what was “expedient” for her to do never came into the picture. It was just a day of no boundaries and acts of service without the love. Is this the kind of life God wants us to live? Is this what service to His children looks like? I think of the scripture where the Lord at the last day tells the person who says “haven’t I done so and so and so and so and all these other good things” and the Lord says “I never knew you”. I have found in my life that when I am doing what God wants me to do, I do not have negative emotion and I may be physically tired but I am not emotionally and spiritually tired (not wanting to pray). When I am doing what God wants me to do, I feel energized and grateful. By their fruits…. The emotion she felt did not seem like the fruits of the Spirit. It is possible that God could even have us say “no” to some things so that those things of most importance are fulfilled. It was all a bunch of tasks – even feeding here children, taking them to school, even her prayers were shallow and without feeling. I thought it was going to be a “before” and “after” story but they never showed the “after” where she found joy and fulfillment in loving and serving others.

  • Mandy Jeppsen September 23, 2014, 8:06 pm

    I watched this video and absolutely loved it. For me, it didn’t come across as a “glorification of martyrdom” at all. Actually quite the opposite. What I got from it was that we DON’T have to do everything and be everything and be amazing at it. If we try to focus on doing just the things that are most important, and specifically doing those things the Lord would have us do, then the rest doesn’t matter so much. After watching it, I felt freed from the burden I often put upon myself to try and do all of the good things. What I do accomplish on good days and bad days is enough. And I feel like that’s the message they were trying to convey.

  • Christina September 23, 2014, 10:34 pm

    The first thing I thought after watching this video was “where is her husband?!” Maybe there isn’t one? I don’t know but I wish that if there is one then a partnership would have been shown. Despite the film I loved President Hinckley’s quote- he was such a wise man.
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  • Stacy September 24, 2014, 12:37 am

    I had heard about this film before it came out and was prepared to hate it. After watching it, it made me want to be a better person. I love how she served her children even when they were undeserving.
    I love how she did the things she was supposed to do even when she wasn’t feeling it. (I have prayed with my eyes open many times).
    I learned that from her mistakes in not saying no sometimes.
    I felt the spirit of what this was trying to convey and I learned from it.

  • Michelle September 24, 2014, 3:40 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alison. I found some of the things mentioned by others hard but I really couldn’t help but be touched by the core message. Thanks for drawing that out so well.

    But beyond that, I worry that on the whole so much stock is put in a VIDEO. And I point a finger at myself, because I can do that sometimes. We can be SO sensitive, to our own detriment. When we expect the Church to magically be able to cover all of our needs in one 10-minute talk or a photo or article or video, we will be disappointed. That’s not God’s plan, and yet sometimes I think our love of the Church (or need to be seen/understood) can leave us expecting that it is supposed to always anticipate every last part of every person’s life in every word or picture or video that is made. Our God is so aware of us, but do we let Him be, or do we expect the organization and filmmakers to be what He should be for us?

    Again, I point a finger at myself, but these are the questions that I’m asking myself that help me put stuff like this into perspective, whether it’s good or bad, hard or resonating. In the end, it’s just a video. If this video doesn’t reach me, God can find something else that will, if I let Him.

  • Meg September 24, 2014, 5:41 am

    I see that; but, I’ve also seen families (non-members) who we’ve (members) made commitments with get shorted because “I need to do this one more thing.”
    Additionally, we’re not talking about a casual date here, that could be rain-checked for a week and I that was the biggest issue I had with it.
    I’ve BEEN that cousin on the flight, anticipating seeing someone in a short window of time and been “replaced”. That hurts. I got the message – it was the end that made me go, no. You find ways to keep your promises, especially to family. (Clearly. Breakfast. Science Project.)

  • Tiffany W September 24, 2014, 6:14 am

    I am not sure I completely agree with you, JaLayne. Sometimes we are doing the right things, even with the right frame of mind, and we don’t necessarily feel the Spirit or feel good about what we are doing. When I change my baby’s diaper, it is an important act of service, but I don’t always love or want to do it. However, my less than perfect attitude doesn’t degrade what I am doing. My baby still needs it and appreciates it. I thought a great message of the video is that sometimes we serve even when we don’t want to. We don’t always get a happy feeling when we help someone else. We don’t always see the results of our efforts. We may lose out on good things that mean a lot to us. And our hearts may ache from that loss. But that does not diminish the good that we did, despite our negative attitudes. All the people in the video who were recipients of the harried mom were blessed. I think that is more true to life than we want to admit. Most often we don’t see how others are blessed by what we do. Conversely, we don’t always see how others are hurt by our actions. I think there is purpose behind that. I think God wants us to keep trying to do good even when we don’t want to, or when wen we are tired and have a crappy attitude, and especially when we can’t see if what we did even meant something or made a difference. It just matters that we did do it. And we have a better attitude and feel better after it, that’s awesome. But if you don’t, I think it is still ok too.

  • Camber September 24, 2014, 7:29 am

    Well-put! We were talking about this video the other day and made the point that a single video can’t make EVERY point about prioritizing, serving in the church, and setting boundaries. This made some great points but it’s unreasonable to expect it to convey every nuance of appropriate service. BTW that babysitter gave a stellar performance, didn’t she?

  • Keri September 24, 2014, 7:55 am

    I have to agree with what Allyson Smith posted: the film and the quote at the end were a very unfortunate mismatch. That quote paired with this film sent a message to women that this is how we ( the church leadership ) expect you to perform and spend your day.

  • Raquelita September 24, 2014, 10:29 am

    Thank you for choosing to focus on the positive aspects of this message. I experienced most of the negative reactions that have mentioned here and was left with basically a sense of guilt that I never would have stacked things against myself like she does.

    My dad is such a good man and through watching him serve in the church my whole life I have developed an understanding of how much our church leaders love us and want to help us, but also how they are not always perfect in how they do that. Regardless, they are doing the best they can and usually at the expense of spending their time doing things they might rather be doing. (And since we are all so different — thank heavens — of course there will be a variety of ways to experience their efforts.) With that in mind, I have reasoned through my own gut reactions to the message and come to similar conclusions to yours. Having you say it too validated my own experience and now I’m feeling much better about the whole thing, thank you very much. 🙂

    I feel like our culture is becoming a very critical one. We like to look for what is wrong with every comment, blog, or article posted and shout it out to the world. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but when all we can see is the negative, we are setting ourselves up for some very bleak times. Thank you for being one of the few I have seen who can see the negative, look past it to the positive, and say that THAT is still the takeaway.

  • Dani Hart September 24, 2014, 10:56 am

    Amen Mandy and Stacy.

  • Sheena September 24, 2014, 10:14 am

    Loved this! Many women need to hear it! Love when people are real and talk about the hard stuff..not just the ideals..but how to apply those ideals in a healthy way to all of the hard stuff! Thank you!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 24, 2014, 10:21 am

    Keri, I’m not sure if “Allyson Smith” is someone else or if you’re referring to me, but my point is actually the opposite of what you wrote. Just to be clear. 🙂
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  • Mandy Court September 24, 2014, 11:21 am

    The one thing I feel like keeps getting missed is the promptings of the spirit. I’ve had these sorts of days where I thought I had it all planned out perfectly, and through the course of the day, my plans change because I have felt prompted by the spirit to say yes to things I was completely prepared to say no to. And then at the end of the day I look at MY to do list and see that I have failed, but how many other things did I do that day that the Spirit prompted me to do? The Lords “to do” list for me had been completed. That is what I took away from this message. That morning the mom prayed that she would get the important things done. At the end of the day as her son prayed I saw her reflecting on all those moments that she felt the spirit prompt her to do things that weren’t on HER list, but she recognized that they were what the LORD had planned for her that day.

  • Amira September 24, 2014, 11:52 am

    I loved it when the video showed all the good the woman had done that day. I love that quote from President Hinckley (and I always love to hear his voice).

    But I didn’t love the video. For me, seeing the cousin wasn’t just something on a checklist, it was a commitment that clearly had been made long in advance, planned for, and, most especially, looked forward to. The woman didn’t get to a lot of things on her list, but seeing her cousin wasn’t even on her list- it was her focus throughout the entire day. Having her miss that visit to bake dinner for someone, and then saying that she had gotten all the important things done that day, really, really bothered me.

    If I’d been in the same situation and had missed something so important, I don’t think that a nice sentiment would fix it. That quote helps when I fell like I can never be enough for my children, or don’t get all the cooking and cleaning and work finished in a day, or flub my visiting teaching, but it wouldn’t help at all on a night like that when I was so disappointed. Sometimes I feel like we focus more on having the right attitude about things rather actually doing something to change things.

  • Deb September 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

    I am one of the group who didn’t like it. And I saw several people post it who gushed about how much they liked it, and I was a bit baffled. It was a reminder to me of how no matter what I accomplish, there is more I could/should be doing, and my needs should/do come last. It was a reminder to me that some people expect me to focus on others, and when I do that, because I feel like I should, I end up miserable. Why? Because I’m not taking care of myself! I mean, how often do I have ONE THING planned for myself that I don’t get to do because of fires I’m putting out all around me? How often do I let myself down? How often do I let myself recharge? Not enough! And this mom didn’t either. I was crying when I watched it, but because I could relate to her disappointment and depression. Take care of yourself first! That is the message I was hoping it would share, and it wasn’t. That is the message I need more of. I don’t think women are bad at helping others and need a push to help more in the form of a woman who doesn’t say no even though it is clear she wants to. I think women in our church are so over-worked and oft under-appreciated and oft don’t make ourselves priorities in our own lives that we suffer and people around us suffer. But maybe I feel that way because of the countless depressed Mormon women I know, some who work from home, some who work out of the home, and some who work within the home.

  • Marc Hutchison September 24, 2014, 12:17 pm

    When I saw this, I was reminded of the old film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. There, George Bailey sacrifices for others again and again throughout his life, and never realizes the good he’s done. Of course, in the Mormon Message, the woman isn’t driven to attempt suicide, like George in the movie, but she is disappointed. Seeing her cousin would have been nice, but there is no indication that this was vital for her or her cousin – it was just an opportunity to meet during a layover at the airport. The others she helped and sacrificed for really DID need her help. This is the Law of Sacrifice at work, and it binds families and communities.

  • Holly September 24, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Alison, I found this post via the Aspiring Mormon Women page, and I’m so grateful! I had a negative reaction to the Mormon Messages video (like it’s a drug? haha…) and have read many other takes on it, and this has been one of the most helpful to me. I love the friend’s Facebook post you shared in the comments too, and I completely agree the video would be so much better with the quote from Cheiko Okazaki. As Neylan McBaine pointed out in the “Women at Church” book, one way to promote gender equality at church is to quote female leaders more (or, um, AT ALL). People like Cheiko Okazaki or old-school leaders like Eliza Snow provide PLENTY of material to incorporate into messages like these. Obviously prophets/apostles are easy because they already have audio/video from general conference, but it wouldn’t be that hard to have an actress read off the lines to play over the video.

    In line with your giving the producers the benefit of the doubt, I think one reason it has struck a cord is because it came so close in its depiction–showing a woman who is trying her best but has a messy life (like scrolling FB on the phone in bed)–but didn’t offer the right take on it in the end. Great as the Pres. Hinckley quote is, it wasn’t the best fit for this message.

    Thanks again for your insights!
    Holly recently posted…LatelyMy Profile

  • Charmin September 24, 2014, 12:21 pm

    My daughter went to EFY with your daughter last summer. She said she was called the “Mormon famous girl.” Better, I heard she was a really nice, genuine person, too. That was good to hear. Much success to her!

  • me September 24, 2014, 3:09 pm

    My wife was infuriated by this video. Where is the husband and why isn’t he helping? Is she a single mom or is he on a business trip? A little bit of back story would have made all the difference for her. Unfortunately whatever the message was supposed to be was completely lost. I saw another similar comment here; I wonder how many other women had a similar reaction?

  • Gabriel September 24, 2014, 4:09 pm

    The part of the video that got me annoyed was the lady cooking a dinner for family with the new baby. When my wife had a baby the RS president phoned up and asked about meals. I replied to her, “Thank you, but I can cook for my family.”

  • kristin September 24, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Thank you – stated perfectly.

    Kristin

  • Marie September 24, 2014, 4:25 pm

    After seeing this video shared a half-dozen times or so last week, I decided to click over. Three minutes in to the video and I turned it off. I found it very discouraging. Later that day (after seeing it share another dozen times) I decided I should finish it, so I did. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it, but I was bothered. I wasn’t bothered by the lack of husband. I actually think that made it more appealing to more women. It appeals to a single mom, a mom whose husband travels for work, a mom who feels like she’s alone in the parent thing. A mom whose husband is gone all day. It left the viewer to fill it in. I liked that.

    I also liked that it showed some real things: mom laying in bed with her phone. Mom trying so hard to get a Pinterest worthy photo and it is really just frustrating.

    What didn’t sit well with me was that it left me with an overall feeling of guilt and discouragement. I’m now left with the “what ifs?” What if this is the opportunity that really could impact someone and so I must say yes–even if it means my own plans get pushed aside. I wish the message would have been how important it is to take care of yourself too. I know I cannot fill my children’s buckets if I do not fill my own first. (It’s the whole oxygen mask thing.)

  • Lolac September 24, 2014, 5:03 pm

    I very much appreciate this post and the comments following. When I watched this video, I felt many of the same feeling that I have when I am myself in one of those situations. I felt frustration and some resentment at not being able to do what I want to do and always having to take care of others first. I know that sounds hopelessly selfish, but as I have gotten older I have learned that if I don’t take some time for myself, I am really no good to anyone else, particularly my family. When the woman came unannounced to ask her to babysit, I heard myself say, “I’m sorry, I am just not able to do that today, try calling Sister_______.” Or when the kid handed her the school project, I heard myself giving him a stern lecture on responsibility. I was this woman for so many years, but now, I look after myself because if I don’t, no one else will. Not one person in that video was concerned for her needs. Not one.
    A couple of years ago, I was listening to General Conference and came away from those two days of inspiration and revelation feeling like an utter failure. I wasn’t doing everything I was supposed to be doing and I was going to be held accountable for it. When I expressed this sentiment on Facebook, I was told that I was listening to the wrong voices. Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to feel guilty because we are not perfect. He wants us to give our hearts to Him and he will take care of the rest. I look at my less-than-ideal family situation and tell myself that I am doing the best I can and just hope that all will work out in the end.
    I recently had a friend email me and ask me how I was doing. I related to her some of the minor trials I was having without mentioning the major ones. I told her I was praying for increased faith to get through it all. She said, “I doesn’t sound like you need more faith. It sounds like you need a respite. You seem tired.” I just cried because she was exactly right. I am just tired.
    I may never know all of the good I’ve done in this life until I sit at the judgement seat and my life is played out before me. In the meantime, I’m just trying to keep my head above water and have faith and trust God. It’s the best I can do.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 24, 2014, 6:06 pm

    LDSLiving.com linked to this post on their Facebook page. The most incoherent comment in the history of the Bloggaverse was posted there. It was so funny, I have to share. Could anyone possibly be more verbose about something they didn’t actually read?

    But I’d appreciate it if you could all start referring to me as either Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy. Thank you for your consideration.

    Bridget Janne wrote:

    Way to be a Debbie downer. This video was an example of love and service (yes it usually comes at a personal cost.)

    It has been my experience that inflexibility is a recipe for missed blessings.
    (Another subtle yet real message in this video, but the author of this piece may have missed that bc she was a little too focused on the actresses pink note pad.)

    Seriously who cares if she’s blond, or drives a van? Not everybody looks at just the surface; some ppl don’t actually care about what other ppl look like, or what they drive; it was the heart of the message (which was Christ like love and service) that was the important focus here (not her hair, waist line, vehicle and note pad color.)

    btw listing your college classes as credentials for your criticism…
    Guess what?
    This isn’t some college class, this is real life for a lot of ppl. So before you come out all negative Nancy and critique that, just know that this was real for a lot women, it is an every day occurance for some of us who maybe aren’t as inflexible as the author says say she is.
    I’m not impressed that she minamalised the heart of this message all so that she could justify dumping on the producers about the actresses hair color. (Among other insignificant things.)

    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Argumentum Ad Hominem – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Sammy September 24, 2014, 8:29 pm

    Oh sweet mercy how we get carried away! I agree with the premise of your post (although I was honestly to number 20 before I realized I misunderstood you on the previous parts.)

    Why do we feel the need to scrutinize to death this video? We don’t watch other films and think “wait, is the director or studio telling me that I should or should not behave like that?” No, we don’t. It’s just a story. An interesting story that they choose to portray. Criticizing minute details is so painfully trivial and useless.

    So again I reiterate with you (and I’m taking it to an even simpler point), there is one story and one message to this video. The story is a glimpse into the life of a single mom we can relate to. And the message is exactly as Pres. Hinckley says – you do more good than you realize. That’s it.

    I would rather read People go on about who should and should not get their teeth whitened than discuss the shoulds and shouldn’ts of this fictional woman’s decisions on one day.

  • Chris September 24, 2014, 9:14 pm

    I loved the video! It was so applicable to those of us who do our best, even if we don’t receive honors or accolades. It sent a beautiful message that we can and do leave our mark on those close to us, more than we may realize.

  • Virginia September 24, 2014, 9:41 pm

    As I started to read this blog post, I thought I wasn’t going to like it much. MY BAD!!!! Why did I make that assumption? I don’t even know. Let’s just blame it on me being human, k? Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have posted any negative comments. That is not how I roll. My mommy taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say to not say anything at all..or something like that. But HOLY TOLEDO!! Fun to read, great points, and just lovely. I did not feel anything yucky(for lack of a better word) as I read.

    Your daughter is such a cutie. But you already know that. Much love, Mormon Momma to you and yours! xoxo <3

    p.s. I liked the Mormon Message. I bawled my eyeballs out. Yeah, sure, I did think, "Well, I wouldn't have done it that way." But I could be wrong. And she could be right. But that's not the point. And I believe the spirit of it tells us just what the point is. Go mommas everywhere!!!

  • Rhonda September 25, 2014, 6:27 am

    For me, the message of the video was in her son’s prayer at the end. She was only thinking of the failures of the day until she heard him pray “thank you I could win the Science fair.” And then the clincher “thank you we could do all the things YOU needed us to do.” That’s the point. Not whether she really did do all the things that her Heavenly Father wanted her to do or in the right way, but that should be our prayer.

    Also, rather than feeling stereotyped by this little message, I felt amazed that they captured so many angles of how I feel.
    *My kids have finished projects at the last second – often not because they forgot, but because they asked me to help several times and I was too busy or too tired. So we finished it at the last second, but they still did awesome projects!
    *After many years as a stay at home mom, I’m now also the working mom who has been uplifted just when I needed it by a friend who reminded me that the service I offer at work is important and that God will help me do it.
    *I’ve needed help (like leaving a child with a friend) at the last second for personal reasons I couldn’t really explain, and felt that deep and humbling gratitude for the person who was able to help me.
    *I’ve been “left waiting at the airport” when I made plans with someone, but there was always something else I could do – often NEEDED to do – with that time anyway.
    *I’m separated and getting a divorce so totally relate to the absent dad
    *Personally I would have ordered the new parents a pizza, but I’m glad they illustrated a few more things that go wrong every day, like the oven not being on, and also showed that her children were learning an important lesson by delivering that meal with her, even when it wasn’t convenient.
    *Even the cheerful babysitter who was willing to be flexible and understanding made a good point.

    I was deeply touched and uplifted by this message, and feel more inspired to “do the things He wants me to do” each day. That is my prayer this morning!

    Thanks for sharing and promoting this conversation!

  • Brook Thomson September 25, 2014, 7:44 am

    Reminded me of Mom’s Night Out. The message I took from both the Mormon Message and Mom’s Night Out was that mothers are important, irreplaceable really. They are the center of the world to their children and husbands. Imperfection is a part of life and so is keenly feeling our own imperfections frequently to the point that we don’t see the good we bring to this earth and those around us. To all you mothers out there, thank you so much for losing yourselves to help out those around you. On the flip side, I hope you have husbands, children, and friends doing the same for you!

  • Shanna Anderson September 25, 2014, 7:50 am

    I think the true message of this movie ( which I loved) was when the son prays and says I’m glad we were able to do the things YOU needed us to do today. I think each time the mom had to change her plans she could have said no, but chose not to because the spirit helped her to know what she was needed for. That doesn’t mean it was easy, but isn’t the most important thing on any of our to do lists to do what our Father in Heaven needs us to do?

  • Cindy September 25, 2014, 8:12 am

    I loved the video-watched it with our sister missionaries. To me, it speaks especially to women. But I have to say, when the mom in the video forgot to turn on the oven, I think I would have gone ahead and taken it over and let them heat it. No problem there, I think.

  • Heidi September 25, 2014, 8:16 am

    You know, I didn’t like that MM and couldn’t put my finger on exactly why–all I knew was that it made me feel sad after I watched it, not uplifted. It resonated with me that we don’t ever see the woman’s husband. Right now, my husband has been deployed for 7 months and will be gone 3 more. I have 3 small children (the youngest turned 8 months yesterday) and no family around who can help me, though I do have a lovely ward family. We moved houses this summer and am still dealing with the difficulties of that. To say this year has been a struggle for me is a massive understatement.

    I have really really struggled lately with feelings of frustration and resentment and longing. I feel stifled. I look around and see so many women doing amazing things with their lives and I am just trying to keep my head above water. I rarely get to do what I want, to do my hobbies or the things that make me feel fulfilled. I know motherhood is “the most important job” yada yada yada but I don’t find it very fulfilling to change diapers and nag about homework and break up fights ALL DAY LONG. I am doing the job of two people in taking care of my family and my household and it is exhausting, and that doesn’t even take into account the demands of my church callings (last Saturday I was in charge of our ward’s Super Saturday) or trying to be a good wife and friend and neighbor and sister and daughter and granddaughter. I am so very weary and so when I do get the small chance to do something for ME it is precious. When the woman in the video missed out on the one thing she had been looking forward to and planning for because instead she had to help everybody else, it made me sad and angry and frustrated because that is basically my life right now. It’s not noble or inspiring. I don’t feel happy to sacrifice myself all the time for everybody else. It’s disappointing and exhausting.

  • Heidi September 25, 2014, 8:39 am

    I think spending a whole lot of time picking something good apart that is doing a lot of good for members and non-members of the church (as I can prove by the likes and comments from my nonmember friends on my Facebook page), and is bringing them closer to the gospel, is a waste of a whole lot of time and energy on your part. There are all kinds of things that are wrong with that video, but why point them out? Why not let people focus on the good of the video and think upon that. The video is to help people. The point of the video being made was not to give you something to spend half a day picking apart. Every single aspect of that video cannot be exactly how anyone would prefer it to be. Your efforts could have been much better spent focusing on something else! Seriously! This whole article felt very uninspired to me. Just because you may be right about some things does not mean this article being posted is overall beneficial. Unless you only posted it for personal gratification in being able to express yourself, and receive feedback on all of your “wise” thoughts about the video. I’m not impressed. Sorry, but I’m not.
    One example… I am a brunette and it bothers me that you have an issue with the women in the video having blond hair. The church is so diverse in all of the people that it uses in it’s videos. It seems to me you are just trying to seem unprejudiced, but you’re doing the exact opposite! I’m guessing if the mother had been black and the babysitter had been Asian you would have been thrilled with the choices, and praised them on your blog! So now the church is not allowed to use blonde women in their videos even if they were the best actors they could get for those parts (& it was inspired) and they use every ethnicity in the world in there videos consistently! I feel like you’re just digging here. I could go on and on but my time is spent better elsewhere.:)

  • Alison Moore Smith September 25, 2014, 9:00 am

    Heidi #2, my oh my oh my.

    Seriously! This whole article felt very uninspired to me.

    Seriously! You didn’t read even a small portion of it.

    I’m just kind of hoping you’re an anti-Mormon poser sent to the site to try to make Mormons look stupid. Come on. Tell me it’s true!

    P.S. My daughter is in the video. She is…wait for it…blonde. And since she was the babysitter, um, no, I was not hoping they’d chose an Asian babysitter. Rather I was hoping for a pasty-white-blonde-mixed-European choice.

    P.P.S. Excuse me whilst I go roll on the grass and flail my arms.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Carl’s Jr.’s Sleaze Tithe – Sponsored by BYU AthleticsMy Profile

  • M September 25, 2014, 10:30 am

    Yikes…just wanted to reassure you, Alison, that not all of us feel like Heidi #2. I think this was a thoughtful piece that gives the producers the benefit of the doubt and even highlights positive aspects of the message, while pointing out negative messages we want to avoid internalizing. And Heidi #1, thank you for your service–I hope someone brings YOU a casserole (or even take-out pizza). 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith September 25, 2014, 11:00 am

    Thanks for those who have left thoughtful comments. I appreciate insightful input whether it’s in agreement with me or not. But when people can’t bother to read and process before getting their knickers in a twist, ain’t nobody got time for that.

    M, that’s exactly what I was going for. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Tangy Tasty Greek Salad DressingMy Profile

  • Lisa September 25, 2014, 2:11 pm

    I agree with comments you posted of your friend who is anonymous. I completely understand and agree with the message of you never know, however I personally felt this video completely missed the mark on trying to portray this. The video begins with the mom laying in bed checking FB while her kids are running around. She seems a little overwhelmed with life. We see her calendar where we know she is excited to see her cousin then we see her text her cousin saying how she really needs a night out. The next scene she is already full of frustration and then the day keeps going on. Her only glimmer of joy so far is she is finally getting her night out, the me time that to me seems quite obvious that she needs based on how she acts the whole day. At the end of the day she misses her cousin, she comes in and sobs and cries. To me her sobs and cries came from a woman who desperately needed to do something for herself. I think she knew what she was doing was good and making a difference, and that’s obviously why she kept saying yes to everything and it appeared to me that this was her life on a regular basis which is why she really wanted a night away from it all. Her sobs to me were of I will never have time for me. My needs are not important. When will it be my turn? I don’t think she was crying because she didn’t finish her to do list or feel like she wasn’t making a difference. I don’t care how many people you are helping, if you never give yourself time you will have a breakdown. There is a huge difference between feeling like you’ll never get everything done and feeling like you’re never going to have a break and time for yourself. I personally felt like the video was saying it’s ok if you never have time for yourself, remember your helping others. This is the first Mormon message that I have ever not liked. I sobbed and I sobbed and anyone who has ever been in that trap of wondering if you will ever get time for yourself may very likely have felt the same way. I would have much rather seen that message portrayed without the I need a night out with my cousin and maybe dialogue at the end of the day over just the frustrations of not getting laundry done or house cleaned.

  • Britta September 25, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Not being one to post or read blogs much, I am sitting here shocked that I actually feel compelled to add my voice to this dialogue. So with that said, I am someone who has always loved the Mormon Messages. I often cry during them because they bring the Spirit and I feel uplifted. I’ve pretty much watched all of them and I am always excited when a new one is released.
    When I saw the tag line for this one on the lds website, something about “checklists,” I was floored because I felt like it was an answer to prayer after recently really struggling with sadness and anxiety over my weakness with “perfectionism” and feeling like I focus WAY to much on getting my checklist done and not enough on just loving my children and putting me and my family first in my life. As a young mother this seems to be one of my biggest challenges- prioritizing between the “good, better, and best” and being able to say “no” when it’s something that is “good” but ultimately will damage or hurt a family relationship or my own sanity.
    I was totally engaged with the video until the ending which left me just feeling so empty as the mother sat on the couch and sobbed. I kept hoping there would be a quote about how ultimately what’s most important is our families and NOT trying to be everything to everyone. Instead I felt like the message was, “even though it’s killing you to do more than you can really sanely handle, keep doing it because you’re helping others.” I’m not expressing my feelings like I hoped to here, so here’s a snippet from a blog that I felt really put into words that feeling.
    “I would have liked this video very much except for one thing: the moral of the story as Gordon B. Hinckley tells it does not match the story the video tells. It’s true that many people—okay, let’s just say ‘women’… feel like failures because they do not accomplish everything they set out to do, or they don’t do as well as they’d like. They are fixated on what they haven’t done and don’t realize the good they have done. But I doubt very much our heroine in this video is crying at the end because she feels like a failure. I would bet… that she’s crying because she had been looking forward to having a night out with her friend and her plans were spoiled because she bit off more than she could chew. She didn’t fail at anything except the one thing she was supposed to do for herself….
    “It’s also true that service and sacrifice are necessary components of a Christian life. I believe I’m on record as saying that it is more blessed to serve when it is inconvenient. And I’m not necessarily opposed to guilt trips, used judiciously. So why does this video rub me the wrong way? Because it doesn’t tell people to get off their lazy keisters and serve somebody; it speaks to people who are already giving more than their fair share and says, ‘Thanks for holding up the world. Keep up the good work!’ Or, more cynically, ‘You never know how much good you do for others, so always put your own needs last.'”
    Posted by Rebecca J bycommonconsent.com
    There’s a little more fire in those comments than I may fully feel, but I do feel the sadness of this idea that you have to say “yes” to everyone, even when doing that means you hurt those closest to you (the woman’s cousin, and even yourself.) I totally agree with President Hinckley that it is helpful to feel like what you CAN do is blessing other’s lives, where it becomes overwhelming is when I start to feel like I’m being encouraged to put everything that is important to me personally at the very back of the line, cause anyone who has served in the church knows, that line never ends. There will always be someone who needs something, so when do you say “I’m sorry, but no I can’t do that right now.” Any thoughts?

    Also I SO appreciated your Facebook friend’s comments and convey to her that it meant a lot to me to hear her thoughts and to have her say that “you can be a faithful Mormon and still not be in love with this film.”

  • Carrie September 25, 2014, 5:26 pm

    Thank you! I was getting so tired of all the backlash.

  • Laura September 25, 2014, 7:32 pm

    I love Alison’s original take-away message; I hadn’t seen it that way before — “Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that all of your effort is not sufficient. We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do. You never know how much good you do.”

    I’ve read elsewhere that people who view this video as a prescription for what we “should” do often don’t like it very much, and that people who view it as a description of what actually happens often do like it a lot.

  • Donna tagliaferri September 25, 2014, 11:16 pm

    I wasn’t going to blog about this movie until a young mom begged me to. Seems she watched the movie and sobbed. Because she feels imperfect, imperfect because she cannot live up to the woman in the movie. She might have gone to the airport to see her cousin, and now she knows that’s wrong. I am weary. Weary of being branded if I disagree with the message.
    This message was not doctrine, I can ignore it, disregard it and tell my daughters to follow the spirit. I have a very hard time believing this movie as been defended as it as been. It isn’t doctrine, but we are treating it as if it is. I remember when sister beck gave that confence talk about women, “what mothers know” it was brilliant…..she was vilified. It got so bad sheri dew gave a talk soon after to defend sister beck.
    Ths message depicts a woman with a big heart. Making choices for herself….but sisters are viewing her choices as gospel. They are not….we all follow the spirit as it pertains to us. I have had days similar to this, but not going to the airport is a metaphor for never doing for yourself. Defend this anyway you want to, but honestly, it does a disservice. I do not think the Savior would have done this or expects us to do this,
    I am not a rebel, I taught seminary for 8 years, relief society president for 4 and nw assistant coordinator in the temple….why do we have to defend a movie just because it is a movie made By the church?

  • Alison Moore Smith September 26, 2014, 8:13 am

    …why do we have to defend a movie just because it is a movie made By the church?

    Donna, perhaps you should read just a bit more on the site. Like, say, the post just before and the post just after this one.

    First, you can see pretty quickly that I don’t defend anything just because it’s connected to the church. Sometimes I fight adamantly against those thing. (As I said, read.)

    Second, I’m not defending the “movie just because it’s made by the church.” I’m defending it because I think those who are upset are missing an enormously positive takeaway that is being missed by some who chose, as you said, to take doctrinal points where there are none.

    Third, I wish you’d read the post. I don’t think you did — at least I don’t think you read carefully. It’s pretty obvious I’m not making any doctrinal claims.

    Fourth, I utterly reject the idea that this woman did nothing for herself but, as I said in the comments, that’s a post for another day on false martyrdom.

    Fifth, I was one of those who defended President Beck. But I’m unsure how that relates to the topic.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Cranberry Veggie Quinoa SaladMy Profile

  • Cindy September 26, 2014, 10:31 am

    Boy, this video really touched some tender places! I understand the message, that what we do, even if it isn’t perfect, pleases God. But I think there are a lot of women out there who just feel overwhelmed by all we should do and get bogged down and this video affected them in a unique way. Men usually don’t feel this guilt, at least, not to this extent. And we have days when we feel like we are the point guards, and no one else is out on the court for our team.

  • Martina September 26, 2014, 2:50 pm

    Seriously who the crap is that second “Heidi”? What the crap was she smoking?

  • Chamber September 26, 2014, 2:52 pm

    I was bothered a lot by the video but really like your perspective because I see it differently now. Thank you!

  • RachelJL September 26, 2014, 7:25 pm

    I love the recent post by Cindy: “But I think there are a lot of women out there who just feel overwhelmed by all we should do and get bogged down and this video affected them in a unique way.” I also agree that you can be a good member of the Church and feel bothered by this video. Hopefully I can accurately describe why the video was helpful to me, and at the same time be supportive of those who were troubled. I hope.

    I’m a single mom whose kids live with their dad and step mom most of the time because of the health problems I’ve had for years, as well as a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety issues, and sometimes deep depression. I’ve been through years of therapy and lots of meds and homeopathic remedies etc. I’ve actually come a long way, but I have farther to go. I’m not currently able to work and I haven’t been able for years.

    When the mother sits down and cries in this video, I felt like I understood. I feel like I’ve been her much of my life, trying to do my best and messing up, but the Lord still loved me: and not only that, but the help that I do for people makes a difference even when I realize that I went way past what I felt I could handle. It’s not at all that He wants me to go faster than I have the strength, but when all my efforts to keep my limits in check inevitably fail every now and then, even that great once in a while (like I hope this would be) to missing something I’d looked forward to. This was NOT the kind of day I should aspire to….meaning crying at the end. But the babysitting and the meal wasn’t for not. I imagine I’d either be up late that night evaluating things, or doing so in the morning. It would be that unpleasant experience where I’d think, “how could this go differently?” *Or* where I could pray and say, “Heavenly Father, I did the best I could yesterday, could you please help me out somehow? I’m not sure what I should have done differently.” Then he’d bring me His lesson, whether it be in the form of, perhaps, several long, good conversations over the phone with the cousin that I missed, followed by an even better chance meeting some point on the future. Or, me realizing that I could call my sister and say, “when “husband” gets home from his trip this Saturday, could we go out to eat? I could use some sister time” and the sister ends up being a good listener too, even though she was a bit self-absorbed with her own problems before.
    Learning to follow promptings and yet not do too much is such an extremely long and complicated process sometimes. It’s sad that we need that lesson so much, and it’s sad that this video message ended up causing some to feel guilt or sadness instead. I will say that I have never had a day like this, or even a period in my life, where it didn’t eventually (whether it was days or years) end up with more blessings than I could count, and lessons learned. We shouldn’t strive for days like this, to be sure, but if they happen…..because they have for me for sure, I’ll know I’m not alone.

    I love the saying that says (paraphrasing)
    If the cross is in the middle of the road, pick it up.
    If it’s on the side of the road, leave it there.

    And I’ll add: learn how to find help with that cross when necessary.
    RachelJL recently posted…Envy and Jealousy Among SinglesMy Profile

  • Lisa September 27, 2014, 2:18 pm

    So what I find really interesting is that it seems those who really did not like this video pretty much view her crying because she did not get her me time by going to see her cousin while those who liked the movie think she’s crying because she feels like a failure because she didn’t complete her list or feel like she was really making a difference in anyone’s lives. Those who didn’t like the video felt like she knew she was making a difference in others lives already but felt like making a difference in her own life wasn’t as important or should be put last. I personally think it would be interesting to see if there is a correlation between the particular types of woman who either liked it or don’t like it. I will say that I do find it quite interesting that I only had 4 friends on FB share this. Compared to other Mormon messages on mothers that I see shared probably upwards to a 100 times. To me that says it was a failure at clearly establishing it’s intended message which in the past has generally been so easily recognizable to see by all audiences. Next time, they might want to consider a broader focus group before releasing a video that deals with the struggles of a woman’s life.

  • Pardonmoi September 28, 2014, 6:34 am

    Did that (other) Heidi ever come back? Did she ever apologize to you? I’m so dumbstruck by her rude and false narrative that I kind of want to track her down. Who are these people?

  • Mason September 28, 2014, 11:37 am

    I love this post. I had seen so much negative press and I was going along with it. Your perspective really gave me something to think about.

    I still think the video had problems (maybe they needed a woman’s perspective? maybe they needed someone who would give frank feedback rather than just gush over the result?), but you’ve given me a way to appreciate it.

    More to the point, you’ve given my WIFE a way to appreciate it because it really brought her down. Now she sees it differently. (Not that we NEED to be moved by every Mormon Message, but it helped.) Thank you.

  • Marnie September 30, 2014, 9:01 am

    Allison, almost every time I’m bothered by something in the church, I can count on you to pull me out of my hole.

    Like Mason said, we don’t have to love every soundbite the church is connected with, but those soundbites still send strong messages and carry weight. Until I read this post, I was very discouraged at all the glowing shares of this video. I felt terrible about what I THOUGHT was the message, that we have to give until there is nothing more to give and then be consoled by knowing some of that fatal giving did something worthwhile. Kind of like the book, The Giving Tree.

    You have helped me see that the church is NOT giving that message and it wasn’t the message of the video. It was a huge relief to me!

    PS Sorry about those who attack you. It’s apparent they didn’t even bother to read what you wrote. I will never understand why people ever feel the need to “correct” or respond negatively to something they can’t bother to understand first. Hang in there! Your voice is needed!

  • Lorie September 30, 2014, 6:17 pm

    I cried my eyes out when I watched the message. I really don’t know why, I might have wished she had said no to at least one of the requests. I have been in her shoes many times. I have had a huge list and didn’t get anything done because I was pulled by so many other requests that it was/is frustrating. I think in the end though, when we serve others, we are serving Christ. As women we still need to know how much we can put on our plates and hope others can respect those limits as we graciously say “no”.

  • Heidi (not Heidi #2) October 1, 2014, 7:31 pm

    I really appreciated your post. I have seen so many comments, criticizing every choice this sister made throughout the day, and all I could think was, “Do you make the perfect choice every time?” We all give in to our kids when we are so exhausted we don’t have the energy to do battle over eggs or homework. I can relate with her messy, imperfect house. I was so excited to see a Mormon Message where everything wasn’t picture perfect. However, I really didn’t appreciate (is that the right word?) the ending. I know why it didn’t sit well with me. My husband currently works full time and is in his last semester of school. It has been a long 3 years, during the whole of which I have been in a Relief Society Presidency in a very transient, very high needs ward. I know (and I think most women in the church know) what it’s like to be that person who is always giving. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is beauty in sacrifice and in giving of ourselves. But at the end of the video, I wanted to scream at my laptop, “What about her?! Doesn’t she matter?!”
    I know that my reaction is influenced by the fact that that is how I feel most of the time! As moms, all of our days are focused outward, taking care of children, spouses, extended family, neighbors and ward members. How sad is it that I get so excited when I can go grocery shopping by myself? The time I get to spend alone is still doing one of my chores!
    I believe that it was a step in the right direction in portraying LDS life as being imperfect. I believe it was well intentioned. I don’t believe the producers were trying to send the message that this sister (or myself, by extension) don’t matter. As visceral as my initial reaction was, I think I learned something of value. She made choices that caused her to miss her personal time. How many of us do that? We say yes to so many things, that our own needs get pushed aside. Nobody else is going to take care of me. I have to be proactive to make sure that happens. I have to learn how to say no. She still could have done a lot of good that day AND had time for herself. When asked to bring a dinner, she could have done takeout. She could have said, “Tonight doesn’t work for me. Please feel free to call me next time, though.” You know what? They would have found someone else to take dinner to that family. (Or dad could have made dinner, even if it was just a can of soup from the pantry). One different choice would have made all the difference in this scenario. I don’t say this as a criticism. This is a lesson I needed! And isn’t that what Mormon Messages are for? To learn and grow?

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