Episode 81 is a follow-up from episode 80’s discussion on how a mother’s weakness can bless her children. Listen to hear my personal insights gathered from personal experiences, scriptures and talks about how to view your weaknesses in a positive light.
How to Listen
Watch the video version on YouTube.
In my last episode, I aired an interview with Kristen Walker Smith. Kristen shared how our weaknesses as mothers can actually bless our children.
I loved Kristen’s thoughts on weakness, so much so, that I decided to do some personal study on the topic of weakness.
In this episode, I share a few stories from my own life about seeing weaknesses in a positive light.
You’ll hear what happened when I polled my own kids about what they thought my weaknesses are. My 18-year-old son’s comments totally surprised me!
I talk about some weak spots in parenting when my kids were little and how my husband and I course corrected.
I also share viewing weakness in a positive light from the perspective of being a daughter.
The scriptures are full of examples of people who learned that weakness is a positive thing. I share scriptures that illustrate how God uses weakness for our benefit.
I found a talk and an article that were very enlightening to me. You’ll hear about a talk I read by Neal A. Maxwell (link below) that helped to remind me that having weakness is totally normal.
I also share an Ensign article that sheds light on how weakness is not a sin and actually draws us closer to God (link below).
Through my interview with Kristen and my study of weakness I have learned that I can view weakness in a positive light. Weakness has a purpose and through the Savior’s grace our weaknesses become strengths.
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Intro: Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Mom Podcast. This is episode 81: How to View Your Weaknesses in a Positive Light.
Darla: Hi, this is Darla Trendler and welcome to Spiritually Minded Mom. My goal is to help you gain confidence in your ability to hear and follow God’s voice in motherhood and in life. Listen to hear interviews with all kinds of moms who are learning to navigate motherhood by partnering with our heavenly parents.
Darla:Welcome to the podcast this week. I am so excited that you’re here. This is my first episode that I’m going to be also recording the video of. I’m going to start doing this from here on out. I’ll be sharing the video on YouTube and then you’ll be able to find the audio anywhere that you listen to podcasts. So if you want to see what I look like, hop on over to YouTube and you can watch the video if that’s easier. And I also started last week offering transcripts in the show notes at SpirituallyMindedMom.com, so if you would like to see a transcript of the episodes, they will be there in the show notes for that episode. So check that out.
Darla: So last week I did an interview with Kristen Walker Smith. And she talked about how her weaknesses and she gave her story about having OCD and how that has affected her in motherhood. And the lesson that she learned from those experiences have been that her weaknesses have actually been a huge blessing to her children. And I really loved the thoughts that she shared. And so I have talked about that on my social media and in my email newsletter that I send out every Friday and just been thinking a lot about weaknesses and how we usually paint weaknesses in such a negative light. And how can we switch that around and be more like Kristin, think of it in a positive way because I’ve often said that you’re never going to have more of your weaknesses thrown in your face than when you are a mother.
Darla: Like all of your weaknesses come out like big time. And so what if those weaknesses are really a blessing to your kids? So that’s what I’m going to dive in and talk about today. This is a solo episode. I don’t have an interview for you, but since I interviewed Kristen, I have just been pondering and thinking about this and I’ve been diving into the scriptures and looking up conference talks and articles that are helping me to kind of gain some new insights. And so that’s what I’m going to be sharing in this episode today about that.
Darla: All right, so I want to start off by sharing a little bit of my own story. So as part of this in depth study, I’ve been doing on weaknesses and learning more about what Kristen shared, I decided to poll my children and I went to my kids and I asked them about my weaknesses and if they, what they recognize as weaknesses in me and if they thought that any of those things had been a blessing them.
Darla: So I asked my 18 year old son and he had some really great insights for me. So he told me that he has noticed that I always beat myself up when I can’t cook dinner at night and I apologize profusely and tell my kids I’m really sorry I can’t cook dinner tonight. And the reason is because in the last couple of years I have been working and I am still working. I work from home. So I have a very flexible job that is great for motherhood. But I also have clients that have deadlines and I’m working in different time zones and there are have been a lot of times where at night I, or in the afternoon, my kids come home and they’re starting homework and I have to keep working and I’m still working when dinner time rolls around and I’m not able to stop and cook dinner. And my husband also has a job where he’s not home every night by dinner time. In fact, it’s pretty rare that he is. And so I find myself all the time saying to my kids, okay, it’s spend for yourself night. Like everybody, you know, grab a frozen pizza, you have a bowl of cereal, whatever you can find, have some leftovers. Um, whatever you can find, have dinner. And I, I apologize and I feel so, so guilty for that. Now adding on top of that, another weakness that I have is cooking. Like I am a terrible cook, so I don’t know why I get worked up about this, about not putting a home cooked meal on the table every night because I really can’t cook. That’s a huge weakness for sure. But my son’s comments to me were really insightful. So he said, “Mom, you always beat yourself up about this.” And he shared with me some of the things that he sees that are positive about it.
Darla: He said, you know, we’re learning independence and we’re learning how to take care of ourselves and that’s good because this kid’s 18, he’s going to be at college in a few months. And so he is going to have to learn how to cook dinner for himself. I’m not going to be there. So that’s really insightful. And ironically, independence is something that I really value as a mother and I really want my kids to be independent. And ironically, my weakness is actually teaching them that. And then the other insight that my son shared with me was that he felt like watching me work and meet deadlines and meet my obligations to clients and things like that has taught him how to work hard. And he said that he really values seeing that in me and he sees it in his dad as well and that it’s teaching him how to work hard.
Darla: So there you go. From an 18 year old, my weaknesses in motherhood are blessing my children. If you’re watching on YouTube, I have notes. So I’m going to refer to my notes, but I was really kind of blown away by, by all of that. And then my thoughts on weakness reminded me of a huge weakness that I had as a parent when I had young kids. So right now my kids are 20, 18, almost 16 and 12, so they’re older. But when my kids were really little and when we kind of had four little kids at home, we were trying to teach them the gospel. I had a lot of thoughts before I had kids about how I wanted that to look in my home. And so my husband and I set out to try to teach these four little kids the gospel and we really looked at it as kind of a checklist.
Darla: Like if you do all these things then your kids are going to get it and they’re going to turn out so you don’t know, have family home. Evening me every week, check. Have family scripture study, read the book of Mormon, check. Weekly church attendance, check. Teaching them about obedience, check. All these things we were doing. And at the time when our kids were really little, my husband and I were also serving in callings in the church that were centered around youth. And so we started teaching our kids really young, the standards that are taught to youth in the church. Like we were having family home meetings out of the For the Strength of Youth manual and teaching those standards to our kids. Some of them before they even went to elementary school. So we really thought we had this all figured out, but then our kids became teenagers.
Darla: We realized that we had a real flaw in this plan. And yes, we were teaching obedience, but our kids were not getting the concept that they needed to be obedient to their heavenly father because they loved him or to the Savior. They were being obedient to us as parents. They were just trying to follow what we wanted them to do and they weren’t striving to have their own relationship with the Savior. That was a huge weakness. And fortunately. We realized it. It was made known to us and, um, through the experiences that we were having with our own kids and we were able to course correct. And it took a lot of humility and it took a lot of, you know what, we weren’t right about this. We didn’t have it all figured out. But through a lot of prayer and even asking our own kids for forgiveness, like our youngest, yes. I mean our oldest sees a big difference in how she was treated when she was, you know, 10, 11, 12. And how our youngest now is and we’ve just had a huge shift and we’ve had to talk to her and say, you know what, we were just figuring things out and we’re still figuring things out. But I think we have been able to course correct and we’ve felt an urgency. Like our kids are leaving home, we’ve already got one gone, we’ve got another one getting ready to leave. And we need, we need to course correct and talk to our kids and help them to develop their own relationship with a Savior and hopefully we’re going to be successful in that. I don’t know. But I think that that weakness actually brought more of an urgency and will bless our kids in the long run and hopefully they’re going to be able to develop their own testimonies of Jesus Christ through that.
Darla: I could also see in the episode that I did with Kristen and from her perspective. That it also held true as a daughter, so nobody has perfect parents and I’m included in that. My parents are not perfect, just as I am not perfect as a parent, but I have been able to look back as I’ve pondered on this over the last week or so, and I’ve been able to see how the things that I perceived as a weakness in my parents have actually made me who I am. So I left when I was 17 and my parents’ philosophy was great. We raised you, here you go, good luck in the world. They offered some help from time to time, but pretty much their philosophy was, you’re on your own now. And I went. I moved to Provo and I saw all these people around me who had parents that were paying for school, that were paying for cars, that were paying for their housing, that were sending them on expensive study abroad programs that I so wanted to be able to do all those things.
Darla: And I couldn’t because I didn’t have my parents financially supporting me. And so I, I kind of grew up thinking, Oh, I wish my parents were more like those other parents. And I viewed that as a, as a real weakness. And I have to interject here to say that four years after I left home, I decided to go on a mission. It was never in my plan, never something that I thought I would do. So I hadn’t really prepared financially for it. And I went to my parents and they did pay for my mission and I’m extremely grateful for that because that, that could be a whole other podcast episode. That was a huge blessing in my life. And they did, they did pay for that and end did support me in that decision to go on a mission. But I went on my mission, I came home, decided that I had gone to community college and decided that I really wanted to get my bachelor’s degree and finish up.
Darla: So I was working full time supporting myself and decided to apply to BYU some miracle. I got in and I was accepted to BYU as a transfer student and I was able to start to complete my degree and I was working full time and I was going to school full time at BYU and it was really hard. I missed out on a lot of things. I wasn’t able to go to the devotionals because I was coming to class or in the morning going to work, coming back late night, you know, after work for night classes, studying and then just kind of doing that all over the next day and it was really hard. I missed out on a lot of those traditional things that, that students at BYU do and, but I’m really happy to say I finished my degree. I graduated from BYU and I did it without any debt.
Darla: And for so many years I had wished that my parents had valued setting me up financially in life. But now I can look back and I really see that that is one of the greatest blessings of my life. It prepared me for extreme financial difficulty that my husband and I experienced many years later. I shared that on a previous podcast episode and it also shaped my own approach to motherhood. So I don’t really take the same view that my parents did, but my husband had his own experiences that he had growing up and about you know what we’re going to do with our kids when they leave home. And we’ve kind of taken both of our approaches and blended them together and came up with an approach that we think will work for our kids. And it’s not the same that my parents did and it’s not even the same that his parents did.
Darla: But I am really grateful for that. That for something that I thought was such a weakness for so long that has blessed my life. I can look back and say it’s one of the things that my parents helped me with, is to know how to take care of myself and how to be independent and how to work hard for something. So it’s been a huge blessing in my life.
Darla: As I’ve been pondering about my weakness, when I opened up my scriptures, the first place that I went was to ether chapter 12 verse 27. Now, if you’re not familiar with this story, you may be, but if you’re not ,In Ether, Moroni is writing and it’s very difficult for him to be writing on these plates. And, and he’s really kind of lamenting like, is this going to be worth it? Like I don’t know if I’m a great writer, I don’t know if I can do this and I have this great weakness in writing and kind of comparing himself and, and I’m sure I’m putting myself in Moroni’s place and I’m thinking, yeah, that would be really hard.
Darla: Like you, these things are so close to your heart and you, you know, they’re true and you just want them to be of worth to someone else. So I’m kind of can see where Moroni’s coming from, and I really love what the Lord told him in that, in that scripture. So I’m going to read that to you. This is Ether chapter 12, verse 27 and the Lord said, “And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me. For if they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Darla: So the Lord has the ability to take our weaknesses and make them into something positive just like he did, just like he told Moroni that applies to us, but we can’t do it on our own. It requires turning to him. Like Kristen talked about in my interview in last week’s episode. In my interview with her, she said this talking about her, her own children, she said, “Christ’s strength was resting on them wherever my weaknesses were.” And I know that we can rely on him. And if we are humble and we have faith in him, that’s when his power comes in and he can make our weakness into a strength. So another scripture that I looked up, was one that Kristen also mentioned in her interview, and it’s found in second Corinthians 12 seven through 10. Paul really wanted one of his week. This is apostle Paul. Okay?
Darla: So he really wanted one of his weaknesses to just go away. And he prayed several times for this. He actually called his weakness, “a thorn in the flesh,” like, this was really troubling to him. He really wanted it gone, but God didn’t take it away. And in these verses, Paul realizes that what he was experiencing was a good thing, like it was needed. It was something that he needed to go through. And he said, this is what Paul said, “For my strength is made perfect in weakness, most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, for distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Darla: So Paul recognized that his weakness, was a trial, but it was for his own good. And with Christ, it would be something that would strengthen him even if it never went away. So I think sometimes we think of, Oh, if our weakness is going to be made into a strength it’s going to go away. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it could be, but in Paul’s case it wasn’t going to go away, but Christ was going to make up the difference. And in my deep dive of learning about seeking weakness, seeing weakness in a positive light, I also found a few talks and articles that I found that were really very helpful. So one of those talks was a really old one by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. It’s actually from general conference in 1976 and I’ll put a link to the full talk in the show notes on spirituallymindedmom.com. In fact, all the talks that I mentioned, I will put links to that. So if you want to read the full talk, which I highly recommend, you can find those in the show notes on spirituallymindedmom.com.
Darla: But Elder Maxwell starts out the talk with which is titled “Notwithstanding my weaknesses” and he says something that I absolutely love. Okay, so you’re ready for this. This is the quote from the beginning of this talk. This is Elder Maxwell. He says, “Now may I speak not to the slackers in the kingdom, but to those who carry their own load and more not to those lulled into false security, but to those buffeted by false insecurity who through laboring devotedly in the kingdom have recurring feelings of falling forever short.”
Darla: Okay, did you catch what he said? I really love this. He comes right and says, I’m not talking to the slackers here. If you’re a slacker in the kingdom, this isn’t for you. I’m not talking to you. He says, I’m talking to those who care, who want to try and who want to do better and who are working so hard, but who often feel so inadequate. I mean, is that something that we ever experienced as mothers? Have you ever felt that way? Like you’re trying so hard and like nothing’s really working out. Like I have felt that and I would like to think that I’m not a slacker when it comes to motherhood and or anything. I’m not a, I don’t want to be a slacker in the kingdom. And I bet that you probably feel the same way. Like you’re really trying to improve and to, and to be better. And, and so I really want to talk about what Elder Maxwell said in this talk. So he goes on to say that if you feel inadequate and you have weaknesses, you’re normal like normal.
Darla: It’s totally normal to not be perfect. Hooray. That’s the best news ever. Love that hope. Then Elder Maxwell shares a lot of examples of prophets from the scriptures who struggled with weaknesses and he says that those feelings of inadequacy are totally common even among prophets. So if the prophets are feeling inadequate and having weaknesses, you know, we are too. We’re in good company. Lots of people have experienced that and he he details and shares some insights from all of those prophets, but this was such a hopeful, hopeful quote for me from that talk. He said, “Brothers and sisters, the scriptures are like a developmental display window through which we see gradual growth along with this vital lesson. It is direction first, then velocity.” End quote. Let me say that again. Direction first then velocity. It is totally okay. Even if you think your progress is slow and we are supposed to be striving for perfection but it is not going to happen in this life and I think that gives me a whole lot of hope.
Darla: In a way that only Elder Maxwell could, he goes on to share more examples from the scriptures and then he gives not one, not three or five but 14 suggestions to deal with feelings of inadequacy, which I think apply to weakness so well so I am not going to highlight all his suggestions again, go and read this talk. I think you’ll find all of these suggestions really helpful. They are all amazing, but a couple of them stood out to me. So I want to share those with you because I think they really will speak to what we’re talking about is how our weaknesses will actually bless and help our children.
Darla: So, because so much of the results of motherhood are dependent on other people’s agency, i.e., our kids who have the the choice, and that’s totally out of our control, I really liked the suggestion that Elder Maxwell gave about this. So this is what Elder Maxwell said.
Darla: “We can allow for the agency of others (including our children) before we assess our adequacy. Often our deliberate best is less effectual because of someone else’s worst.” End quote. I think Elder Maxwell’s caution is needed. I know that I need it for sure in my life. And, you may be feeling that your weaknesses have ruined your child or made things really difficult for them. But I love this reminder that we have, we just need to allow for our children’s agency. Even if you’re a perfect parent, your kids still have the agency and the right to choose. And they still may not choose, even if you did everything perfectly. I mean, isn’t that what our heavenly father has experienced? He’s a perfect parent that has lots of kids that don’t choose what he wants them to choose. So Elder Maxwell also shared that trying our best is what we should focus on.
Darla: And this is what he said about that. “We can know that when we have truly given what we have, it is like paying a full tithe. It is in that respect all that was asked. The widow who casts in her two mites was neither self-conscious nor searching for mortal approval.”
Darla: So, what I learn from Elder Maxwell is that the Lord knows my weaknesses. He knows what I’m capable of. It doesn’t matter how others are judging me, or how they’re judging my weaknesses. He makes up the difference. So go and read that whole talk. I really love Elder Maxwell’s insights that talk.
Darla: So, another article I found really helpful is in learning more about my weakness. And it’s actually one that I remember reading in the Ensign, um, let me see the date. April, 2015. So it’s called, it “Isn’t a Sin to be Weak.”
Darla: And it was written by Wendy Ulrich, who is a psychologist who’s written many books and she has a book titled one of those books, “Weakness is Not Sin: The Liberating Distinction That Awakes Our Strength.” So she’s actually written a whole book on this topic. I think I would love to read that. Um, but the first time I read this article in the Ensign, I loved the way Sister Uhlrich makes the distinction between weakness and sin because I think we need that reminder. Sometimes we get those two things mixed up. So listen to this quote from the beginning of the article, she said, “…it is crucial to understand that while sin inevitably leads us away from God, weakness, ironically, can lead us toward Him.” End quote. I love that distinction. So last week Kristen shared how weakness led her to know Christ better and it led her to the scriptures and it led her to developing a deeper relationship with with Christ.
Darla: And that in turn has led her to teaching her children and to helping them have their own relationship with Christ. And it’s been a great blessing. We talked about Paul earlier. His “thorn in the flesh” led him to Christ and he gloried in that like he was happy for those infirmities. In the article that sister Uhlrich wrote, she does reference Moroni’s experience that I talked about earlier in Ether 12 and she said this, “When Moroni fretted about the weakness of his writing, God did not tell him to repent. Instead, the Lord taught him to be humble and to have faith in Christ. As we are meek and faithful, God offers grace—not forgiveness—as the remedy for weakness. Grace is an enabling power from God to do what we cannot do on our own (see Bible Dictionary, “Grace”)—the appropriate godly remedy by which He can “make weak things become strong.”.
Darla: And she’s getting her definition from grace from the Bible dictionary, which I also think is a great thing to look up, but I love how this quote distinguishes between forgiveness and grace. You don’t need to be forgiven for your weaknesses and they’re not a bad thing for your kids. They’re not a bad thing for you or for your family, but you do “you and I, we both, we all, I need the grace of Jesus Christ. We need his grace that offers to turn our weaknesses into strengths and to see how our weaknesses will bless our children. I think we often hear the words, give yourself some grace.” And I really understand the sentiment behind that phrase, that, um, terminology like, yeah, it’s good. Give yourself a break. Like you’re doing your best the best you can. That’s, that’s awesome. But I also think it’s a little bit inaccurate because you really can’t give yourself grace.
Darla: It doesn’t come from you. It comes from the Savior and only he. I can give you grace and you can be only, you can be humble and have faith and turn to the Savior and then allow his grace to make up the difference. As Sister Uhlrich said in her article. “While Satan is eager to use our weakness to entice us to sin, God can use human weakness to teach, strengthen, and bless us.”
Darla: It is a positive thing. Your weaknesses have a purpose for you and for your children and the words that Paul heard from the Savior also apply to me and to you. The Savior told him, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” And I know that that’s true. His grace is sufficient for us and our weaknesses will help us.
Darla: Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts with you today. I love doing this podcast. I pray every day that it will be something that will be helpful for you and I really, I feel like you can pray as well and the spirit can teach you what you need to know and how you can approach your weaknesses and how they can bless you, your children, your family, everyone around you because they are a way for us to come closer to our heavenly father. I’m so grateful to be able to do this podcast every week and like I said before, a million times I’ve said it, it blesses my life so much and it’s because of the interaction that I have with so many of you. So thank you so much for being here and I really look forward to being here next week and to share another interview with you and to remind you that that God is your partner in motherhood.
Outro: I hope you enjoyed the podcast and if you did share it with a friend. I would love it if you would leave a review and rate it on Apple podcasts. This actually helps more moms to find the podcast and to gain confidence in their ability to hear and follow God’s voice in motherhood. For show notes, resources, and information about courses to help you be more spiritually minded, head over to spirituallymindedmom.com. For more motherhood inspiration. Follow along on Instagram @spirituallymindedmom. Have an amazing day and remember, you are a beloved daughter of heavenly parents who want you to succeed and who want to be your partner in motherhood.