All weekend, in and out of my mind I have viewed the scene from a favorite painting. In this painting, a child is sweetly being guided - with gentle yet forceful movement - by heavenly hosts toward his new earthly home.
Each time I view this image (rendered in 2009 by Utah artist Brian Kershisnik), I am visually reminded of my almost constant prayer for my daughters -- that they may be guided and guarded by legions of angels as they as they progress through this life.
This is my prayer, as a mother of daughters, because I see that my girls are being raised within a world that embraces messages which are so destructive to long-term happiness. Messages where external measurements are more important than internal goodness. And media messages that portray women who are valued only as objects or for their sexual and sensual appeal. Admittedly, these messages can be greatly frightening to mothers!
Yet, Saturday night I heard messages that do not echo these words of the world. The messages I heard, instead, guide me toward time-tested principles for long-term happiness. One of these messages was spoken by my mother at the General Young Women Meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My mom, Elaine Dalton, spoke of women and mothers as "Guardians of Virtue." She defined virtue as "a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards" which "includes chastity and moral purity.” And she spoke of guardians. A guardian is someone who protects, shields, and defends. She eloquently stated that "as a guardian of virtue, you will protect, shield, and defend moral purity because the power to create mortal life is a sacred and exalted power and must be safe-guarded until you are married."
My mom spoke of being "more fit for the kingdom". And it felt refreshing to me! In an environment so focused on the results of physical fitness (slim, trim bodies)... wouldn't it be nice to instead have our primary focus be on being "fit" for another kind of destination? Even fit for a reunion with the Maker of our souls?
My mom talked of how each young woman and each young man needs to be a guardian of their own virtue. And she echoed lessons about making decisions in advance, just as she has taught my brothers and I for years. In her words, "some decisions only need to be made once." She challenged each of us to write list of things we will always do, and things we will never do.
My favorite quote of the night was:
"For the mothers listening tonight, you are your daughters’ most important example of modesty and virtue—thank you. Never hesitate to teach them that they are royal daughters of God and that their value is not based on their sensual appeal. And let them see your belief modeled correctly and consistently in your own personal attitude and appearance. You are also guardians of virtue."
I loved being in attendance at this meeting with my 10-year old daughter Ella (yes, special permission was granted for her to attend!). I am always amazed when I watch my mom "in action" and see how she is magnified to fulfill her calling. Her message about being "Guardians of Virtue" was profound and touching.
You can view my mom's message in the video below, or the entire General Young Women Meeting at this link.
It is my hope that as mothers, our gentle yet forceful movements can prod our children in paths of virtue that will allow them to be guided and guarded by hosts of angels.