Melanie Stroud


This morning, as I walked out of the temple, I saw this nativity with new eyes.  

I think of Mary so often.  I think of the responsibility that must’ve weighed so heavy on her shoulders.  How in the world was she supposed to raise the son of God? I can’t imagine how inadequate she probably felt.  

When I saw this statue today, I saw how tenderly Joseph had his arms around her.  I saw Joseph a little differently.  He was sent to be a blessing and support for Mary and her hard, hard role.  Yes, he would help raise Jesus and devote his life to Him. But that tender arm wrapped around Mary reminded me that Joseph would never be Christ’s paternal dad but would always be Mary’s husband.

I’m so grateful to my Father in Heaven for leading Shane into my life.  He is those arms around me.  He is that support.  He will never be my kids’ paternal father, but he’ll always be there, loving and supporting me.  What a gift. I am beyond grateful for his tenderness, righteousness, and desire to do what is right.  He is a great example to me, and I’m learning to be a softer person because of him.  

At this time of year it is easy to get caught up in minutia, in keeping score of who does what and who’s doing the most.  It’s easy to take our spouses for granted and forget what a blessing they are to us. Don’t forget.  Remember the reasons you married that guy.  And if a guy is reading this (haha) remember to be that arm around her.  She needs it.  She needs all the support and love she can get.  It’s rough being a mom.  It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. 

For all the single moms out there, it’s a crazy hard job you have.  You’re shouldering the burden of raising kids, providing for your family, and all that entails.  It’s a hard place to be.  Before I re-married, when my kids were back at Dad’s, that silence was deafening.   At other times, I felt the very tangible absence of their dad and the daunting task of moving forward on my own.  

But I never felt alone.  This was because I turned to my Savior again and again.  I sought his love through prayer and turning to the Book of Mormon and the scriptures.  I went to the temple often and felt all the love and promises the Lord pours on our families when we sacrifice to be there.  

Instead of being bitter that I didn’t have an adult priesthood holder in my home, I asked worthy men in my ward and family when blessings were needed or when spiritual guidance was necessary.  

I found that it really did matter what I watched on TV, read in books or other media and how I thought and spoke about my ex-husband and others.  I prayed for eyes to see my part in things and prayed to improve.  I prayed for the ability to forgive and see the good where it could be found.  Because without the spirit of the Lord permeating my life, I was a crumpled person prone to self-pity and anger.  But when I sought the spirit and really tried to live worthy of it, everything was better.  There was so much peace.   You single women, I want you to look at this statue and imagine the Savior there, with his arm around you, cheering you on and helping you carry your heavy burden. I know He can be there anytime we sincerely want Him to be. He’s always there waiting to offer his peace. We just have to reach for it.

Last, this statue also reminds me of my mom.  We lost our dad almost thirty years ago.  She has been an unwavering example to me of holding your head up and moving forward with faith in Christ.  I see my dad’s arm around her even though we can’t physically see him anymore. I know he’s near to her and to all of us.  The power of being a family forever because of sacred temple ordinances is real and powerful. I’m grateful I know the ones I love who have passed on are near and not gone forever.

I’m so glad I took the time to head to the temple this morning. I wasn’t going to go. There was just too much to do. But what a sweet perspective I was given as I left the temple today to head back out into this busy season.

Merry Christmas, people. I love you.

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1 thought on “Joseph”

  1. Leslee Whittaker

    Thank you for sharing this insight, it brings me great peace and joy. Merry Christmas to you and your family ❤️ Shine on ❤️

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