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Chapter 4: “If You Are Not a Mother, Then What Are You?”

I have a vegetable garden. It is an untraditional vegetable garden that a green-thumb-gardener would laugh at, but to me, it is a vegetable garden. My “garden” consists of a single tomato plant in a plastic pot on the small deck off of my kitchen. The wonderful thing about my garden is that it is thriving! My tomato plant has actually grown, it is still green, and there are beautiful yellow flowers on it giving me hope that my plant will produce delicious, red fruit.

This plant has taught me a little something about being fruitful, multiplying, and fulfilling the measure of its creation. We know that when planted under ideal conditions, a tomato plant will fulfill the measure of its creation by growing taller and stronger, it will be fruitful by developing tasty tomatoes, and it will multiply by producing additional plants. If conditions are less-than-ideal or untraditional, however, can they still be fruitful, multiply, or even fulfill the measure of their creation?

My little tomato plant is not growing under the most ideal conditions. Being in a pot all by itself, on a deck and away from constant full sun can be considered untraditional. In fact, I did not even grow my plant from a seed since I knew my chances of being successful at growing fruit would be limited if I did not buy the plant already growing. Even under these conditions, however, my plant is growing and flourishing. Because my plant is not dead, but rather, is taller than it was and will eventually accomplish something that it could not do three weeks ago, it is enlarging, magnifying, and improving itself. It is expanding itself beyond what it was in the beginning, and it is prospering. It is fulfilling the very thing I wanted it to accomplish.

We all know that the natural course of human life is that men and women will get together and have children. Biologically, that is how our species is preserved, and spiritually, that is how we accomplish Heavenly Father’s plan of providing bodies for spirits, ultimately leading to immortality and eternal life. Under ideal conditions this process can be successful. Unfortunately, nature is often altered by less-than-ideal circumstances, some of which are beyond our control. Often times, we can determine these circumstances and make alterations that are necessary for success, but sometimes they are impossible to identify. For me, it might be that I am confined to a pot, for another person, it might be that they are not in full sun, for another it might be that they grow in solitude. The miraculous thing is that we can still become something greater than we were in the beginning and accomplish valuable things.

We often equate having children as being successful at being fruitful and multiplying, however, I believe there is a different way we can look at it. Let’s go back to my tomato plant. Based on my garden limitations, I can only have one tomato plant. To me, my tomato plant is successfully fruitful as it grows and produces juicy fruit. I do everything in my power to make it successful by improving the conditions that I can control. I can water it. I can make sure that aphids and tomato worms stay way from it. And, I can make sure it does not get dumped out of the pot. I am overjoyed by the progress that it makes each day as it gets taller, looks healthier, and gets closer to providing me with fruit. I hardly think about the fact that it will probably not produce additional plants for me to water and care for.

How can we expand our perspective to seeing that being fruitful and multiplying as being able to grow and extend ourselves, and produce beautiful and delicious fruit rather than being paralyzed by the thought that we cannot have progeny?…