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“Called to Her Calling”: The View from 1903

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 14, 2011

Grace Ingles Frost was a prolific poet (we’ve read some of her poems and stories at Keepa), a trained nurse, and an ardent Church worker. She wrote this article for the Young Woman’s Journal.

“Called to Her Calling”

Grace Ingles Frost

You will probably ask, “What is her calling?” It is the one that was given to woman in the beginning, by her Heavenly Father — the calling of wife and mother.

We are most of us ambitious, and it is right to be so, but we should never allow ambition to ruin our lives. We cannot all be Pattis, Bernhardts or Bonheurs. And even were it possible, we should not neglect the calling of every true woman’s life, that of motherhood. This is the highest calling that a woman can have. There can be none greater, nor can there be a happier one. Remember “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Wise indeed was the peerless Gerster when she relinquished her stage triumphs to sing lullabies to her babies. She heeded the call and says that she would rather hear infant lips lisp “Mamma” than receive all the applause that the world can bestow.

If you will bear with me, I wish to paint two pictures for your inspection.

The first is of a young girl, who ten years ago was the embodiment of happiness. From the time she was a tiny child her heart had been filled with mother-love. She was a devoted little mother to her doll babies, and as she grew older would gladly forsake the pleasures of youth to care for a baby.

When she attained her eighteenth year, she found that she was the possessor of a beautiful voice. And letting her ambition for a career overpower her desire for the higher calling, she ruined her entire life. Trials came. Then she lost her health. This deprived her of the voice she so valued. Today were you to meet her, you would find a woman grown old before her time, an invalid and one who is broken hearted. Her heart still o’erflows with mother love, but her arms are forever empty. Well may she murmur,

“Of all sad word of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these, it might have been.”

My second picture is more cheerful. It is the studio of a girl artist, who, filled with enthusiasm for her work, stands before an easel, contemplating a picture to which she has just given the finishing touch. As she stands thus her lover enters and throwing his arm around her asks her to be his wife. Palette and brush fall to the floor. In a moment she forgets fame, for she sees the higher calling.

Ah, dear girl readers, which one of these pictures will you choose when you, too, are “called to your calling”?



4 Comments »

  1. Thanks — a beautiful article…

    Comment by ji — December 14, 2011 @ 8:27 am

  2. eeeeeewwwwwwwwwww….. as for ‘Ah, dear girl readers, which one of these pictures will you choose when you, too, are “called to your calling”?’ ..that all depends what one’s calling is, methinks!

    Comment by Anne (UK) — December 15, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

  3. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about this rubs me wrong.

    Comment by Marcelaine — December 17, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  4. I think what it might be, Marcelaine, is that the two pictures cheat:

    In the first one, everything horrible that can be imagined results from the girl’s choice, even when those horrible happenings have nothing to do with her choice (trials come to everybody, mother or not; a mother may lose her health as easily as anyone else, perhaps more easily given the perils of childbirth and the other demands of motherhood).

    In the second picture, we see the Princess accepting her Prince Charming at the romantic beginning and are led to expect that she will live happily ever after, as if that is a guarantee that she won’t have trials, won’t lose her health, won’t grow old with the cares of motherhood, won’t become an invalid, won’t have her heart broken by husband or child …

    I think I can agree with ji if by beautiful she recognizes that there are few things more wonderful to contemplate than ideal motherhood (at the right time, with the right husband, in the right way, without too many of the potential disasters of mortality). I most definitely agree with Anne about the answer to the author’s question depending upon the individual woman’s calling — despite my willingness, for instance, I never received the “calling” of motherhood, and if I had to picture my life as the valueless, hopeless shell that this author does, I’d shoot myself now before I quite reached that point.

    So it rubs me wrong, too, although (or maybe because) I can see what the author has in mind.

    A reminder to all that I don’t necessarily endorse the viewpoints expressed in these “The View from …” posts. I’m merely collecting and sharing expressions of women’s roles received by LDS women at different points in our history. Once I have a range of such viewpoints, I have an idea for a study I’d like to make.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 17, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

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