Lucy Mack Smith, or the lovingly nicknamed, Mother Smith was a key figure in the restoration. Her influence impacted so many: the early saints, those who were against the church, her family, especially Joseph, and the church members of today. She portrays an amazing example of faith in all aspects of the gospel, but very notably in the Book of Mormon. Her life and the trials she went through were guided by her testimony and hope in God.
She was born to Solomon and Lydia Gates Mack on July 8, 1775 in Gilsum, New Hampshire. Lucy and her family had many ties to spirituality. Lydia had been raised in the home of a Congregational deacon and worked hard to be a “moral” mother. She was an excellent teacher and raised her children to be pious and devoted to God. Solomon participated in the American Revolutionary War as well as the French and Indian War. He respected and praised Lydia’s efforts to raise the children in Godliness, but he himself was not attached to a particular religious sect. He believed that her motherly instruction was sufficient for their children. Then, in 1810, he became very ill and decided to call upon God for help. He went through a spectacular spiritual experience and became fully converted to Christianity.
Lucy lived in a time of political, social, and religious revolution. The newly freed America was taking full advantage of their liberty. Religious freedom manifested itself in the creation of many churches. The power of these churches was much more limited than it had been elsewhere. This led to lots of excitement and an importance being placed on things such as salvation and revelation. Lucy’s siblings were involved in this heavily. Her two older sisters had visions and her older brother became a “seeker” and began a religious group. Having these influences around her made an impact on her attitude towards spirituality.
She married Joseph Smith Sr. in January of 1796. They lived in Vermont and New Hampshire and did farm work. A few years into their marriage, Lucy became very sick with tuberculosis and was told that there was no more that could be done. She prayed to the Lord all night, pleading with Him to preserve her so that she could raise her children. She promised that if He would do so, she would serve Him faithfully and obey His will. She showed an example of truly giving your life to God and sticking to your word. This experience would prove to guide her to impact the restoration in a powerful way through commitment and dedication.
Because of this experience, her upbringing, and the attitude of the day, she worked hard to raise her children righteously. She used the example of her faithful mother to teach her children as much as she could. The problem was, with all of this attention and diversity in religion where they lived, it was hard to choose a correct church.She was baptized by a minister, but still explored other churches. She longed for truth, but was confused by the discrepancies she identified. Despite this, she remained diligent in teaching her family from the Bible and good morals. She and a few of her children ended up joining the Western Presbytarian Church after they were forced to move to Palmyra, New York due to financial struggles.
Lucy Mack Smith was very supportive and encouraging to Joseph Smith. He respected her and she trusted in his faith. Because the Lord had prepared her from a young age, she was ready and willing to join the church as soon as it was organized. Her example of trust in the Lord and His promises proved vital to the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
One of her key roles in the restoration was serving as a witness for the Book of Mormon. While she was not one of the official witnesses, modern day revelation reminds us that everyone is invited to witness the great and glorious works of the gospel. Lucy Mack Smith had a front row seat to the occurrences of the translation of the record. The plates were brought to the Smith family home. She also had the opportunity to handle the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate under a cloth.
Physically holding these objects is amazing, but what is possibly even more impactful is how the Book of Mormon influenced her life. She often used the Book of Mormon as a source of comfort and as a guide. She experienced the grief of death many times in her life. She lost children in infancy, from disease, and martyrdom. Her husband also died from illness and exposure. She wrote a song entitled “Moroni’s Lamentation” that told the story of the Nephite Battle as told by Moroni. This brought comfort to the saints after the Haun’s Mill massacre, when many of them were feeling how she felt. She relied on the words of the Lord to strengthen her through her trials.
Once, she bravely led some immigrants on a boat from New York to Ohio. She compared their journey to that of Lehi and his family. Because they had also been commanded by the Lord to leave their homes and lands, they were inspired by the diligence and longsuffering of these amazing ancient people. Even though the trip was hard and there would surely be many more hard times to come, she found support in learning about those who felt the same call as herself and her family. We can all find worthy examples in the Book of Mormon to apply to our own lives.
While on that same trip, the boat they were on experienced complications and became stuck. As they stopped and waited to continue, a man from shore called out to Lucy and asked if the Book of Mormon was actually true. She replied, “The book was brought forth by the power of God and translated by the same power, and if I could make my voice sound as loud as the trumpet of Michael, the archangel, I would declare the truth from land to land and from sea to sea and echo it from isle to isle, until everyone in the whole family of man was left without excuse—for all should hear the truth of the gospel of the Son of God.” (Smith).
This was not just something she merely went along with or supported because of her son. She was not ashamed or embarrassed by any of the events that occured in the restoration. She embraced the truthfulness of the gospel with an open heart and admonished everyone around her to do the same. She saw the light and glory that these teachings brought into her life and she was eager to spread that joy to the rest of the world. This attitude beautifully lines up with the principles found in Jacob 1:19, stating, “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day”. She spread the gospel just like she would want it to be spread to her.
Another doctrine found in the Book of Mormon that obviously impacted the life of Lucy Mack Smith was the importance of Christlike love and service. She listened to the words of Alma in Mosiah 18:27-29, “And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given. And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul. And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants”. Even though she had little, she showed compassion to those around her. She participated in the Nauvoo Relief Society, raised funds for a school, and looked after those around her. This led her to be loved and adored by all of the saints.
It is impossible to believe that the Book of Mormon is true without having a testimony of Joseph Smith. It might have been easier for her to not go along with Joseph or discourage him from speaking about his revelations. But, she gave him a chance and trusted in her son. She had taught him good values and as much about God as she possibly could. Listening to him with intent led to her unwavering conversion. She never stopped defending her son. Many questioned him to her face, but she always responded with love and understanding while never letting go of faith. She prayed for him and cared for him and his family. She was an excellent example in the prophet’s life and he loved her for it. Many times, he talked about how wonderful of a mother she was and how grateful he was for her love and support.
Lucy Mack Smith shows a unique witness of the Book of Mormon through word and deed. Her account of the extraordinary happenings both big and small that show the greatness of the restoration are poignant. The way she lived her life proved that she really believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and its teachings.