I have to admit, I am complete confused by women I hear or see complaining about the messages church leadership sends to women in the church. I LOVE what I learn in meetings and in conference! Take yesterday at the General Women’s Conference. I came away with a great reminder to remember who I am, a beloved daughter of God, which makes me a princess. The message of “YOU ARE OF GREAT WORTH” was encouraging, empowering, uplifting, and inspiring.
Life can be hard. Perhaps the first lesson we learn as small children in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “I am a child of God.” This message, understood and applied in times of trial will help us navigate through struggles and to lead us to those we can help through their struggles.
“Let’s not be confused about who we are! While it is often easier to be spiritually passive than it is to put forth the spiritual effort to remember and embrace our divine identity, we cannot afford that indulgence in these latter days, ” said Joy D. Jones, Primary general president. I was reminded by her that knowledge can redirect and refocus my efforts, mission and goals in life. This is a principle that has gotten me through some rather difficult times.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency reminded me that as I remember that I am a valuable daughter of God I will receive help overcoming sadness and feeling like a victim in various situations. I know this principle is TRUE! When I feel the most down, when I feel all alone, the thought “you are my daughter and I got you” comes into my mind and I am able to keep going, ever so slowly, but keep going.
“If you find yourself worrying about what other people say about you, may I suggest this antidote: remember who you are. Remember that you are of the royal house of the kingdom of God, daughters of Heavenly Parents who reign throughout the universe… Even when you stumble, even when you turn away from Him, God loves you… If you feel lost, abandoned, or forgotten – fear not. The Good Shepard will find you. He lifts you upon His shoulders. And he will carry you home,” taught President Uchtdorf.
These comments reminded me of working in the theater yesterday afternoon. I was blasting music and feeling frustrated that I wasn’t getting the help I needed for the set I was working on. I felt a little “short-changed” because I was doing what I could to serve and to love and to be obedient but I couldn’t see that my needs were being met while I was serving others. I don’t really play music of a religious tone at school, but just as I was having this thought the song Ninety and Nine by Michael McClean, sung by Katie Thomson rang through the theater.
” You are one of the ninety and nine Have you any idea how brightly you shine? You are safe in this fold, and it’s time you are told That I know where you’ve been so I know where you’ll be Because all of your life you’ve been following me You are more than just one of the sands of the sea Or just one of the ninety and nine You are mine, you are mine, you are mine You are mine I am one of the ninety and nine.”
I was schooled. Good reminder…
It was something I knew, yet it was a growing moment for me. There is no other reason for that song to play just when it did other that God was sending a gentle reminder that He knew me, He knew what I needed, and He knew I needed to remember and to develop patience.
Sister Neil F. Marroitt reminded us in her address that this world was created to help us reach our full potential.
“We are here on earth to learn and grow, and the most important learning and growing will come from our connection to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. From our faithful relationship with them comes knowledge, love, and a greater capacity to serve others,” she said.
This principle has helped me learn through my service opportunities as I serve my family, my ward, and my community. My relationship with God has helped me be less selfish, less focused on my own issues and problems and focus on helping others as we all progress to our destination.
I think my favorite talk was the address delivered by Sharon Eubank. She, too, talked of serving others in order to find ourselves, and about changing our prospective so that we can feel God’s love for us.
She began her talk by sharing a prophetic message shared in September 1979 prepared by President Spencer W. Kimball and shared by his wife, Camilla Eyring Kimball in his behalf. I may not remember reading or hearing his message then, but I know that I was taught it. President Kimball’s talk emphasized the influence of good women of the world prior to the Savior’s second coming, and offered an “electrifying charge” to the women of the Church to develop good, sincere relationships with others would help the growth of the church in the last days. I have felt that charge.
Sharon Eubank pointed out President Kimball called women from all backgrounds “heroines”. Why? Because they would be “more concerned with being righteous than selfish,” and they would show that integrity is more valuable than visibility.
I must admit I was distracted for a second as I thought of the good women of all faiths that uplift and strengthen me and my family through their righteous service. I thought of several dear friends, women who sacrifices to teach kids math and English at the High school I hang out in every day. I thought of the woman I am just getting to know better who volunteered, just like me to start clubs in the high school and to keep families informed of school events, who now works in the school, lifting, guiding and encouraging students to rise. I thought of my daughter’s friend, now in Bible collage, who has taught my daughter much about discipleship. I thought of a couple dear women that I spend time with helping each other heal and discover the joys of “being.” I thought of a couple of dear dance teachers who have lifted, taught and encouraged 2 of my daughters not only in dance, but as they have developed as teachers and women of influence for good in this world. I thought of the amazing young woman who helped spark a returning testimony in my son. I thought of the many amazing young women I have taught in seminary, coached in theatre or voice who all strive to make this world a better place for all. All of these women I thought of prove that “integrity is more valuable than viability.”
Sister Eubank than shared five things President Kimball taught woman can do uplift, build, and improve the world as they become a force for good in an ever confused world:
- Be righteous. This doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes. This means “developing an inner connection with God, repenting of our sins and mistakes, and freely helping others.” “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “this is something I try hard to do every day, successful or not.”
- Be articulate. “This means to clearly express how you feel about something and why… Use your voice and you power to articulate what you know and feel on social media, in quiet conversations with your friends, when chatting with your grandchildren. Tell them why you believe, how you know, what it feels like, if you ever doubted, how you got through it, what Jesus Christ means to you.” Yes! This is why I felt I needed to ramp up my blogging… to become more articulate… to share what I feel and why… to boldly declare what the Savior, Jesus Christ means in my life and what He means to me… even if only a handful of people actually click on my blog posts and read them. I know I shared. People I read know I shared. God knows I shared and that I am not ashamed of my faith or my testimony.
- Be different – Boy do I got that one down! “Innovation and creation are spiritual gifts. When we keep our covenants, it may make us different form others in our culture and society, but it gives us access to inspiration so we can think of different solutions, different approaches, different applications. We aren’t always going to fit in with the world, but being different in positive ways can be a lifeline to others who are struggling.” I thought of the kids I have listened to, coached, taught or loved in seminary and at the high school. I thought of the people I chatted with about spiritual and physical healing. “Hmm… I do come up with different solutions, different approaches and different applications to the issues and problems people face. I guess I am being the “right” kind of different,” I thought.
- Be distinct… well defined. “We have to be distinct about how we follow [the gospel of Jesus Christ]… We need to practice living the gospel before the emergency so that, unafraid, we will be strong enough to help when others are being swept away by the current.” Again, I was reminded that my efforts in discipleship were meeting this prophetic council. Even small acts of obedience are noticed and sets me apart.
- Be happy. “Being happy doesn’t mean to slap a plastic smile on your face no matter what is going on. But it does mean keeping the laws of God and building and lifting others. When we build, when we lift the burdens of others, it blesses our lives in ways our trials cannot take away.” Now, I am not always a happy camper, but I know that I am getting happier and happier every day. Happiness is an energy! It is infectious! “Any small thing you do to light real happiness in others shows that you are already carrying the torch President Kimball lit,” Sister Eubank said. I can do small things.
As I listened I began to feel a warmth and light spread inside me. I began to realize, maybe even for the first time, that I had done what a prophet had instructed me to do. I was doing my best to be a woman of God, influencing the world for good. I don’t need more than that! I don’t need to be a Bishop or a General Authority. I don’t need to speak in world wide meetings. I don’t need a priesthood office to be of great worth. I just need to embrace the power within me, the divine power inherited from divine parents. My worth has never changed. I am a diamond in the rough slowly being cut, shaped and polished by the experiences of this life.
Sister Eubank said, “You cannot put yourself beyond the reach of that love. When you fell His love, when you love Him, you will repent and keep His commandments. When you keep His commandments, He can use us in His work. His work and glory is the exaltation and eternal life of women and men.”
Nope, you can’t. His voice echos in my mind and heart, “You are mine.”