Hello again, friends! I want to share an uplifting talk given by my sister, Emily Shill, 2 weeks ago. It speaks to how important the role of women is in these tumultuous days. Although it specifically references our religious beliefs (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), it is an empowering, widely applicable message that anyone can relate to. Thank you, Em, for allowing me to share!
I love being a woman in the church in the last days. Let me tell you why. Women and men alike are bombarded with messages, often contentious and confusing about who they are, and what they should want out of life. God has promised that for those who are sincere in heart, He will teach us, guide us, and bless us with both knowledge and power from heaven- knowledge to know who we are, what we are capable of, and what he expects of us, and power to accomplish His work and purposes.
In our Come Follow Me lesson this week, we studied a talk by Sister Julie B Beck, former General Relief Society President, entitled, “Upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.” We are His handmaids, we live in “those days” prophesied anciently, and we know, from this scripture in the book of Joel that, as we qualify ourselves, we have unlimited access to His spirit to guide and bless us.
The term handmaid means servant, and you’ll remember, in the book of Luke, Mary, the mother of Christ uses this term when she makes the declaration, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.” Like Mary, we can face overwhelming tasks with the same humility and determination to be His dedicated servants, trusting in His power to guide us in our work.
President Spencer W. Kimball has been quoted as saying,
“Much of the major growth that is coming to the church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the church are seen as distinct and different- in happy ways- from the women of the world….
Thus it will be that female exemplars of the church will be a significant force in both the numerical and spiritual growth of the church in the last days.”
And Sister Eliza R Snow said the following:
We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness, but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities.
The following statement from Sister Beck outlines what a few of those responsibilities are:
“The Lord depends on His daughters to do their part to strengthen the homes of Zion, and build His kingdom on earth.” Breaking it down even further, we are to build faith, strengthen home and family, and provide RELIEF. I love that image, or the daughters of God going about, providing relief to those in need.
Qualifying for the Lord’s work, and becoming practiced and skilled at seeking and receiving His guidance and power in our lives is a pre-requisite to doing His work. It occurred to me while preparing this talk that if we are anxiously engaged in qualifying ourselves for this great work, we don’t have a lot of time or energy left over to worry much about how the world defines us or what the world expects of us.
At baptism, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the promise that we can “always have His spirit to be with us.” But receiving this gift is just the beginning of understanding how to use it.
As we studied D&C 8 this week, I was particularly struck by this scripture in vs 2-3:
Behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
Now behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses, brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.”
Do we realize the magnitude of that statement? In the last days, His spirit will be poured out upon his servants and handmaids. That means, we have unlimited access to that same spirit that Moses used to create miracles for the children of Israel. The same spirit that parted waters, changed hearts, saved lives. Miracles will be done according the Lord’s will and His timing, but we can be the conduit for those miracles, just as Moses was in ancient times.
The Lord reinforces this in vs 8: Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God.
Now let’s go back again to our baptismal covenants and look carefully at the wording. What does it mean that we can “always have His spirit to be with us?” We know we are imperfect. We know we are easily distracted, and make a lot of mistakes that can drive the spirit away. Yet, President Eyring, in a talk given to the young adults reminded them that in the Book of Mormon, we learn about Lehi and Nephi- sons of the prophet Helaman, who qualified through their righteousness to “receive many revelations daily.” President Eyring points out that this story teaches us that, “yes, it is possible to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost sufficiently to have many revelations daily. It will not be easy, he says, but it is possible.”
I learned a powerful lesson recently on how to make that more possible in my life.
It was in a rare quiet moment taking the sacrament in my home just a few months ago, when it dawned on me with such obviousness I was almost embarrassed I hadn’t noticed it before. The promise that I can always have His spirit to be with me is directly linked to my part of the covenant. Each time I keep His commandments with a little more exactness, each time I stand as His witness, I invite His spirit in greater measures. And the call to “always remember Him” in particular stood out to me-
Always remembering Him is no small order, but the greater my commitment to remember, the greater the frequency and intensity of my access to His spirit. Always having His spirit to be with me is a reality to the extent at which I am willing and able to always remember Him. For me, my ability to always remember him depends on committing to purposeful morning and evening prayers. It means carving out quiet time for scripture study and quiet reflection and recording my impressions. It means repenting often. Sometimes, as silly as it may seem, I’ve set a timer throughout my day to make me stop in the middle of the chaos and reflect, repent, and reset. It’s in the times I’ve been consistent at those things that I feel His presence and His power the most.
Always having His spirit to be with me is essential if I am to do His work. I have found that I get this right about 2% of the time. But when I do get it right, I catch glimpses of heaven, and what I am capable of with heaven’s help. Sister Beck says, “When women nurture as Christ Nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and routine tasks.
SO…..Having access to His spirit is what allows me to build faith, strengthen my home and family, and provide relief. Sister Beck promises, “We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the spirit working through us.” Here are just of few of the ways I believe that can happen:
I can provide relief to those around me when I have the spirit to help me: – be His eyes and ears- following small impressions to see those who need to be seen and hear those who need to be heard.
– Help me be his hands- following small impressions to know who needs small acts of service, or remind me of important or difficult days in the lives of others that need acknowledgement or extra support.
– Help me to be His voice- knowing when to speak out for truth, and having the words to do so with love and without contention. Knowing when, how, and with whom to share the gospel. The spirit can also give me the courage and the words, and the availability and the willingness to use my voice when He asks me to. – Help me to lift burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and share love with those that feel alone.
– And finally, the spirit can and MUST help me to feel peace that my part is enough, and give me the wisdom to prioritize. Sister Beck said, “A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart years to do. With Personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.”
I can strengthen my home and family if I have the spirit to help me: Maintain perspective and gratitude for my blessings when I feel impatient or tired. – I need it to detect and avoid dangerous situations that could put my family at risk physically, (that’s funny at our house) emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
– I need it to be able to take quick and clear action in the face of danger, and I definitely need it to help calm my fears and anxieties about my children’s safety. I have had real and clear experiences in my life where I have been able to clearly see the Lord’s hand and feel Him close to me, helping me in my work of protection even in the frightening moments. The spirit gives me strength to strengthen my home.
– I need it to detect the clever deception and decoys of the adversary, and have the words and means to teach my children to do the same.
– I need it to discern the varying, changing, and different needs of each of my five children. What does each of them need from me each day? Which one needs extra love, extra forgiveness, or extra attention? Which one needs to feel more seen and heard? When do I do a better job of teaching, and when do I stop lecturing and do a better job of listening?
– And the most difficult for me, and perhaps the most essential: I need the spirit to know how and when to slow down enough to create a space for opportunities where moments, conversations, questions, and quality time happen. Those moments that I never would otherwise know I had missed.
Receiving revelation takes work, effort, and practice. We will hear the Lord’s voice and see His hand guiding us more clearly with every effort we make. Sister Beck promises that personal revelation will come to us when we 1. Ask for it, 2. Prepare for it, 3. Go forward in faith, 4. TRUSTING that (notice the same words that Joel uses here) it will be POURED out upon us.
Sisters our call to serve is great, and our mission essential. The words of one of our hymns makes the bold statement, “The errand of angels is given to women, and this is a GIFT that as SISTERS we claim. We can, and must rise to our errand- to build faith, strengthen home and family, and provide relief to a troubled world. I know that engaging in His work is the means by which we qualify for His power, access His peace, and experience true joy.
Have a wonderful week, my friends!