I may not be a woman, but I have been around women my whole life. I know enough about you to know that if anyone can bring down a good woman, it will be first and foremost herself. Much of what makes life in your own heads so difficult comes from how you think.
Men are more naturally able to compartmentalize thinking into small segments that don’t have to overlap each other. This allows us to look at parts of a problem separate and apart from all other parts. This reduces the load of what needs to be dealt with on the brain and heart. Women, for better or for worse, see the whole picture. This is a tremendous load to carry at all times.
When my wife developed heart troubles and could no longer sustain the exertions she had been accustomed to her whole life, even basic cleaning in the house became overwhelming to her. I suggested we just pick what was most important and work on that one thing first. That brought tears, as just dealing with that one thing would only demonstrate how deficient the rest of the house was. (And you wonder why sometimes the men in your lives run for the hills when you start crying.) We often have a difficult time understanding why you have to see the whole picture all the time, why you can’t cut it into pieces to make it easier to handle.
The lesson of Eve
As much as the men in your life wonder at your holistic approach to life, and you, in turn, marvel at our shortsightedness, the truth is that we need each other’s point of view to arrive at a really great balance in our lives.
Sometimes my wife gets frustrated that she doesn’t cut up a problem and only deal with part of it, but I can appreciate her ability to see the bigger picture when I look at the blessings we have all received because of our mother Eve.
The first commandment given to Adam and Eve was to multiply and replenish the earth. After that they were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These two commandments represented two futures. The second commandment would leave them in the garden forever, never knowing good from evil, never dying, never growing or progressing, but safe, moderately happy, and eternally young and innocent. It would just be the two of them in the garden, alone on planet earth, forever.
The first commandment would bring death into the world, both physical and spiritual. This choice would bring sorrow, suffering, misery, but in the end it would create gods out of us. This path opened the door for the atonement and resurrection and the way to eternal life in the presence of God. This path created these conditions not just for Adam and Eve, but for all their billions of descendants as well.
As is usual in a marriage, Adam was focused on the last thing he heard (“Don’t eat the fruit!). Eve, with some help with the lies from Satan, saw the bigger picture, the need to progress. She realized that one good commandment was actually better than the other good commandment. She chose the better path and ate the fruit. She had to convince her husband to do the same. She trusted that he would see the wisdom in what she did. How blessed are we that they were so well matched as a couple that he did choose correctly and followed the example and counsel of his wife.
Eve is my hero. She has had a bad rap for much of the mortal time line, but she was really a very wise and brave woman. Even though she was lied to and tricked into making the choice that she made, she was broad-minded enough to see that the choice needed to be made. Adam was still single-mindedly focused on the second commandment and wasn’t budging. I love his bulldog-like tenacity in being obedient, but I truly admire Eve’s ability to see the bigger picture and against all odds make the tough call all by herself.
Throughout most of mortal history women have been grossly undervalued for their abilities and contributions. In brutal ages of war and conquest (most of our history), men have been off fighting and protecting their families and lands against those who would kill or enslave them. This left the women home alone with the raising of the family, caring for the family income, and living by the whims of their husbands and society.
All quotes from here on out come from Russell M. Nelson’s October, 2015 Conference Talk entitled, “A Plea to My Sisters.”
… in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He prophesied: “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 … 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.”
Sisters, as much as the world will tell you that men undervalue you, I am here to proclaim that if anyone undervalues the virtues of womanhood, it is the women more than the men. It saddens me to see women not give themselves the credit they so richly deserve. The reason it is your own fault is because you see all of you at once.
You see yourselves with all the imperfections of mortality on grand display. Your weaknesses seem magnified next to your abilities. This is a false picture that Satan and others will exploit to keep you from your own potential. It isn’t as though men don’t see your weaknesses. We’re not blind. But we value your abilities far above your deficiencies. It is usually you who cannot see this. It is our ability to compartmentalize that allows us to see past what you might not allow yourself to see past.
How to help fulfill the prophecy
President Kimball says you need to be articulate. That means you need to be able to express yourself clearly and rationally. When you participate in church councils you have important opinions that need to be heard. You need to learn to express them in ways that will resonate with your male counterparts. This will allow your wisdom to properly influence for good what happens in your ward, stake, or in the Church.
You need to be righteous. Personal righteousness will increase your ability to receive personal revelation, something you will need in increasing amounts as we draw closer to the second coming. You need to be comfortable conversing with the Spirit. You need to be confident in your ability to get answers to your prayers. You can do this.
Find ways to express your happiness. Of all the people on earth, the Latter-day Saints should be the happiest people. We have the priesthood to bless our lives with the gift of the Holy Ghost, who gives us revelation, brings us the peace of Christ, and testifies truth to us in all its forms. No one else has this gift. We have more scripture than anyone else. We have prophets. We have home and visiting teachers, many of whom really do love the people they visit. How can you demonstrate and focus on the happiness the Lord has made available to you?
President Nelson used this quote from President Packer:
“We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …
“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.”
Sisters, the voices of the world speak only of discontent and rebellion. They do not follow the Spirit of Christ and teach the peaceable things of the kingdom. As you consistently study the word of God, say your personal, couple, and family prayers, and serve others, you will be able to discern between those voices that will lead you into unhappiness, versus those voices that will grant your home a greater level of joy.
This is what the women around you will see. They will recognize the happiness that emanates from your soul and from your home. They will desire it for themselves, and they will come to you for help in acquiring it for themselves. This will require you to learn the doctrines of the gospel well so you can talk about them comfortably with others.
There is no need for the women of the Church to be their own worst enemies. You have so many blessings and opportunities. Use a little bit of the male ability to separate things in their heads. Look at all you have accomplished, and you will find that it is sizable. You just need to put more faith in the Lord. If you learn to rely more heavily on His guidance, he will show you that you truly have power and influence that you never realized you have.
Please stay humble. Recognize the value and contributions of the men in your lives, but don’t compare yourself to anyone. Comparing yourself to anyone will always find you wanting. As you humbly rely on the Spirit to guide you and direct your activities, you will find that your life will radiate that joy that will attract others to the gospel of Christ. You will be truly happy.
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.