I love Sheri Dew. When I was in college she served in the general presidency of our church’s women’s organization. I will never forget a talk she gave in October 1997 titled “Are you the woman I think you are?” It was in the meeting for all the women in the Church. As she spoke, the Spirit was so strong that I wanted to leave the room and go change the world! She said:
“This is a day when the adversary has launched an all-out attack against womanhood, because he knows—he absolutely knows—that the influence of a righteous woman is enormous and that it spans generations. He would have us be disinterested in marriage and motherhood, confused by the world’s view of men and women, too harried by the pace of life to really live the gospel and to let it penetrate our souls.
At all costs, he wants to keep us at arm’s length from Jesus Christ. For if we don’t come unto Christ, meaning that we never turn our lives over to Him, we will go through our probation here on our own rather than experiencing what the Savior promised when He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
…The Lord needed the strength of the women of this Church as the seeds of the Restoration were planted and nourished. And He needs us today. He needs us to speak up for what is right, even when doing so is unpopular. He needs us to develop the spiritual maturity to hear the voice of the Lord and detect the deceptions of the adversary.
He delights in women who keep their covenants with precision, women who reverence the power of the priesthood, women who are willing to “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10). He needs us to be everything we can be, to “arise and shine forth, that [our] light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5).
Are we the women the Lord needs us to be? Have we received a testimony of Jesus Christ such that our lives can simply never be the same again?
Just a few weeks ago I had occasion to talk briefly with President Hinckley. In response to a question about my calling, I said, “I love getting out with the women of the Church. They are so good.” At that, he immediately corrected me: “No, Sheri. They aren’t good. They are great!”
I take prophets at their word. And our prophet believes in us. He believes in our spiritual strength and our resilience, in our faith as well as our faithfulness. Regardless of your marital status, your age, or the language you speak, you are a beloved spirit daughter of Heavenly Father who is destined to play a critical part in the onward movement of the gospel kingdom.
Eliza R. Snow proclaimed that “it is the duty of each one of us to be a holy woman. … There is no sister so isolated, and her sphere so narrow but what she can do a great deal towards establishing the Kingdom of God upon the earth” (Woman’s Exponent, 15 Sept. 1873, 62; emphasis added).”
Have you heard similar encouragement about the power of womanhood, and what wonderful things we can do when we are on the Lord’s side? I have. But none have stuck with me so powerfully as this talk. Recently I was reflecting on Sister Dew’s words, and wondering just what I do to make a difference.
I was reading Ether chapter 8 and came across the story of Jared. He was the son of the king, and wanted to be king very badly. He wanted it so much that he put his father Omer in prison and took over. He loved power! His brothers were very angry with the way Jared had put their dad in prison, so they freed him and took the kingdom back from Jared. Here’s where it gets good.
7. And now Jared became exceedingly sorrowful because of the loss of the kingdom, for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.
8. Now the daughter of Jared being exceedingly expert, and seeing the sorrows of her father, thought to devise a plan whereby she could redeem the kingdom unto her father.
9. Now the daughter of Jared was exceedingly fair. And it came to pass that she did talk with her father, and said unto him: Whereby hath my father so much sorrow? Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep? Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?
Did you catch that? Jared’s daughter didn’t want her father to be sad. She was familiar with the scriptures, and how they mentioned the evil of secret combinations. So she made a plan.
10. And now, therefore, let my father send for Akish, the son of Kimnor; and behold, I am fair, and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say: I will give her if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king.
The story continues that the daughter of Jared did woo Akish, and Akish wanted her for his wife. So to accomplish the murder of the king he formed a secret society that let him murder for gain. This society caused the downfall of the Jaredite nation. And all because the daughter of Jared put it into his head to look up those secret combinations. So I ask you, do women have influence? Yes! Resoundingly, yes. I have never seen a better example in the scriptures of a woman and her actions causing so much destruction.
As women we each have influence. We are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, and friends. We can make our home a happy and peaceful place, or one of great discomfort. Just as the saying goes “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But we also have influence that reaches out further than we realize. We have the power to change the world. Let us be as Sheri Dew said and let us use our power for good. Let us be a light unto the world as we “arise and shine forth, that [our] light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5).
This is not the time for us to sit back and let others be at the helm. We need to take charge of our lives and make sure that the Spirit of the Lord is welcome in our homes. We need to search the scriptures so that our families will be living closer to the Lord and thus be safer in this time of spiritual peril. Our example is seen and followed by many more than we will ever know. And this is the time when we need to be firmly standing on the Lord’s side.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.