There is one word used by Julie B. Beck, General Relief Society President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed Mormons), in reference to how women of this Church might fulfill their purpose in this worldwide organization: revelation.
In Joel 2:28-29, we are given a prophecy concerning revelation and the women of the latter day:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Personal revelation is attributed to righteous men and women, and must be used with wisdom according to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
But what is revelation? How can we know we’re receiving it if we don’t fully understand what it is?
“Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the [Latter-day Saint] Church as a whole…According to our faithfulness, we can receive revelation to help us with our specific personal needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help us strengthen our testimony” (Gospel Topics, Revelation).
Personal revelation does not come easily. Neal A. Maxwell, late latter day apostle, tells us that revelation “requires serious mental effort on our part….Revelation is not a matter of pushing buttons, but of pushing ourselves, often aided by fasting, scripture study, and personal pondering. Most of all, revelaion requires us to have a sufficient degree of personal righteousness, so that on occasion revelation may come to the righteous, unsolicited” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Revelation,” First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 11, 2003, 5).
How does revelation assist the women of the Mormon Church in making the most of this Relief Society organization? I hope in sharing a rather personal experience I might be able to help you understand.
Several weeks ago I began to feel listless. Certain things hadn’t come together as I’d hoped, and I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I’m the sort of person who will knit scarves while watching television, so suddenly finding myself with so much free time felt beyond daunting.
I began to pray and to fast about finding a purpose and good use for all this extra time. I received two answers, both of which I know were revelation.
First, to take care of my children. This seems like an easy thing to do, and I was giving my little ones a lot of my time already. So why the extra emphasis?
Over the past weeks I’ve come to realize these children, and all the precious spirits who have come to earth at this time, need more attention, more teaching, more preparing . I was doing a good job, but I needed to do better.
The second revelation came to me as I felt strongly inspired to take some leftover dinner to a sister in our ward (local congregation). This particular woman was in dire circumstances, and my husband as bishop could not do as much as he’d wanted to help.
I went to the sister’s house, gave her the food, and we talked. She was feeling very low at the time, and, as many of us have felt at one time or another, frustrated that even when she was trying to get her life back together things still kept going wrong.
In that moment words came to my mind, words I was supposed to tell her, words she needed to know. This had never happened to me before. Among those words were these, “The Lord sent me to you tonight. He loves you so much He sent me to you.”
As I drove away a truth settled over me, one I believe illustrates what one individual can do in fulfilling the grand and beautiful purpose of Relief Society: we are called upon to minister to sisters in need. We are given revelations on how we might best serve, or comfort, or teach those who are lacking.
Just yesterday this was done for me by Sister Averett in my ward. I’d had a really rough day, and couldn’t understand why. She felt strongly inspired to come to me. We talked, and an answer was given. How grateful I am for loving sisters like herself who are daily working for righteous purposes, so that she was ready to give help when I needed it.
For anyone who reads this I leave you my testimony. I know Heavenly Father put this remarkable organization of women in place because He knows the power of a righteous woman. I also know that if we desire to obtain personal revelations, we must be ever striving to deserve such blessings. We need to keep our lives in sync with the Lord’s ways, and our hearts open. Only then can truth be bestowed upon us.