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Mormon women urged to focus on 'why' of gospel

Published: Saturday, Sept. 24 2011 11:33 p.m. MDT

Choir at the General Relief Society women's conference Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

The forget-me-not flower can be a symbol of little things that sweeten the lives of women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during church's General Relief Society Meeting on Sept. 24.

"There is something inspiring and sublime about the little forget-me-not flower," he said.

Speaking to a capacity congregation in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, used the forget-me-not flower — which has five petals — as a metaphor to illustrate five things he would like the women in the church to remember.

"Never forget that you must be patient and compassionate with yourselves, that some sacrifices are better than others, that you need not wait for a golden ticket to be happy. Please never forget that the 'why' of the gospel of Jesus Christ will inspire and uplift you. And never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves and cherishes you."

In addition to President Uchtdorf, Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, and her counselors, Sister Silvia H. Allred and Sister Barbara Thompson, spoke. President Thomas S. Monson and President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, also attended the meeting, which was broadcast to LDS meetinghouses across the globe.

During his remarks, President Uchtdorf asked Latter-day Saint women worldwide to not forget five things:

First, forget not to be patient with yourself. "I want to tell you something and I hope you will take it the right way. God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect," he said. "Let me add: God is fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not."

Second, forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice. "An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth," said President Uchrtdorf.

Third, forget not to be happy now. Recalling the children's story "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," President Uchtdorf said people were looking for a golden ticket in a candy bar. Unfortunately, the candy bar itself became an utter disappointment if it did not contain a gold ticket, he explained.

"So many people today are waiting for their own golden ticket — the ticket that they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed about."

The problem, he added, comes when a person puts their happiness on hold as they wait for some future event — or gold ticket — to appear.

Fourth, forget not the 'why' of the gospel. Sometimes, he said, LDS church members focus on what the Lord wants them to do and how to do it, but forget the why.

"While understanding the 'what' and the 'how' of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the 'why,' " he said. "When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet."

Fifth, forget not that the Lord loves you. President Uchtdorf said as a child, when he looked at little forget-me-nots, he sometimes felt like that flower — small and insignificant. "I wondered if I would be forgotten by my family or by my Heavenly Father."

To the worldwide audience of women, President Uchtdorf added, "You are not forgotten, sisters, wherever you are and whatever the circumstances."

In closing, he promised the women that they are destined for more than they can possibly imagine.

"Continue to increase in faith and personal righteousness. Accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as your way of life. Cherish the gift of activity in this great and true church. Treasure the gift of service in the blessed organization of Relief Society. Continue to strengthen homes and families. Continue to seek out and help others who need your and the Lord's help."

During her remarks, Sister Beck — who also conducted the meeting — called Relief Society a spiritual legacy and a way of life.

"I have titled this message 'What I Hope My Granddaughters Will Understand about Relief Society,' " she said. "I hope what I say in this message will give them and all who hear or read it a clear understanding of what the Lord had in mind for His daughters when He organized the Relief Society."

 Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters will understand that Relief Society today is organized after a pattern of discipleship that existed in the Church in ancient times. "When the Savior organized his church in New Testament times, women were vital participants in his ministry."

As the Lord began restoring His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, He again included women in a pattern of discipleship, she added.

Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters will understand the Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to organize the women of the Church under the priesthood and after the pattern of the priesthood.

"Being organized under the priesthood makes it possible for the presidency to receive direction from the Lord and His prophet for a specific work. And the organization of Relief Society enabled the Lord's storehouse of talent, time and means to be administered in wisdom and order."

Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters will understand that the organization of Relief Society was an essential part of preparing the Saints for the privileges, blessings and gifts found only in the temple. "I hope my granddaughters value the temple as did the sisters of the first Relief Society, who believed that temple blessings were the grand prize and great goal of every Latter-day Saint woman."

She said that she hopes her granddaughters will come to understand the important influence and capacity of the great worldwide sisterhood of Relief Society. "Since 1842 the Church has spread well beyond Nauvoo, and Relief Society is now found in more than 170 countries, where sisters speak more than 80 languages."

Early Relief Society efforts are now applied globally, she said. "As the Church has grown, Relief Society has been able to fulfill its purposes in every ward and branch, in every stake and district, while adapting to an ever-changing world," she said. Every day, she added, Relief Society sisters around the world experience the entire range of mortal challenges and experiences. One of the Lord's purposes in organizing the sisters into a discipleship was to provide relief that would lift them above challenges, she explained.

Sister Beck said her granddaughters should also know that the sisterhood of Relief Society can provide a place of safety, refuge and protection. "As our times become ever more difficult, the faithful sisters of Relief Society will help protect the homes of Zion from the shrill voices of the world and the predatory and provocative influence of the adversary.

 She said she hopes her granddaughters will understand that visiting teaching is an expression of their discipleship and a significant way to honor their covenants. "This element of our discipleship should closely resemble the ministry of our Savior," she said.

Sister Beck concluded by noting that these and other essential teachings about Relief Society are now available for her granddaughters to study in Daughters in My Kingdom: the History and Work of Relief Society.

"It will unify and align a worldwide sisterhood with the purposes of Relief Society and the patterns and privileges of disciples. It is a witness women's essential roles in our Father's plan of happiness, and it provides an immovable standard of what we believe, what we do, and what we will defend."

During her remarks, Sister Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, called charity a divine gift which individuals must seek and pray for.

"Charity is not a single act, or something we give away, but a state of being, a state of the heart, kind feelings that engender loving actions," she said.

It is through providing service and extending charity towards others that individuals are able to overcome their own difficulties, making them seem less challenging, Sister Allred said.

"When we have charity, we are willing to serve and help others when it is inconvenient and with no thought of recognition or reciprocation," she said. "We don't wait to be assigned to help because it becomes our very nature. As we choose to be kind, caring, generous, patient, accepting, forgiving, inclusive and selfless, we discover we are abounding in charity."

Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke of the joy and happiness that comes as individuals cleave unto their covenants.

"Our covenants sustain us whether in good times or in difficult times," she said. "Great are the blessings we receive as we cleave unto our covenants."

It is through making and keeping covenants that individuals will find true happiness and protection.

"Keeping covenants is true joy and happiness," she said. "This is comfort and peace. This is protection from the evils of the world. Keeping our covenants will help us in times of trial. I testify that as we have faith in Christ and cleave unto our covenants, we will receive the joy spoken of in the holy scriptures and promised by our Latter-day prophets."

email: sarah@desnews.com, mholman@desnews.com

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