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Raven Ngatuvai
The SALT LDS Retreat was held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square on Saturday, March 11, 2017.

When asked about her biggest takeaway from the SALT LDS Retreat held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Saturday, Anna Stringham of St. George said, “The enabling power of the Atonement.”

This enabling power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement was an overarching theme during the all-day retreat as speakers discussed an array of the trials that affect women: abuse, addiction, guilt, stress, divorce, infertility, perfectionism, self-esteem, and others. One by one each presenter explained how these difficulties can be overcome by utilizing the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Elise Curtis, an LDS woman who recently spent a year and a half struggling with her testimony of the church, created The SALT LDS Retreat after she read the issues others were having with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on social media.

“I felt it was my duty to read all of these people’s posts and to find out why people were feeling this way about the church,” Curtis said. “And don’t get me wrong, I feel like understanding and knowing where people are coming from is OK, but … I wasn’t giving God an equal amount of time, let alone more of my time. I wasn’t including him in the equation.”

As she continued to battle doubt, she expressed to her brother that she felt there was a need for an EFY for women. SALT is her attempt to meet that need.

“SALT was created to help you feel the power of Christ’s love and Atonement in our lives. SALT was created to help you know that you are a daughter of God and that he loves you and every unique trait about each one of you,” Curtis said. “As we draw closer to Christ we will become a light to the world and we will become the salt of the earth.”

In the end, Curtis said the retreat was exactly what she had hoped it would be and more.

“I think the most fulfilling thing for me … was to see women connecting,” Curtis said, “connecting with other women and connecting with God. I heard from so many women that a specific talk or something someone said was exactly what they needed to hear. And I heard from so many women that they were walking away with a renewed strength to face the world around them.”

When asked by the Deseret News what she would take away from the retreat, Sally Alley of Bountiful seemed to convey similar thoughts to those described by Curtis.

“One, that I am surrounded by women that are in similar struggles with similar heartaches looking for peace,” Alley said. “And second, there is work required to get the things that I am asking for. There’s accountability on my part to take action in order to have the pleadings of my heart answered.”

The retreat’s keynote speakers were Becki Crosby, a motivational speaker, and Tiffany Webster, whose video for the Mormon Channel’s Hope Works series has been viewed more than 220,000 times.

“The greatest act of courage is to be and own all that you are, without apology, without excuses and without any masks to cover the truth of who you truly are. Be brave enough to be you, despite what everyone else is doing. … If you second-guess yourself, so will everyone else, so be brave enough to be you in the way that you and Heavenly Father know that you were created to be,” Crosby said after comparing gaining confidence to gaining a testimony.

At the conclusion of her remarks, Webster expressed empathy for those who are struggling with certain aspects of church doctrine or culture, explaining that she has also sought for answers to her own questions.

“I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I don’t understand some of the stuff but I know him and I know whatever he asks, there’s a reason,” Webster said. “So sisters, keep pushing. Stand firm, hold tight because there’s a reason, and someday it’ll all make sense and he will make it right. … We need each other. We need each other’s messes because let’s be honest, when someone tells us about their mess, we feel a little bit better about ours.”

Curtis says she and her team plan to host SALT in various locations multiple times throughout the year.

Stringham and Alley expressed gratitude that the retreat's speakers provided specific action items on how to apply the principles taught. When asked how she planned to use the enabling power more in her life, Stringham replied, “By making him more of a priority, because I need the blessings and he’s waiting to bless me.”