As I attended the Time Out for Women event in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend, themes of light, service, hope and strength stood out.
On Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, March 1, I was one of several thousand women who gathered to be inspired, uplifted and taught at the Time Out for Women event sponsored by Deseret Book.
A heavy trial was placed on our family just the day before the event, and if I had ever needed comfort, guidance and words of direction, this was the time.
The theme this year for Time Out for Women is “Inevitable Light.” Inevitable suggests something that cannot be avoided or is a certainty. Based in part on a quote by Elder Lawrence C. Corbridge of the Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in which he says “Your light will shine as an inevitable consequence of faithfully choosing to follow the Lord whatever the cost” (see "Valiant in Testimony of Jesus Christ," Ensign, September 2011).
The image came to my mind of an unlit candle being lit by another. When the lit candle first lights the other, there is a brighter flash of light as the flame is shared. It seemed to me that such was the case as my mind was enlightened or lit by each of the presenters. And then it came to me that not only was my candle being lit, but so were the candles of each woman present. Together, as women of faith, our candles collectively created an even brighter light to the world.
Mary Ellen Edmunds, one of the presenters, shared a well-known quote, “better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness.”
Throughout the weekend event, several central messages impressed me as to how I can light a candle and be that inevitable light in a world of growing darkness: to look, to embrace hope and to use our power and strength.
Sister Barbara Thompson, a former counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, shared the importance of being like Mormon by being “quick to observe” (see Mormon 1:2) and paying attention to the little things, especially the needs of others.
Former Broadway singer Sandra Turley shared this message through the music of Broadway, reminding us that in "Les Miserables," Jean Valjean sings in the finale, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” He learned this through helping and serving those less fortunate than himself.
John Hilton III, an author and assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, also shared a message along these lines. He shared lessons from Isaiah, particularly Isaiah 35:3, which is a reminder to “strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.” More importantly, he reminded us that as we serve others, our own troubles shrink in comparison.
And finally author and businesswoman Kris Belcher, who is blind, shared that as we wait upon the Lord for deliverance from trials that we should “wait” upon him in the sense of serving him. She shared the need to look up to our Father in Heaven, to look in at ourselves and evaluate what we can control and to look out and help others.
Another message that prevailed in several of the presentations was hope, and several of the presenters included it in their messages. One dictionary definition of hope is “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.”
Hilton shared that one reason Nephi shared so many of the words of Isaiah was so that we would “liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope” (see 1 Nephi 19:24).
Brooke Stone, of the Mercy River trio, shared the trials her family has experienced with infertility. She shared the need to “hope for other things while waiting for something else.” At times, we need to recognize that there are other blessings we receive while waiting for the one that may seem elusive, she said. Recognizing this hope given from our Father in Heaven makes the pain of waiting for a miracle more bearable, she added.
Retired LDS Institute of Religion instructor and author S. Michael Wilcox shared the experience of when the Savior appeared to Mary at the tomb. Christ called her name and she turned from the empty tomb — from the darkness, despair and sadness to he who represents all that is bright, hopeful and good. The Savior is the brightest light and the brightest hope we can have, he said.
I also came away with the message of the power and strength inherent in myself and all women. Wilcox reminded me that we are each beings of light with gifts and talents to share with others. Hilton taught us to “loose thyself from the bands of captivity” (see Isaiah 52:2). He shared that women have the power to change certain things. By using agency, we can turn complaints we have into what we really want to happen, all by things within our power or control, he said.
Jill Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist, reminded us that as women we matter. The sphere of our influence is greater than we may think. Since women are the ones who use media the most, we should use that power to influence the content of all media and how it is consumed, she said.
As a child, I was afraid of the dark. Not knowing what might be lurking in the shadows made it difficult for me to sleep. My parents placed a night light in my room that chased those fears away.
As an adult, those fears are not of monsters in the dark, but of trials that seem too great to bear, of a world gone astray, and feelings of inadequacy. Now that darkness can be chased by the “inevitable light” by my own candles of faith and testimony. As Isaiah reminds us, “Fear not thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee. Fear not, for I am with thee” (see Isaiah 43:1-2, 5).
There is no need to fear knowing there is an army of righteous women who are holding their lights high.
For information about Time Out for Women, including a list of cities, registration information and presenters, see tofw.com.
Robyn Carr is a graduate of Brigham Young University, a mother of five and grandmother to one. She lives in North Carolina. Her email is email@example.com.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company