Some women feel confused or guilty if their life pattern is different from others, but it is important not to be defeated by the package life hands a person, said Norma B. Ashton.
As the keynote speaker at the BYU Women's Conference, Mrs. Ashton, the wife of Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve, opened the two-day meeting Thursday, saying that women shouldn't focus on their marital status but should learn as women what they have in common the ability to nourish and strengthen others.Mrs. Ashton discussed the conference theme, "Nourishing One Another in the Faith," saying that, "As we nourish ourselves and those around us in faith, all will come back to us."
She said women face many challenges. Some are single, widows, single mothers or mothers with handicapped or rebellious children. But no matter what the tribulation is, "we all have the opportunity to meet challenges and shape the future."
"Don't be defeated twice by the circumstances and then by yourself," Mrs. Ashton said. "Self-condemnation has a self-paralyzing potion in it."
In referring to the imaginary perfect woman, Patty Perfect, Mrs. Ashton stressed that women can be good without being perfect. "We aren't expected to achieve perfection. Only to continue to progress," she said.
"I am concerned over the damage guilt feelings can bring our life. Put guilt feelings away when you choose between two right choices. Don't feel guilty if you can't go to two meetings. Leave the guilt feeling for Satan to use on someone else."
When a person falls short of the mark in some way, she feels she has blown it, Mrs. Ashton said. "Forgive yourself when you can't do it all and get on with life. Learn from the past, but don't carry it around like a monkey on your back."
Solving problems comes by never giving up, relying on Heavenly Father through prayer and having patience, she said.
"We can handle problems with dignity if we face them with faith and works," she said. Mrs. Ashton encouraged the women to exercise faith and patience and to not ask "why me?" but ask "what does this situation require of me?"
Elder Ashton spoke at the conclusion of the conference this afternoon.
The 24 presentations, panels and discussion held during the conference center on "developing one's own talents and abilities, then sharing them with others through teaching, the arts, missionary work and other forms of services," said Mary Stovall, chair of the Women's Conference committee and director of the BYU Women's Research Institute.