I decided to watch the LDS Women’s Meeting as part of my preparation for the LDS General Conference this coming weekend. I figured it would help me be a good support to my wife in her role at home and at church.
First off, this meeting is great. It opened with Rosemary Wixom, the General Primary President. She talked about her time in Mexico, working with the Primary. Their class finished, they entered the hallway at the same time as the young women had finished their class. The Young Women have a theme declaration of sorts, and Sister Wixom was just bursting with the desire to say something as the children were there with the young women and adult women, so she just started reciting the Young Women’s Theme in English, and the Mexican youth joined in, in Spanish! This showed me that language doesn’t have to be a boundary for us. In the Bible, we hear about the gift of tongues, and we often think of it as a magical instant in which the person who has the gift can suddenly speak another language! I’ve come to discover that that’s not necessarily the case. More often, the Spirit acts as a translator. While I was a missionary in Chile, my Spanish was not perfect, and in the early months of my stay, less than understandable. Somehow, someway, the good people of chile were able to understand me and I was able to understand them. As much as I would like to think that I just learned spanish really fast, I know that what really happened was that the Spirit of God (a God who happens to be more than fluent in every language known to man) had brought down the barriers between the languages, understanding what I meant to say and expressing it to them in a way they’d understand and vice versa. Sister Wixom had a wonderful experience where “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him,” managed to come across as, “Somos hijas de un Padre Celestial que nos ama y nosotras lo amamos a Él.” I love the way that Sister Wixom teaches implicitly that the Spirit can convey what we really mean, so long as our thoughts and desires aim to be in line with God’s. I think that fathers and mothers need this skill in order to communicate with their children, especially in early years. This Spirit-enhanced communication is sure to also help husbands and wives to understand eachother in spite of different communication styles and patterns.
Following Sister Wixom, there was a video presentation of “I Am a Child of God” sung in a handful of different world languages. It was an excellent reminder that people everywhere are children of the same God who has created us all. It ended with the congregation joining in, and reinforced to me the idea that there are more powerful ways to communicate than just using our words.
Bonnie Oscarson, Young Women’s General President, followed up with a powerful reminder that women (and I include men here) do not need to compare themselves to others. She actually emphasized that not only do we not need to compare ourselves to others, we also need to not compare ourselves to others who are better or worse off than we are. She talks about Mary and Elizabeth, very different in their stages of life and their callings, but who were able to focus on what they had in common instead of what made them different, in order to support eachother in the ways that each needed. She made a point to emphasize women who had crossed culture and age boundaries to create necessary connections across generations. “Oh how we need eachother”, she repeated.
I often think that men forget that we need one another just as much as the women do, just in a different way. I firmly believe that adult men, fathers or not, have an inner need to be a role model for young men and youth. We men, should take a page out of the women’s book and be more willing to communicate and work together, in spite of differences, to help one another. Maybe if men and women both do this, we will all grow tighter as a church, more like a ginormous family.
Following Sister Oscarson, there was a video presentation titled, “Walk in His Light”. This presentation showed different stages of women’s lives in the Church and in the Gospel, starting with a little girl getting baptized, and culminating with a widow placing flowers on the grave of her husband with the family nearby. The opening and closing shots were of a statue of Jesus Christ, with a special focus on His hands.
I like the idea that we’ve learned in conferences past about us being Christ’s hands, and that He does His work through us. The main focus of the video was that through Christ, and by following His example, women can live full lives and partake of His gospel by participating in necessary ordinances and by serving one another. One of the focus points of the video was that daughters and mothers can work together to serve. As I mentioned before, I am sure that men need one another just as women do, and that men need to involve boys in service and teaching opportunities. Those opportunities will create bonds and set examples for the younger boys. If a boy has many good role models of many ages, he will be able to decide for himself what kind of man he wants to become.
Generally speaking, women are social beings, thriving on and striving for communication and relationships. Men are different; we’re very results-oriented thinkers who like to work out the processes of how one thing gets to another place or becomes another thing, etc. This idea of modeling and life-long connections will help men just as much as women, just in different ways. Women can use the relationships to grow and learn, men can use the examples of other men’s successes and failures to learn how to get to that same result.
Linda K. Burton then addressed the congregation. She spoke about how women can use their hearts and hands to hasten the work. She made the point that we can’t do the things we’ve been asked to do, without help. It’s impossible for us the make it all the way through life (and in the big picture, through the afterlife and eternity) without Christ’s help, guidance from the Spirit, and the help and support of those around us. She taught that women who understand their identity as disciples of Jesus Christ are eager to point others towards Christ, regardless of the consequences. Sister Burton taught that being a faithful disciple will strengthen homes and families. She concluded her message with the idea that there are “Help Wanted” signs all over, and women need to see them. There will always be help wanted in the Gospel, and that help is most often needed, as well as wanted.
In short, I love that the Church teaches both men and women the need to reach out and serve those that are in need.
President Eyring closed out the meeting speaking about the path that women follow on their way through life, back to God’s presence. Along that path we all must take part in certain ordinances, and we all need someone to teach us about those ordinances and how to be ready and worthy to receive them. Women are vital in that teaching role.Women are so very good at teaching other women how to follow their path, and more women should be actively involved in/willing to help other women. I think it would be great if men took more time to teach their sons how to be good men and women took more time to teach their daughters how to be good women.
President Eyring points out: “You are more alike as daughters of God than you are different.” I think that all of us in the Church need to focus more on what draws us together than on what separates us. One thing we all have in common is our desire to serve Jesus Christ, and our love for Him.
I think that the General Women’s Meeting was great. I’m glad that even though I am not a woman, and it would be inappropriate for me to be at that meeting for women, I have access to the truths shared with them.