Wednesday, May 11, 2011

UNITY - Women Are That They Might Have Joy

I had the lovely opportunity to teach Relief Society last Sunday.  It was extra special with it being Mother's Day, since so many extras got to join in our discussion (the young men and young women took over their classes for the day).  Here is pretty much the whole long gist of the lesson.  (Personally, I hate long blog posts, so really, don't even feel like you have to read this.  I wanted it here for myself.)

As women, our nature is to love and serve others, and we have so many opportunities for that all around us.  But Satan also knows our nature, and he does all he can to get us to go against our nature – judging, gossiping, distractions, busyness, etc.

BUT - women are that they might have JOY!  When we participate in those kinds of things we aren't feeling joy.  When we are loving and serving each other, and feeling more UNITY with one another, that's when feelings of joy come.

From Henry B. Eyring “Our Hearts Knit as One” (pulled from throughout the talk):
“We see increased conflict between peoples in the world around us. Those divisions and differences could infect us. That is why my message of hope today is that a great day of unity is coming. The Lord Jehovah will return to live with those who have become His people and will find them united, of one heart, unified with Him and with our Heavenly Father.”

“The Lord’s prophets have always called for unity. The need for that gift to be granted to us and the challenge to maintain it will grow greater in the days ahead, in which we will be prepared as a people for our glorious destiny.”

“The miracle of unity is being granted to us as we pray and work for it in the Lord’s way. Our hearts will be knit together in unity. God has promised that blessing to His faithful Saints whatever their differences in background and whatever conflict rages around them.” 

“The reason that we pray and ask for that blessing is the same reason the Father is granting it. We know from experience that joy comes when we are blessed with unity. We yearn, as spirit children of our Heavenly Father, for that joy which we once had with Him in the life before this one. His desire is to grant us that sacred wish for unity out of His love for us.”

(This is key ----->) “He cannot grant it to us as individuals. The joy of unity He wants so much to give us is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others. It is not surprising then that God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. …  We can pray and work for the unity that will bring us joy and multiply our power to serve.”

We talked about why unity is important, and the kinds of acts, even small acts, that create feelings of unity.  (A smile, quick phone call, unexpected treat, crying together, visiting teaching, service, etc. - there were many more.)

Dallin H. Oaks “Desire
“What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.”

(I love this---->) “To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being.  For example, eternal beings forgive all who have wronged them.  They put the welfare of others ahead of themselves.  And they love all of God’s children.  If this seems too difficult—and surely it is not easy for any of us—then we should begin with a desire for such qualities and call upon our loving Heavenly Father for help with our feelings.  The Book of Mormon teaches us that we should “pray unto the Father will all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (and to continue Moroni 7:48…) “that when he shall appear we shall be like him.”

“It is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something.”

Then we discussed the results of having a relationship where trust, love, friendship, and unity is felt.  (You don't feel alone, feel supported, know you have someone you can call on for help, burdens are lighter, etc. - again, the very few I can remember.)

In our church, we have formal assignments to care for one another through visiting teaching and callings.

Julie Beck taught at a recent training that we should “count the caring.”  That visiting teaching isn't about marking off each of the little check boxes (went with a partner, gave a lessons, etc.), but about really caring for one another.  Visiting teaching is a system to love and nurture each women in the gospel.  It is a system of watchcare.

Pres. Henry B. Eyring on Visiting Teaching - “Each time you and your companion prepare to go visiting teaching, you just need to remember what success will be. It will be more than getting in the door. It will be more than giving a message. It will be more than asking how you can help. Success will come perhaps only after many visits. And you may not in this world see the evidence that you have succeeded. But you can feel by the Spirit if you are on the way.”

A few things to think about while trying to create meaningful relationships where we can feel unity:
- Do you know basic details about them?
- Are you helping to bring the spirit into their life?
- What impressions do you get about their well-being?
- Are you pondering ways to strengthen them both before and after you visit?
- How do they strengthen you?
- Do you pray to know and love her?

Spencer W. Kimball “The Role of Righteous WomenEnsign, November 1979
“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different-in happy ways-from the women of the world.”

That quote has been given many many times, but it needs to be shared yet again.  If we are succumbing to Satan's tools against women, we aren't being "distinct and different-in happy ways," we are following the world.  When we do seek for unity,  as new sisters join with us (at least four definitions of "new"), they will see and feel that unity, but rather than feeling left out, they will feel drawn into it.  That rather than keeping them on the outside, we will gather them in.

As RS sisters, we have the amazing opportunity to strengthen one another through welfare and compassionate service.  Think about it!  We go into each other’s homes, provide a meal, help with one another's children, give service, be a friend, show love.

Sister Hinckley, from “Glimpses into the Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley - “Sisters, we are all in this together.  We need each other.  Oh, how we need each other.  Those of us who are old need you who are young.  And hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old.  It is a sociological fact that women need women…  We need to lock arms and help build the kingdom so that it will roll forth and fill the whole earth.” (also quoted here)

 M. Russell Ballard “Finding Joy Through Loving Service
“By treating each other kindly, speaking words of support and encouragement, and being sensitive to each other’s needs, we can create loving unity among ward members.  Where charity exists, there is no place for gossip or unkind words.”

Quoting Spencer W. Kimball Elder Ballard said, “It is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom. … So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving … help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow … from small but deliberate deeds!”
Henry B. Eyring, “Opportunities to Do Good
Quoting Marion G. Romney “You cannot give yourself poor in this work.”  Quoting Melvin J. Ballard, “A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return.”

Russell M. Nelson, “Face the Future with Faith 
Each of us is a child of God “with a sacred purpose and potential.  Each is born with challenges to overcome and faith to be developed.”

We just need to "lock arms" like Sister Hinckley said with "our hearts knit as one" (Elder Eyring) and do everything we can to strengthen and love one another.

Like one sister shared (can't remember just when she did during the lesson), if she ever had to send one of her children to a place where she knew they would struggle, where they would feel pain, where they would really be challenged and tested, she would want to send her children together so they could help each other through it.  And that's exactly what our Heavenly Father did for us - he sent us together.


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