Sunday, July 31, 2016

Divine Nature

While studying in Matthew tonight, I was trying to find a quote in some old lessons I taught while I was Relief Society President. I read this lesson on Divine Nature and realized it was something I needed to read for myself.

It struck such a chord with me, I wanted to share it, to remind all the amazing women I know that we are wonderful and amazing, and we need to learn to love ourselves and stop comparing ourselves to each other.

It is kind of long but filled with a great message. It is amazing what the Lord can inspire you to put together. I hope you can stick it out to the end!

Divine Nature

While trying to prepare this lesson I decided it is much easier to write a talk than write a lesson from scratch.  I know what I want to convey to you but how do I put it into words.  How do I ask questions that will engage you?  How do I get the feelings of my heart to be expressed in a way that will resonate with you?  I am hoping that divine intervention and inspiration will attend me today because I haven’t been able to put this together as cohesively and thoroughly as I would have liked.

There are a lot of good quotes that totally convey what I want to cover.  I could just read conference talks to you and have the message given more eloquently and by more knowledgeable people than me.  What is it that I can offer to this lesson, to this group of women?  The only thing I can think of is my understanding and experience with what I want to talk about.

As women, we are hard on ourselves.  We expect ourselves to be perfect, to be everything to everyone, and impose almost impossible standards onto ourselves.  We look at women we see at church (represented by the woman in this statue); knowing what we look like when we wake up in the morning, how messy our house gets, that we are grumpy or lose patience with our kids; and think of ourselves and this unattractive gray rock.

We then compare ourselves to others and we usually come out on the bad end.  Why do we compare ourselves?

·         Life is hard
·         Depression
·         incorrect perspective
·         We don’t have all the facts.

What can happen when we compare ourselves to others?

·         We judge others
·         we feel bad about ourselves
·         we create an opening for Satan’s influence
·          possibly lose our Heavenly Father’s spirit

Example:

If I were me, sitting out there, looking up at the RS Pres. giving a lesson on divine nature or individual worth, I would think to myself “yeah, easy for her to say, she has it all together.”


I know it is very easy to feel like this rock. 


I don’t have it all together.  I know what I look like in the morning.  I struggle with my weight. I have dealt with depression for many years. I know that at 43 I still get pimples.  I know that I struggle with scripture reading.  I know that when we tell our kids we want to start having family home evening they ask "Why bother? Because it never works."

Now that you are wondering “why” they put “her” in as RSP? I ask:

How then, when I know all of these unattractive gray rock things about myself, am I expected to feel like this beautiful white statue;  full of individual worth and divine nature?

Is it possible that when we are comparing ourselves to others we are really asking “who am I?

If that is the case, then we need to know our identity.


Knowing our identity:

Julie B. Beck, Pres, Conf 2007

Knowing and defending the divine roles of women is so important in a world where women are bombarded with false messages about their identity. Popular media figures on the radio and television set themselves up as authorities and spokespersons for women. While these media messages may contain elements of truth, most preach a gospel of individual fulfillment and self-worship, often misleading women regarding their true identity and worth. These voices offer a counterfeit happiness, and as a result, many women are miserable, lonely, and confused.

The only place Latter-day Saint women will learn the whole and complete truth about their indispensable role in the plan of happiness is in this Church and its doctrine. We know that in the great premortal conflict we sided with our Savior, Jesus Christ, to preserve our potential to belong to eternal families. We know we are daughters of God, and we know what we are to do. Women find true happiness when they understand and delight in their unique role within the plan of salvation. The things women can and should do very best are championed and taught without apology here. We believe in the formation of eternal families. That means we believe in getting married. We know that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. That means we believe in having children. We have faith that with the Lord’s help we can be successful in rearing and teaching children. These are vital responsibilities in the plan of happiness, and when women embrace those roles with all their hearts, they are happy!


President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“You are second to none. You are daughters of God.

“There has come to you as your birthright something beautiful and sacred and divine. Never forget that. Your Eternal Father is the great Master of the universe. He rules over all, but He also will listen to your prayers as His daughter and hear you as you speak with Him. He will answer your prayers. He will not leave you alone” (“Stay on the High Road,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 112).


How can we know our identity?

How can we learn our identity and understand the divinely appointed mission the Lord has for us?


·         a parent or a leader
·         patriarchal blessings
·         Prayer
·         serving others
·         attend your church meetings



Patriarchal Blessing:

Pres. Monson, Nov 1986

Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make. It is the Spirit that conveys the true meaning. Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night.

Prayer:

Richard G. Scott, conf 2000

Let us encourage every woman who questions her value to turn to her Heavenly Father and His glorified Son for a supernal confirmation of her immense individual worth. I testify that as each woman seeks it in faith and obedience, the Savior will continually prompt her through the Holy Ghost. That guidance will lead her to fulfillment, peace, and a consuming joy through magnifying her divinely appointed, sacred womanhood.


Service:

James E. Faust  Conf. 2009

Serving others can begin at almost any age. Often the greatest service to others is one-on-one. It need not be on a grand scale, and it is noblest within the family.


Attend Church:

Susan W. Tanner, Young Women General President, Conf 2007

All over the world and in almost every language, young women ages 12 to 18 declare the same thing: “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.”  Yet as they grow up, they often grow away from the confident knowledge . . . that they are very special. Youth often experience an identity crisis, wondering who they really are. The teenage years are also a time of what I describe as “identity theft,” meaning that worldly ideas, philosophies, and deceits confuse us, buffet us, and seek to rob us of the knowledge of our true identity.

One very good young woman said to me, “Sometimes I am not sure who I am. I don’t feel Heavenly Father’s love. My life seems hard. Things are not turning out the way I wanted, hoped, and dreamed they would.” What I said to her I now say to young women everywhere: I know unequivocally that you are a daughter of God. He knows you, He loves you, and He has a plan for you.


This is spoken to the Young Women but I share it with you because it applies to us equally.  We are going to start having the Laurels come into RS on the 4th Sunday.  We will be joining them in standing and saying the YW Theme.  I love the YW theme.  I love that daughters of God all over the world are standing and saying “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.”  

I enjoyed being a part of that while serving in YW and I want you to be able to feel of that as well.


What can we do when we feel bad about ourselves?

Ok, great.  We all know this but how does this help me when I am stuck at home with a sick baby, a whiny toddler or a know-it-all teenager; if I am in the throes of depression; if I don’t have the emotional where-with-all to face a crowd at church; if I have a mountain of laundry to do, bills to pay, and meals to prepare?

Gray rock time:  I have had days where I haven’t come to church because I didn’t feel like I could be cheerful enough to be here.  Being in the midst of people who “have it all together” was too much.  I also struggle with temple attendance.  It causes anxiety in me. I am so afraid that I am going to do or say something wrong, that everyone will be looking at me or waiting on me, that I am a ball of anxiety and nerves. That makes it very hard for me to want to experience. It is something I am working on.


What can we do when we feel bad about ourselves?



·         Call a friend or a spouse
·         Pray
·         listen to good music
·         take a nap
·         go to the temple
·         read good books
·         take a walk
·         list our blessings
·         read your patriarchal blessing
·         serve others





James E. Faust  Conf. 2009

I wonder if you sisters fully understand the greatness of your gifts and talents and how all of you can achieve the “highest place of honor” in the Church and in the world. One of your unique, precious, and sublime gifts is your femininity, with its natural grace, goodness, and divinity. Femininity is not just lipstick, stylish hairdos, and trendy clothes. It is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your qualities of your capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each of you possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty.

One of your particular gifts is your feminine intuition. Do not limit yourselves. As you seek to know the will of our Heavenly Father in your life and become more spiritual, you will be far more attractive, even irresistible. You can use your smiling loveliness to bless those you love and all you meet, and spread great joy. Femininity is part of the God-given divinity within each of you. It is your incomparable power and influence to do good. You can, through your supernal gifts, bless the lives of children, women, and men. Be proud of your womanhood. Enhance it. Use it to serve others.


Silvia H. Allred, First Counselor, RS Pres, Conf 2009

I have witnessed the same miracle in the lives of many women in different parts of the world. They embrace the gospel, and Relief Society helps them strengthen their faith and grow spiritually by giving them leadership and teaching opportunities. In their service, a new dimension is added to their lives. As they progress spiritually, their sense of belonging, identity, and self-worth increases. They realize that the whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for us to reach our fullest potential. 


C. S. Lewis wisely said: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. … There are no ordinary people. … Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses” (“The Weight of Glory,” in Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces [1974], 109–10).


Gray rock time:  When I was going to counseling for depression several years ago, I had a counselor tell me that I should lower my standards.  Well, that just made me mad.  I thought “Why should I have to lower my standards!  Why shouldn’t my family have to raise theirs”!

It took a different therapist, to explain it to me in a different way, to understand his meaning.  I have to decide what really matters.  Will my children turn out horribly if there is dust on top of the fridge or dust bunnies under the sofa?  Will my eternal salvation be in jeopardy if the dishes don’t get done today?


We don’t have to do it all and we certainly don’t have to do it all TODAY!


We need to have some down time, some personal time, some me time.  I love the analogy of the bank account. (You have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals.)



Richard G. Scott, conf 2000

President Hinckley has eloquently captured what the Lord has repeatedly inspired His servants to say of His precious daughters:

Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

“Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.” 1


True Identity Realized!

What happens when we realize our true identity?  When we stop comparing ourselves to each other and learn to love the wonderful things about us?


OPEN ROCK


We realize that we are beautiful in our own way.  This geode is beautiful in its own way.  It doesn’t diminish the beauty of this statue; the statue doesn’t diminish the beauty of the geode.


Be the best YOU!


The Lord said: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).


This is our hope for you, as your presidency, that we can all realize that we are wonderful, beautiful, talented women.







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