This last weekend we had the privilege of driving up to see my sister-in-law Sierra perform in the BYU Women’s Chorus Spring Recital. As an added bonus, we also were able to get tickets to a session of General Conference for Griffin and me, Sierra and her friend, and my in-laws.
Friday evening, we were able to catch a portion of the choir practice, which was amazing, and then we returned later to see them tear it up with a variety of talent-filled pieces. The hymns they sang really brought the spirit and the more fun pieces really brought joy to the audience.
What surprisingly affected me the most (as a precursor to conference) was the guest choir. Before they would sing certain pieces, both the BYU Women’s Chorus and the guest choir, would read aloud the lyrics. I found this very helpful, both from a musical stand-point and it helped me understand the feeling the song was meant to have before it was sung.
The Guest Choir sung a religious number with very few lyrics, but the lyrics it did have were very powerful and very striking for me.
I believe in the sun, even when I cannot see it shine. I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.
This string of lyrics is believed to have been written in the time the Jewish people were suffering in Europe during WW2. Even without that context, these words spoke to my heart in a quick, piercing way.
Griffin and I are trying to start a family. And it just hasn’t happened yet. At times it really does feel like God is silent. That He doesn’t hear my cries. But I know that He does. I have felt His love in my life. And I know that at this time in my life it may feel like He is silent, but He is really waiting to bless me (or blessing me in a different way) because it is His will, not mine.
As these words pierced me on Friday night, it really primed me for Conference the next day. It also helped me realize what an impact a few simple words can have on someone (more on that later).
Before I go on, I want to give a big shout-out to my dear friend, Becky Fife, who gave an amazing talk last week in church, encouraging all of us to go into Conference with an attitude of acting on our promptings and direction from our prophets. We all come away uplifted, but we can often fail to turn those feelings into actions. Becky shared her list from last General Conference of all the action items we were given. This really encouraged me to not just take notes on the ideas of the talks but to write down what struck me deeply, and to write less, if only to allow the spirit to speak to me more, that I might hear what my personal actions might be. Often when I take notes in church meetings, I write an idea or concept, then on the next line draw an arrow pointing forward —-> and then write my action phrase–a personal “if this is true, then this must happen.” Or as Becky does, an A with a circle around it, almost a spiritual Avengers logo! I resolved to make my notes more about writing down promptings, especially when they involved specific actions, rather than trying to write a quote down verbatim.
Here are some of the moments that brought revelation to my heart, both in their words, and in their spirit:
(Some of these quotes are summarized or shortened. The official transcripts of these talks will be available Wednesday.)
Elder Nelson, Saturday AM:
“Faith that motivates us to action gives us more access to His power.”
I had been contemplating what true faith looked like, and this helped me see that faith is measured by the action we take because of it. As Joseph Smith said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary to lead unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith, pg 58).
Ulisses Soares, Saturday AM:
“Neither let not your heart be troubled, that the Lord will provide a way. We must reach up in faith. We must stretch spiritually. Our doubts and fears flee when we have faith.”
As I have felt the pull of the spirit and the guidance of what the Lord’s will is, I have felt a real spiritual stretch this weekend. I have finally come to a place where I can truly let go of my will and turn to His will in my life. This will require much stretching on my part (and trust me, I can feel it), but I know that I will be filled with the greater strength as I do the Lord’s will, even in my little corner of the world. And that the Lord will provide a way for me to do what he has commanded.
Elder Hales, Saturday PM:
“Faith is the foundation that leads us to action. Faith is a catalyst.”
My faith has continued to grow lately, and it has grown much. It seems the faith I have wanted to put forth (and have found the courage to do so this weekend) has truly become a catalyst as I seek to put away my will and seek the will of the Father.
Elder Holland, Saturday PM:
“It is by divine design that not all voices are the same in the choir of the Gospel. We must also accept the divine lyrics and sing in our own voice.”
This great metaphor given by Elder Holland struck my very deeply. Even while listening to this talk on the less-than-stellar car radio between my sleeping family, the words of this apostle of the Lord struck me to the core.
Even in the last few months I have heard other similar ideas, that there are no new ideas, only different perspectives, that only I can tell my story. But this metaphor really woke me up. First, God has created us all to have different voices and different lives. Second, the Lord has also given us divine lyrics that we must sing, even when some songs of joy have not yet been sung. And third, God asks us to do what only we can–to sing in our own voices.
As I have mentioned before and alluded to earlier in the post, my story and the words I could share about my story have been a source of motivation and excitement but also fear. I have a unique perspective, being an LDS woman who was married and then divorced in my 20s. I learned a great deal from it all and was able to healthily heal and find strength through Christ as I sought remarriage. A friend reminded me today of a staggering statistic of the number of single woman in the church (51%). We can assume many are never married or widows, but many are also divorced. While I cannot fully understand what it is like to be divorced after 25 years of marriage, as I was only married for 2 1/2 years, I fully understand the pain that divorce causes and the power the Atonement of Jesus Christ has to heal us.
I have wanted to begin to share my story and my wisdom about this topic for a while now, but for some reason have been caught up in what I think or the timing I think is correct for my life. What Elder Holland has made very clear to me is the power of my voice within the choir of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Elder Rasband, Sunday AM:
“We must act upon the first prompting. We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes we rationalize… When we second guess, we are dismissing the spirit, questioning divine counsel. When you do follow that first prompting, do not expect fireworks, you are about the work of the still small voice.”
I was apprehensive this morning about taking a leap, and stretching myself to act upon the clear promptings I felt yesterday. And then I attended our ward Family Home Evening potluck and the missionaries shared a scripture: “Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again” (3 Nephi 17:3).
Basically, the missionary was telling me to go home and think about what I have told you! As Elder Joaquin Costa also urged–to remember spiritual feelings! If we forget to remember with which strength the spirit testified to us, we are left with no strength to act with power and with confidence. We must remember and go home and ponder on the great and wonderful things of the gospel. We MUST ACT upon our FIRST prompting when it is fresh and strong. And before our fears and doubts have time to creep in…
Pres. Uchtdorf – Sunday AM:
“Rather than dwelling on the intensity of our challenges, would it not be better to focus on the greatness, goodness and absolute power of our God? In the face of fear, let us find our courage, muster our faith and have confidence in the promise that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”
Too often I let fear get in my way. Whether my fears are logical or not, I allow those voices to overpower the spiritual, faith-filled experiences and knowledge I already have. Fear does not come from God. And only God can replace fear with faith. I must remember this as I move toward acting on my promptings, big or small.
Elder Palmer – Sunday PM:
“Because He loves us, the Lord expects much of us. If we are humble, we welcome the Lord’s invitation to sacrifice as evidence of His perfect love for us. After all, an invitation to come unto Him is also an invitation of peace. Anytime you are asked to do something hard, think of the Lord beholding you, loving you and inviting you to let it go and follow Him and thank Him for loving you enough to invite you to do more.”
We may not always know why the Lord has asked us to take a certain path or why things must happen, but we will always know why He has trusted us with the responsibility: because He loves us. While at times this idea seems overwhelming to me, God does not give us hard things to do in life because he wants us to struggle and fail; He knows we can do it, He wants to see us stretch and accomplish great things, and He wants to make sure that we know we can do it, too.
Griffin has often said that one of my greatest strengths is that I always want to improve. Part of that comes my eagerness to learn and partly because of my awareness of my less-than-perfect self. In Ether 12:27 we learn that if we can show our weaknesses unto the Lord, they will become strengths. Elder Eyring in the Women’s Session encouraged us, helping understand that
“Those who see their weaknesses have been blessed.”
At times, seeing my weaknesses makes me feel inadequate, unable to measure up. But that just allows for more space for my Savior Jesus Christ to make up the rest.
Linda K. Burton, Women’s Session:
‘Do you want the highest glory?’
‘How do you think to gain it save by making the greatest sacrifices?’
Certain women know that covenant-keeping discipleship requires our willingness to sacrifice.
We may not have to make the sacrifices that the women in the scriptures and in the early days of the church did–sacrificing their bodies to cross the planes, often without food and shelter, or other physical trials–but we each have our own trials when we make an effort to become a certain woman who can sacrifice the thing that may be most difficult.
Today I am going to act on my first prompting and sacrifice something that has become very hard for me: control.
It has become very clear to me that the Lord has a certain path for me at this time that is different than my will. And that while I can see what good I can do on this path, it is also difficult to see too far in the future. But what I do know is that the Lord has put this path in my way because he loves me.
While part of my heart has been feeling that God has been silent, after this super-spirit-charged weekend, it has become clear that he has never been more vocal as to what I must do. He may be silent about what I wanted, but as for His plan for me, the divine lyrics have never been so clear.
@: The Lord’s will in my life….. share my story, write a book, help other women like me.
In the spirit of action, check out my new Author Facebook page. While it will mostly link to this blog, it will also be featuring other great content to help strengthen women of God.