My heart is burning and bursting right now. It is 3 AM on a Sunday morning and just last evening (Saturday) I attended the worldwide General Relief Society meeting broadcast for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was an evening full of Sisterhood, peace, love, and spiritual enlightenment as church and Relief Society leaders spoke and shared the messages which the Holy Spirit had impressed upon them to share. I am grateful for their messages, for their testimonies, and for their boldness.
Now it is my turn to be bold, to share my own testimony that Jesus Christ lives; that He is my Savior, and that He loves me.
I cannot count the number of times in my life I have heard church leaders try to impress upon us exactly how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love women. I’ve heard them say it many times, but never with so much force and conviction have I truly seen and felt that love for myself.
A couple weeks ago, I was having a really rough time. As the mother of three small boys ages five and under, I felt—as I often do—utterly overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for and nurturing my family with the love, patience, energy, and understanding which I felt I should be doing but at which I feared I was failing miserably. After a long day, I was expressing some of my frustration to my husband, who had my six-month-old baby on his lap, facing me. At one point I looked at my baby and he looked back and smiled a winning smile which melted my heart as it usually does. But it was the words my husband spoke next which really arrested that particular moment in my memory.
He said, “Look, dear. Look at your baby. That is the look of true love right there.”
And right then I felt the beginning of a swelling in my soul, which has been growing ever since, and the ever-growing realization that it is true. That my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ really do love me.
Do I deserve that love? Probably not. But they love me nonetheless, because I need that love.
And this morning I want to pronounce to my Sisters everywhere, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love women. Sure, they love all their Children. But they love Women especially, with a special love, with an extra measure of love that is ours and ours alone.
Why? Because we are the caregivers. We are the mothers. We are the wives. We are the daughters. We are the sisters. And in all these roles, it is women that the children of the Lord turn to when they need to be succored, to be nurtured, to be loved. And were it not for that extra measure of love bestowed upon us by our Creator, we would not have enough love to give to others who need it.
Oftentimes people in the world who wish to challenge the Church and question the role of women within the organization like to point out the fact that our church does not allow women to hold the Priesthood nor perform Priesthood ordinances. Instead, the Priesthood is reserved only for the faithful men in the Church. The world looks upon this fact and believes that women are somehow being cheated, that we are being oppressed. This is false.
In fact, I have come to believe that we as women have been given our own parallel “priesthood” within the Church and—by extension—in the world. It is different from, but no less equal to, that Priesthood Power granted to the Lord’s faithful male follwers. It is that same love of which I wrote before. Just as Christ laid his hands upon His Apostles’ heads in ancient times to confer upon them the Preisthood and Power of God on Earth—which was restored to Joseph Smith in the Latter-Days and passed down by the laying on of hands to this day—so has Christ placed His hands upon the hearts of the women of the Church and conferred upon us the Love of Christ. In other words, Charity is our priesthood. And we ought to be fulfilling our duties in this area with the same resolve and dilligence which we expect from the Brethren in fulfilling their Priesthood duties.
Within a home, a man may be the head, but the woman is the heart. Men are the heads of the Church under the authority and direction of the Savior. But without women—without the Sisters—His Love could not be poured out so abundantly as it is. It is through the women of the Church that Charity prevails. It is the Love of Christ which inspires and empowers us to serve and bless the rest of the world with that Love. It is our calling. It is our sacred trust.
I humbly and fervently pray, in the name of my Savior and Brother Jesus Christ, that I may fulfill that Calling throughout the rest of my life with the same resolve which I feel right now.