Gordon B. Hinckley, Lesson #5: Daughter of God
1. Introduction of lesson:
I’ve brought some people I love with me today. These women have things in common, as all we women do. They are all active members of the church. They all struggle with their thorns in the flesh, their flaws and weaknesses. And they all have amazing talents, testimonies, and missions in mortality. They are all related to me. (Explain what photo is what and a small detail about each one.)
My maternal grandmother was born Margaret Alice Talbot Memmott right here in Oak City. She raised a close and righteous family, and served 5 missions for the church (three with her husband, and 2 more after he died.) Given that she was gone for most of my formative years, it is miraculous to me that she has had more single influence on me than any other person on earth, except my own mother.
This is my Mother Sonja Lee Bronson Memmott, her dad was raised in Scipio. She had 9 children, lost one as an infant and had a stroke when I, her oldest, was 16 years old. Her indomitable faith and optimism are truly and inspiration to me.
And this mirror represents each of you, and all of our sisters, in all our daughter-of-God glory!
As I prepared this lesson, I pictured myself as a young woman, and I wondered: “If I had the chance, and knowing what I know now, what would I tell this young woman? This young woman who thought herself worthless, unattractive, talent-less, unworthy. A young woman who, while she read the scriptures, thought every harsh and critical word there was written for her, while anything comforting, or praiseworthy was written for “those other people” to whom she constantly compared herself. A woman who thought she’d never be “enough”. I’m sure my grandma, my mom and all of the rest of us have thought those same things at times.
If I could go back today, I would tell her the younger me the things a man who would one day be her prophet , President Gordon B, Hinckley said about her, and her mother, and her grandmother, and every other daughter of God ever born, including you. I would give her President Gordon B. Hinckley’s lesson #5.
This entire talk could be read aloud word for word and it would sound like a beautiful poem or a psalm. I hope you’ve read it, and will read it again. In fact, read it every time you doubt your talents, your worth, your divinity. I plan to. But reading is not the task at hand. I think we are gathered together in Spirit to create an opportunity for the Spirit to strengthen our testimonies, enlighten our minds, strengthen us, and help us serve each other. So let’s do that.
President Hinckley begins this lesson with how he felt about his mother and his wife. He loved honored and cherished them both, and felt their influence on him was powerful and profound.
President Hinckley often spoke about women’s divine nature and urged them forward to greater achievement and faith. To young women, he declared: “You are literally a daughter of the Almighty. There is no limit to your potential. If you will take control of your lives, the future is filled with opportunity and gladness. You cannot afford to waste your talents or your time. Great opportunities lie ahead of you.” Concerning adult women, he said: “The world needs the touch of women and their love, their comfort, and their strength. Our harsh environment needs their encouraging voices, the beauty that seems to fall within their natures, the spirit of charity that is their inheritance.”
At the general conference following the death of his beloved companion, Marjorie, President Hinckley concluded one of his addresses with this heartfelt expression of gratitude: “How thankful I am, how thankful we must all be, for the women in our lives. God bless them. May His great love distill upon them and crown them with luster and beauty, grace and faith. Each of you is a daughter of God. Reflect on all the wondrous meaning of that one paramount fact.”
2. The Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith applies to all.
( Share my experience after some particularly trying adversity – depression, divorce, single motherhood—when I read D&C 25, The Lord’s counsel given to us all, which he says is his voice until all of us! I read this chapter, and it burned itself into my very soul, in fact the way it says certain things about certain things, made it feel to me then, and now, like a 2nd Patriarchal Blessing to me.)
The twenty-fifth section of the Doctrine and Covenants … is a revelation given through Joseph the Prophet to his wife Emma. … Said he to Emma, and to each of us:
A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion” [D&C 25:2; see also verse 16]. …
Discussion: I wonder if you would look at your scriptures and tell me if you have any passages in the section underlined. Or if not, as you scan through it, does anything stand out to you? (Wait for response) If yes, ask sister to share that scripture and why she might have marked it. If no, see the green section…
Be faithful to him. He is the one true source of your strength. He is your Father in Heaven. He lives. He hears and answers prayers. Be faithful to God.
The Lord continued, saying to Emma, “If thou … walk in the paths of virtue.”
I think every woman … understands the meaning of that. I feel those words were given to Emma Smith, and consequently to all of us, as a condition to be observed if we are to receive an inheritance in the kingdom of God.
Emma was called “an elect lady” [D&C 25:3]. That is, to use another line of scripture, she was a “chosen vessel of the Lord.” (See Moro. 7:31.) Each of you is an elect lady. You have come out of the world as partakers of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. You have made your election, and if you are living worthy of it, the Lord will honor you in it and magnify you. …
She was to be a teacher. She was to study the gospel. She also was to study the things of the world in which she lived.
In the language of the revelation, [Emma] was to “expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.”
What a remarkable charge to her and to all of the women of this Church. There must be learning, there must be preparation, there must be organization of thought, there must be an expounding of the scriptures, there must be an exhortation to good works as directed by the Holy Spirit.
The Lord continued, “I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” [D&C 25:10]. (Example: Sister Nuttal)
Let’s read Verse 15: “Keep my commandments continually, and a CROWN of righteousness thou shalt receive!”
And in the end of this section, Verse 16: “…this is my voice unto all.”
I challenge you to read and ponder this section as though it were written to you personally; I would challenge my younger self, as I challenge each of you, to substitute your name for Emma’s, and listen for inspiration. I know that you will be inspired and blessed by so doing.
3. Women have a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God.
I remind you of words spoken by the Prophet Joseph to the women of the Relief Society in April of 1842. Said he: “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates” [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 454]. What marvelous potential lies within you.
You are very precious, each of you. … You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.
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.
Each of us are future queens of heaven. We have received, and will yet receive, many great promises and blessings. We are worthy of those blessings when we are doing our best, and inviting the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make up the difference.
4. Mothers and (mothers yet-to-be) have a sacred calling to bring up their children in faith and righteousness.
Each of us--mothers and mothers-yet-to-be--have a sacred calling to bring up their children in righteousness and peace.
Picture your worst woman-fails as though they were small items you could hold into your two cupped hands. I know I could fill a lot larger space than that…(pause here) I know as you participate in this exercise you start to feel sad, to feel less-than, to feel oh so hard on yourself. Now I want us to imagine that in a flash of Celestial light, Heavenly Father takes all those failings, and feelings, and leaves a glittering crown in its place. See how your heart feels immediately lighter? How tears appear at the corners of your eyes, and how your heart fills with gratitude? That is the power of the atonement, your Father in Heaven’s gift to us, as his daughters, to wipe our slates clean from present moment to present moment, and leave beauty for ashes. All the time. Every time.
I would tell my younger self: Here’s what works for me. Every time I get an “I failed” feeling (or others of Satan’s lies) I try to consciously realize that the mistake has already been made. It’s already in the past and cannot be corrected. It is already covered by the atonement if I repent and take the next step forward in my progress. Often, at this point, I will boomerang to a “But what will happen now?” worry as though I have ruined everything, or have to fix the harm done, even when much of that is beyond my mortal control. I remind myself, that outcome is in the future, and also out of my control. Fortunately for me---for each of us, that leaves it squarely in the hands of Almighty God, our Father, who has a plan for each of us. I can have faith in that, so what is left? What can I do right now to align myself with God’s plan? To be closer to the Spirit and therefore worthy of the insight/strength/comfort/blessings I feel such desperate need for? Ask yourself, what can I do right this minute? Then, as moved upon by the Spirit, do tha.
I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling. No other can adequately take your place. No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world.
Rear your children in light and truth. Teach them to pray while they are young. Read to them from the scriptures even though they may not understand all that you read. Teach them to pay their tithes and offerings on the first money they ever receive. Let this practice become a habit in their lives. Teach your sons to honor womanhood. Teach your daughters to walk in virtue. Accept responsibility in the Church, and trust in the Lord to make you equal to any call you may receive. Your example will set a pattern for your children.
God bless you, mothers! When all the victories and defeats of men’s efforts are tallied, when the dust of life’s battles begins to settle, when all for which we labor so hard in this world of conquest fades before our eyes, you will be there, you must be there, as the strength for a new generation, the ever-improving onward movement of the race. Its quality will depend on you.
4. Women have great responsibilities in the work of salvation.
God has given the women of this church a work to do in building his kingdom. That concerns all aspects of our great triad of responsibility—which is, first, to teach the gospel to the world; second, to strengthen the faith and build the happiness of the membership of the Church; and, third, to carry forward the great work of salvation for the dead.
5. Relief Society is a source of immeasurable blessings.
I would plead with my younger self to open her heart to Relief Society sooner and more openly.
The women of the Relief Society are literally encircled eternally in the arms of our Lord. In my judgment, this is the greatest women’s organization in all the world. It is a God-given creation. Joseph Smith spoke and acted as a prophet when he organized the Relief Society in 1842.
It is so tremendously important that the women of the Church stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord. I am convinced there is no other organization anywhere to match the Relief Society of this Church. … If [its members] will be united and speak with one voice, their strength will be incalculable.
God bless the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May the spirit of love which has motivated its members … continue to grow and be felt over the world. May their works of charity touch for good the lives of uncounted numbers wherever they find expression. And may light and understanding, learning and knowledge, and eternal truth grace the lives of generations of women yet to come, throughout the nations of the earth, because of this singular and divinely established institution.
I know that I personally have been blessed by each of you. (Single out a few…) You have taught lessons, been examples, shared your spirit and testimony and performed acts of service that have all had great influence on my life. Bless you!
6. Rise to the stature of the divinity within you.
You are a vast concourse of women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. … No one can calculate the tremendous force for good that you can become. … I charge you to stand tall and be strong in defense of those great virtues which have been the backbone of our social progress. When you are united, your power is limitless. You can accomplish anything you wish to accomplish. And oh, how very, very great is the need for you in a world of crumbling values where the adversary seems so very much to be in control.
I feel to invite women everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.
I express my gratitude to you faithful Latter-day Saint women, now numbered in the millions and found across the earth. Great is your power for good. Marvelous are your talents and devotion. Tremendous is your faith and your love for the Lord, for His work, and for His sons and daughters. Continue to live the gospel. Magnify it before all of your associates. Your good works will carry more weight than any words you might speak. Walk in virtue and truth, with faith and faithfulness. You are part of an eternal plan, a plan designed by God our Eternal Father. Each day is a part of that eternity.
I would say to my younger self: On your dark days, dust off that crown and place it right back up on that beautiful head of yours and know that you are a daughter of divinity, of royal birth, of celestial heritage. Rise to the great potential within you: as did Eve, Esther, Emma and Mary; as did Sheri Dew, and Julie B Beck and Marjorie Pay Hinckley; as did my beautiful mother, and my sweet little Oak City grandmother.
Of these things I bear If fervent witness. I know them to be true in ways more deeply personally than my younger self ever imagined.