by Tom Kimball, President of the Lubbock Texas North Stake
Women are an important part of who I am. Taking nothing away from the influence of my father or my older brother who I love dearly, my interaction with my mom and four sisters has been vital.
My mom is a smart, capable, and strong person. She is a force to be reckoned with. Her motto is “I wait for no man.” She could beat me in a sprint and at an arm wrestle until I was about 15 years old. Anytime I got a little too big for my britches, she would challenge me to a race from our house to the corner—about 100 yards. As a side note, it seems to increase a 12-year-old’s humility and decrease his attitude of entitlement when his mom waxes the floor with him in a foot race. She was my primary discipliner and my primary source of comfort and strength when I was young.
I have four sisters who I love dearly and who love me. My oldest sister, Cindy, my second mother, taught me how to read and continues to be the embodiment of generosity I try to follow. My younger sister Sarah taught me how to tie my shoes. She is an old soul who is full of kindness and common sense. Kellie, who saved me from drowning when I was 7, is honest, direct and hilarious. And Michelle, who has the biggest heart of any of us, is beyond loyal and the keeper of relationships in our family. All of them are wicked smart and not to be trifled with.
In my Ph.D. program, I wrote many papers about my family. In my journey to find myself, I once wrote that I could be better described as the 5th sister in my family. It’s a self-given title I embrace with respect and honor.
When I was 13, I met Melissa. She was lovely, smart, and righteous. I was so drawn to her then. We began dating just shy of our 17th birthdays. Except for my two-year mission in Hawaii, we have been together. We will celebrate 24 years of marriage this July. She is the best person I know. She is the love of my life. I want her and none else.
I share this with you so when I tell you that you are beautiful you will understand that it comes from a place of me, as your spiritual brother, telling you, my spiritual sisters, that you are lovely and that you are beautiful.
You Are Beautiful Women
Embracing your beauty is the 1st message your Heavenly Parents wish you to hear. President Heber J. Grant once said, “A beautiful . . . woman is the perfect workmanship of God.” In the Spirit of what Elder Bednar taught our stake when he visited recently, perfection takes eternity and the word perfect needs to be changed to complete. Thus, a beautiful woman is the most complete workmanship of God. And so you are. I believe we often misunderstand the word beautiful in this sense.
Although each of you have physical attributes of beauty—yes I said each of you—the Lord cares very little about such things. As he said to Samuel the prophet, “for the Lord seeth not as a man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
So what does it mean to be beautiful before the Lord? Beautiful means to have noble and spiritual qualities. Each of you are noble and each of you have been given spiritual gifts. Your nobility was secured in the premortal world as daughters of God. But this nobility was exemplified in the Garden of Eden when Eve was created.
The prophet Gordon B. Hinckley taught,
“Women are 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.”
I testify that this is true and that you, who are the daughters of the covenant, my sisters in Zion, are beautiful, joint heirs with Christ, queens and prophetesses in His kingdom.
It is so important that you understand who you are and that you are beautiful in order to do what must be done. Owning and knowing your own beauty makes you powerful. As a wonderful woman leader of our church, Sheri Dew, once said, “No woman is a more vibrant instrument in the hands of the Lord than a woman of God who is thrilled to be who she is.”
When You Question Your Purpose
I know there are some of you that are currently not so thrilled with who you are. You question yourself, your physical attributes, your weaknesses, your trials, your anxieties, your depression, your efforts, and your very identity. I express to you with everything I have that the God in Heaven and His Son who gave his life for you and created you (with all of your gifts and weaknesses) did so according to Their Holy Mind and will. Your tendencies, your personality, your experiences were given to you to give you the best chance to come back to your Heavenly home.
It is the normal course of life to be overwhelmed, to feel frustrated, to be crushed at times with the weight of life. Sheri Dew said it this way,
There will be days when you feel defeated, exhausted, and plain old beat-up by life’s whiplash. People you love will disappoint you – and you will disappoint them. You’ll probably struggle with some kind of mortal appetite. Some days it will feel as though the veil between Heaven and Earth is made of reinforced concrete.
Welcome to life. Regardless of what you see from the outside, no one has it easy. Life can be cruel and hard. But, Sister Dew goes on,
“You were recommended to help run the last leg of the relay that began with Adam and Eve because your pre-mortal spiritual valor indicated you would have the courage and the determination to face the world at its worst, to do combat with the evil one during his heyday, and, in spite of it all, to be fearless in building the kingdom of God.
“You simply must understand this because you were born to lead by virtue of who you are, the covenants you have made, and the fact that you are here now in the 11th hour.”
My beautiful sisters, “you were born to lead by virtue of who you are.” In this the 11th hour, you must be a vibrant instrument in the hands of God.
Being a vibrant instrument does not mean you have to do everything. Many of us live by the erroneous belief that we are inadequate, that we don’t do enough, that the Lord is displeased when we are moved to help someone and we just can’t get to it that day. That because we are human we stand on perilous ground before God and His almighty Son.
I promised you as your Stake President that I would be straight with you and not sugar coat the message. The thought of you the beautiful sisters and daughters of Zion, you who keep the commandments, repent when you make mistakes, and do what you can to serve others being on perilous standing before God is absolute garbage and an outright lie.
The Lord who understands everything certainly understands you must make choices throughout your day as to where you should put your precious energy. The Savior of the world, whose work this is, certainly understands that you are only one woman with a variety of important things to do each day.
The Lord has asked that I help you think about your priorities. Let’s list a few. This is not an exhaustive list but I hope it serves to help you understand what I am talking about.
#1. Your relationship with your Heavenly Father and His Son.
This has nothing to do with your church calling. This is how connected you feel to your Savior and the Spirit. Learning to take time for yourself is important to this relationship to thrive. Exercise, eating well, reading good books, and other ways of coping well with the difficulties of life are all part of this self-care. If you pack the logs of life too tightly, they will suffocate your spiritual flame. You must create space between the logs in order for your spiritual fire to burn.
#2. Your relationship with your husband—if you have one.
The Lord wants you to take care of your husband and for your husband to take care of you. This relationship takes time and energy. The Lord expects both of you to take care of each other and to be bound together in commitment, friendship, and passion. It takes hard work, sacrifice, and time.
#3. Your relationship with your children—if you have them.
Except in cases of abuse, your spouse should always come before your children. Your spouse should also support you in all that needs to happen for and in behalf of your children. A side message to moms: You don’t have to do everything. It is important that the crappy things that have to be done in life be shared with your husband and children. Why should you have all the fun? Children should make reasonable and important contributions to the running and cleaning of the household.
Sometimes this priority broadens to include extended family as dictated by individual circumstances and need.
#4. Your responsibility to your employer—if you have one – and the pressing things that need to be checked off the list for today.
Employment is another opportunity to stretch yourself and find new talents. Elder L. Tom Perry counseled employees to
Be loyal to your employers. Determine to be the best in your chosen field of endeavor. Each day make a full effort to be more productive than you were the day before. I challenge you to be leaders in your chosen professions and occupations.
Elder M. Russell Ballard’s thoughts on being content with daily accomplishments bring peace
To you who feel harried and overwhelmed and who wonder whether you ever will be able to run fast enough to catch the departing train you think you should be on, I suggest that you learn to deal with each day as it comes, doing the best you can, without feelings of guilt or inadequacy. I saw a bumper sticker the other day, sisters, that may say it all:
“God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind, I will never die!”
… When you have done the best you can, be satisfied and don’t look back and second-guess, wondering how you could have done more. Be at peace within yourselves. Rather than berate yourself for what you didn’t do, congratulate yourself for what you did.
#5: Your church calling.
To do your church calling well, you may have to say no to things less important. I know that the Spirit will help you decide what bad and good things need to be placed aside for what is better and best.
Some of you may be asking in your head, “but President, with these priorities, what do I do with the spiritual messages and directions I receive to help sister so and so or when I feel inspired to reach out to this person or that person?”
Heeding Spiritual Promptings
Because of your spiritual gifts, you will receive many messages to perform service and to reach out to others. Let me help you understand what is really happening. In order to move forward His work and attend to His children, the Lord will send out numerous spiritual messages to his sons and daughters to help each other.
The way I think about it is hearing spiritual messages is like being tuned into Heavenly Father’s radio station. Because you are beautiful and noble women, you are tuned in and listening to God’s spiritual programming. You are hearing the spiritual messages being broadcast to all those with hearts and ears to hear. It is an ongoing never ending program. You may hear, “sister so and so is hurting and needs love and support.” Or, “sister so and so could use dinner, a phone call, or a visit.”
I hope it gives you comfort to realize that there are several other women, men, visiting teachers, home teachers, bishops, relief society presidents, Elders quorums, High Priests, etc. etc. that have hearts and ears to hear and are also receiving similar types of messages. Just because you hear it doesn’t mean that you are solely responsible to respond or do something about it.
The Lord understands that you cannot do everything, and thus relies upon many to get done what needs to be done to build His kingdom and fulfill His purposes.
How do you know if the message is for you or the Lord’s programming is specifically directed for you as a call for action?
If the message is about your spouse or your children it most definitely is for you. If the message is repeated over and over then it may be for you. If you have a specific stewardship with your calling or an assignment like a visiting teacher, God’s inspiration and message may be especially for you. If it is an immediate need, God will make it clear that you need to act.
In addition to these guidelines, you can always get on your knees and ask the Lord if the message you are hearing needs immediate action, can wait, or if it was attended to by another.
Remember You Are Only One Person
In your prayers to your Father in Heaven in the name of his Son, remember you are only one person. You only have so many fire trucks to send to the fires that burn today.
I believe it was Sheri Dew who first used the metaphor. It goes like this, there are always thirty fires to put out in any given day. Thirty task, thirty jobs, thirty responsibilities, and thirty opportunities to serve. But, even the best of us only have a limited number of fire trucks to send to the fires.
So how do we decide where to send the fire trucks? The simple answer is to get down on our knees and ask the Lord where to send our limited number of fire trucks today. We then do our best to put out those fires. When we need it, and we always do, we ask for help from others to put out some of the fires.
Realizing the Lord will send messages to others to assist in putting out the fires or will gives us time tomorrow helps us to live and be present today and leave tomorrow in His hands.
Try not to feel bad that you have only the limited number of fire trucks you have, because we are all limited. Welcome to being weak and human. God only expects you to do the best you can with what he has given you.
Remember you are beautiful and God loves you. Owning and knowing your identity makes you powerful to build his kingdom.
Your first priority is your personal relationship with your Heavenly Father and His Son. Taking care of you, having space between the logs of life so your spiritual fire can burn is so important. Also, remember when you feel moved to service or hear spiritual things, you are hearing the spiritual programming God is broadcasting to all those that have hearts and ears to hear. He will help you know if the message is for you and where to send your fire trucks.
To the Men
Now a final message for us men. We have an obligation to treat our beautiful spiritual sisters with respect, love and tenderness. God certainly does love us and will forgive us for our sins and weaknesses but his anger is kindled against us when we mistreat one of His daughters or put them down or objectify them in any manner.
Amen to the power and authority of any man who is offensive to woman, who does not honor them, seek their spiritual council or does not change his ways, thoughts, and feelings regarding the nature and place of women in God’s kingdom.
I bear testimony that these things are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.