Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I know my girl ain't so pretty as these girls

I really like the Visiting Teaching message this month. I have always taken great comfort in the fact that I am a Daughter of God and He loves me. During times of distress in my life, I recite the Young Women theme in my head over and over. The opening phrase, "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us..." immediately calms me. There was a quote in the lesson this month taken from President Faust's talk "What it Means to Be A Daughter of God."

He gave this talk in September of 1999. I was living in Toledo with my family and was really struggling with not having close friends in the area and not feeling like I was worth anything. It was a very stressful time in my life. The ward that we lived in was not too well-to-do but there was a group of women whose husbands were residents at the local medical college. They were all friends with each other and I didn't fit in with them. My husband was just starting his first job out of college and we didn't live in the right neighborhood (I actually heard someone in our ward say that if you lived east of Byrne Road, you were in the ghetto. We lived east of Byrne and were not in the ghetto by any stretch of the imagination.) I didn't get my hair done, I didn't wear the right clothes, we only had one car, my daughter was going to *gasp* Head Start (BTW: Out of all the preschools I have enrolled my children in, the Head Start program was far and away the best. So if you happen to be in the unfortunate position of being poor, give Head Start a try for your child.) The rest of the women in the ward were old and in my mind unfriendable. I had a stake calling at the time and loved the women I served with. I got to travel most Sundays and so I really didn't feel horrible unless I had to go to church in my home ward and interact with people. If I had to do that then I was lonely. It was time for the annual General RS Broadcast. There was a dinner beforehand and I debated whether or not I was going to attend. I really didn't want to but I got ready and drove over to the chapel. I got into the parking lot and saw all the cars and contemplated the conversations or lack thereof inside and kept on driving out of the parking lot away from the church. I pulled over at Monettes Market and sat for awhile thinking and trying to ignore the impression that I needed to return to the chapel. Eventually, I listened. I missed the dinner by just a few minutes, darnit. I don't remember any of the talks except Pres. Faust's. He spoke to my heart that night. Here's a piece of what he said that was just for me:

As daughters of God, you cannot imagine the divine potential within each of you. Surely the secret citadel of women’s inner strength is spirituality. In this you equal and even surpass men, as you do in faith, morality, and commitment when truly converted to the gospel. You have “more trust in the Lord [and] more hope in his word.” This inner spiritual sense seems to give you a certain resilience to cope with sorrow, trouble, and uncertainty.

You cannot imagine the gifts and talents each of you has. All women have appealing features. I do not refer to model-type appeal, but rather that which comes from your personality, your attitude, and your expressions. I urge you to enhance the natural, God-given, feminine gifts with which you have been so richly blessed. None of you should be so content that you cease to care about how you look or act. In his day, President Brigham Young encouraged women to get an education. This is still good counsel, but I hasten to add: in all your getting, do not lose your sweet femininity.

You sisters do not know the full extent of your influence. You sisters enrich all of humanity. All human life begins with you. Each woman brings her own separate, unique strengths to the family and the Church. Being a daughter of God means that if you seek it, you can find your true identity. You will know who you are. This will make you free—not free from restraints, but free from doubts, anxieties, or peer pressure. You will not need to worry, “Do I look all right?” “Do I sound OK?” “What do people think of me?” A conviction that you are a daughter of God gives you a feeling of comfort in your self-worth. It means that you can find strength in the balm of Christ. It will help you meet the heartaches and challenges with faith and serenity.

I wonder if you sisters can fully appreciate the innate gifts, blessings, and endowments you have simply because you are daughters of God. It is a mistake for women to think that life begins only with marriage. A woman can and must have an identity and feel useful, valued, and needed whether she is single or married. She must feel that she can do something for someone else that no one else ever born can do.

I left the chapel that night a new woman. I felt important and loved and I am so thankful that I listened as the Spirit whispered to my heart to turn around and go back. I knew that the Lord looked at my inner self and loved me no matter what my hair or clothes looked like or what my address was.

I am a Daughter of God and that's all I need to know to make it.


Stacie said...

I love President Faust! What a powerful talk; I need to read all of it. Thanks for sharing that with me earlier today.

Sara said...

Our son LOVED Head Start, the very same your daughter attended, and we enrolled him on your recommendation. He has very fond memories of his time there and the teachers were WONDERFUL. I am so glad we were in Toledo for a time when you still lived there and that our paths could cross. You are wonderful and I am thankful for the warm and loving and inclusive person you are. You were the first to call and welcome me to the ward, before we had even left Missouri. Thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone. After this post, I see how making that phone call must have taken a lot of gumption! Best wishes for your delivery -- I hope she's amazing, just like her mom.

C said...

Jennifer - You are everything Elder Faust said. Our kids love you so much. You are doing what is most important. Thank you. I love you.

Diana said...

My VTers just came this morning--interestingly enough, I'm having some feelings similar to the ones you felt a while back, and the message this morning made me cry. I try not to cry in front of people but I couldn't help it this morning. This was a very special message, for sure.

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