Virtue + Charity = Power – Trying to Be like Jesus in Deed and in Thought

I just got a new calling as a team teacher for the missionary prep class in our stake.  I taught my first lesson yesterday, and then saw this message today.   It’s so inspiring.  I am impressed today about the importance that virtue plays in doing the Lord’s work.

When the Savior was touched by the woman who was plagued with an “issue of blood”, the Lord knew that someone had touched Him because, as the scripture states,  he immediately [knew] in himself that virtue had gone out of him, Mark 5:25-34.  Virtue, or the power that flows freely from virtue was part of the Savior, because He was the perfect being, the Lamb without blemish, one without sin (see also Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46 – note that virtue and love are so vital to this scripture, and I am speaking about Christlike love, not lust, here.).

If we want to be effective leaders, teachers, mentors, spouses, parents, friends, etc. then it behooves us to follow the Master’s example on this point.  To quote from the talk that the video was taken from (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, We are all Enlisted, Gen. Conf. October 2011) –

Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called “forbidden paths”5 and expect to guide others to the “strait and narrow”6 one—it can’t be done.

I also have a calling as the Primary Chorister.  This month, our song is I’m trying to be like Jesus.  I scoured the internet for ideas and found some great ones on Sugardoodle.  I quoted the scripture, Alma 5:14 –  Have ye received his image in your countenance.  We discussed what that meant, and I  took a mirror and a picture of the Savior and asked the children how their image was like the Savior’s (head, hair, eyes, etc.) and then we talked about the fact that as we spend time with people, we begin to behave and act, and sometimes look, like the people that we spend time with (I joked here about pegging my pants in High School – if you are reading this and went to school in the 90’s you’ll know what I’m talking about :). )

We began to discuss the scripture, 2 Nephi 9:9, which states that if we had not had a Savior, that we would have become like Satan, And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; and then we talked about the song , line by line –

I’m trying to be like Jesus,
I’m following in His ways.
I’m trying to love as He did
In all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted
To make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen
As the still small voice whispers:

CHORUS  – Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

I’m trying to love my neighbor.
I’m learning to serve my friends.
I watch for that day of gladness
When Jesus will come again.

I try to remember the lessons he taught,
And the holy spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

CHORUS

Note that the whole song is about kindness, and gentleness, and being loving, and listening to the Holy Spirit.  I talked to the kids about a friend of mine, who, one day when his child had made a mistake, got angry and yelled, “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”  Well, for one thing, He probably wouldn’t have yelled.  He probably would have  taken the child aside to sit down and discuss the problem, and then, would have shown forth love and expressed faith that the child would make a better choice in the future.

Finally, we talked about Moroni 7:47-48, which talks about charity, the pure love of Christ, and that, if we ask, and are filled with this love, when he shall appear we shall be like him – what an amazing thought!  That by spending time with the Savior (through scripture study, worship, and following the Spirit), and by acting as He would act – acts of love and virtue,  we will become like Him.   If we become like Him, then we will have power to do His works (see John 15: 1-7 and John 14:12).  I can’t imagine that we would sit back and expect the Savior to “tow the line” and live virtuously, and then, conversely not expect  Him to have requirements for us to follow.  We use and appreciate the Grace that He provided through His infinite atonement, and then to not try to be virtuous and loving  in our daily walk – it just doesn’t make sense.

We just finished watching the London 2012 Olympics – how inspiring to watch those men and women who had worked for four years to become something great.  How wonderful is our Coach, who accepts us, yes, but then invites us to become something better.  Who sees our divine potential to become great, to do great things in this world, to be more than the man or woman sitting on the couch, eating doughnuts, and watching T.V.  He wants so much more for each of us, and the way that we start on the path is to begin to “try to be like Jesus.”

Grace: The price has been paid, the opportunity has been opened.

I had a wonderful Sunday School lesson today.  At the beginning, the teacher decided to stray from the lesson momentarily and share an excerpt from a talk that he had come across.  I am so thankful that he did.  It was worth the trip to Colorado to learn (of course road trips and visiting with family and friends is fantastic as well).  I think that acquiring gospel knowledge is like putting together a gigantic puzzle.  There are parts that you are working on, and then you get that one piece that illuminates the area that you had been focused on.  Today, I got one of those pieces.

It was from a talk by Brad Wilcox, BYU Professor and Sunday School General Board member, given at a BYU Devotional, 12 July 2011.  The  talk is entitled,  His Grace Is Sufficient and the full transcript can be found here.

He began by discussing a conversation that he had with a female student about grace.  I quote from the talk here (excerpts of the talk will be in italics) –

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Cover Us

She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”

She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.

She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”

He went on to draw on a paper two dots – one that represented God, and the other her, and asked if she would draw a line to God that represented how much was her part.  She drew a line just over her dot to which he answered, “Wrong.”   He said the following:

“The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a
few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”

“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we
plan to stay there.”

Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 3 Nephi 28:35).

“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”

“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”

Then he went on to provide a fantastic analogy, one that really resonated with me –

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Transform Us

Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. … Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.

If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane.

In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, He can now turn to us and say, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19), “Keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we see His requirements as being way too much to ask (“Gosh! None of the other Christians have to pay tithing! None of the other Christians have to go on missions, serve in callings, and do temple work!”), maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must ‘repay’ him in exchange forhis paying our debt to justice, but because repentance initiates a developmental process that, with the Savior’s help, leads us along the path to a saintly character” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 149; emphasis in original).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, referring to President Spencer W. Kimball’s explanation, “The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change” (The Lord’s Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991], 223; emphasis in original). Let’s put that in terms of our analogy: The child must practice the piano, but this practice has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change.

I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.”

I say, “No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”

They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”

I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”

Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” As Moroni puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (see Moroni 7:48).

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly (see John 10:10). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed (see Romans 8). Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no unchanged thing will even want to. …

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us — part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists.

Think about the difference between a person who has just started practicing the piano, and someone who has been playing for years.  What’s the difference?  Practice.  What’s the difference between someone who has just started to learn a language and someone who has been speaking it for years?  Practice.  But remember that the more effort you put into the task, the better you will become.  Can you imagine what a lifetime of someone trying to put the teachings of Jesus into practice would be like?  Brother Wilcox then began a section that I think is so important to understand because we all live in the world.  The world (as Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it) is a laboratory for learning to be Christlike.  And it can be a very harsh lab, very real, and very difficult –

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Help Us

“But Brother Wilcox, don’t you realize how hard it is to practice?  I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?

Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.

There are young women who know they are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them, and they love Him. Then they <graduate from high school, and the values they memorized are put to the test. They slip up. They let things go too far, and suddenly they think it is all over. These young women don’t understand grace.

There are young men who grow up their whole lives singing, “I hope they call me on a mission,” and then they do actually grow a foot or two and flake out completely. They get their Eagles, graduate from high school, and go away to college. Then suddenly these young men find out how easy it is to not be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, or reverent. They mess up. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “This is stupid. I will never do it again.” And then they do it. The guilt is almost unbearable. They don’t dare talk to a bishop. Instead, they hide. They say, “I can’t do this Mormon thing. I’ve tried, and the expectations are just way too high.” So they quit. These young men don’t understand grace.

I know returned missionaries who come home and slip back into bad habits they thought were over. They break promises made before God, angels, and witnesses, and they are convinced there is no hope for them now. They say, “Well, I’ve blown it. There is no use in even trying any more.” Seriously? These young people have spent entire missions teaching people about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and now they think there is no hope for them? These returned missionaries don’t understand grace.

I know young married couples who find out after the sealing ceremony is over that marriage requires adjustments. The pressures of life mount, and stress starts taking its toll financially, spiritually, and even sexually. Mistakes are made. Walls go up. And pretty soon these husbands and wives are talking with divorce lawyers rather than talking with each other. These couples don’t understand grace.

In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13). …

As dark as our trials, sins, and mistakes may appear, we can always have confidence in the grace of Jesus
Christ. Do we earn a sunrise? No. Do we have to be worthy of a chance to begin again? No. We just have to accept these blessings and take advantage of them. As sure as each brand-new day, grace—the enabling power of Jesus Christ—is constant. … The task ahead of [us is] never as great as the power behind [us].

Now, doesn’t that make you fell more confident in your ability to become something great with the opportunity that has been so greatly given.  It does for me.

Jesus the Perfect Leader

A friend of mine sent a talk over for me to read.  It was entitled, Jesus the Perfect Leader by President Spencer W. Kimball to the Young Presidents organization, Sun Valley, Idaho, 15 January 1977.  It was so timely for me to read these very amazing thoughts.  I wanted to share a few here.  A full copy of the talk can be found here, the whole thing is worth a read.

President Kimball began by saying that if we wanted to be good leaders and examples we should follow that of the Savior, whose “attributes and skills he demonstrated so perfectly. These same skills and qualities are important for us all if we wish to succeed as leaders in any lasting way.”  By leaders, I think that roles as parents can be counted even as importantly as those leadership opportunities over vast congregations or employees.

He went on to say the following:

  • Jesus kept himself virtuous, and thus, when his closeness to the people permitted them to touch the hem of his garment, virtue could flow from him. (See Mark 5:24–34.)

I want to study the relationship between virtue and power.

The other day, I watched a show about people who hoard things, usually so much that it makes living in the home virtually impossible.   A woman on this particular episode had mountains of clothes and shoes in her home.  And I mean mountains – floor to ceiling with barely a hallway in-between to get to the next room of clothes.  She said that she was “high maintenance” and loved to have “lots of choices.”  The therapist on the show said something to the effect of, “haven’t you noticed that having too many choices, in reality, takes away all of your choices.”

It’s such an interesting (and seemingly opposite) idea that if you put limits on things, it actually gives you more power, more choices, more freedom.

So the connection between the Savior’s virtue and His ability to have that virtue flow out of Him that effectively heals others –  still working on that.  Any thoughts?  If that is true, then what conclusions can be drawn about a virtuous priesthood holder?

Another idea that I loved from the talk:

  • Jesus had perspective about problems and people. He was able to calculate carefully at long range the effect and impact of utterances, not only on those who were to hear them at the moment, but on those who would read them 2,000 years later. So often, secular leaders rush in to solve problems by seeking to stop the present pain, and thereby create even greater difficulty and pain later on.

I say way too much.  I need to calculate the impact of my utterances more – with my students, friends, family, spouse, and especially with my children.

There was a section on Responsibility, which I could spend hours on, but here’s the jist:

  • Jesus knew how to involve his disciples in the process of life. He gave them important and specific things to do for their development. Other leaders have sought to be so omnicompetent that they have tried to do everything themselves, which produces little growth in others. 
  • Jesus trusts his followers enough to share his work with them so that they can grow. That is one of the greatest lessons of his leadership. If we brush other people aside in order to see a task done more quickly and effectively, the task may get done all right, but without the growth and development in followers that is so important. Because Jesus knows that this life is purposeful and that we have been placed on this planet in order to perform and grow, growth then becomes one of the great ends of life as well as a means. We can give corrective feedback to others in a loving and helpful way when mistakes are made.
  • Jesus let people know that he believed in them and in their possibilities, and thus he was free to help them stretch their souls in fresh achievement.
  •  Jesus believed in his followers, not alone for what they were, but for what they had the possibilities to become. While others would have seen Peter as a fisherman, Jesus could see him as a powerful religious leader—courageous, strong—who would leave his mark upon much of mankind. In loving others, we can help them to grow by making reasonable but real demands of them.

I think that giving others responsibility is such a powerful idea, and can be life-changing – both mine and others.

Accountability was another section:

  •  A good leader will remember he is accountable to God as well as to those he leads. By demanding accountability of himself, he is in a better position, therefore, to see that others are accountable for their behavior and their performance. People tend to perform at a standard set by their leaders.

Taking honest responsibility for our actions, without blaming others or situations for our reactions is powerful.  Even better is training ourselves to react in more appropriate ways when life throws a curve ball.  For example, instead of swearing when your child knocks over a drink, perhaps comfort and a helping hand will go a long way to give the child a secure environment and a pattern to follow.

There is a section on the wise use of time, having time for leisure and structuring time without being “frantic or officious”:

  • Time cannot be recycled. When a moment has gone, it is really gone. The tyranny of trivia consists of its driving out the people and moments that really matter. Minutia holds momentous things hostage, and we let the tyranny continue all too often. Wise time management is really the wise management of ourselves.

I just keep reading and re-reading this last.  How can I train my children to understand this?  How can I teach myself to do this?

My final thought from this talk is so encouraging, it makes we want to be better, to do better:

  • One of the great teachings of the Man of Galilee, the Lord Jesus Christ, was that you and I carry within us immense possibilities. In urging us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, Jesus was not taunting us or teasing us. He was telling us a powerful truth about our possibilities and about our potential. It is a truth almost too stunning to contemplate. Jesus, who could not lie, sought to beckon us to move further along the pathway to perfection.
That just gives me so much hope and courage about my life and abilities.  I’m going to go out and have a wonderful day – you?

Gifts – Both Good and Evil

Gifts - Good and Evil

I’ve always been fascinated by the scripture that states, “touch not the evil gift” ( Moroni 10:30). It seems to imply that the Devil gives gifts, just as the Lord does.

We know that the Lord gives gifts, both physical and spiritual, in fact, we are told to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31) and to “lay hold upon every good gift” ( Moroni 10:30).  There are many, many scriptures that touch on the Gifts of the Spirit, their importance in our work here on the earth, and the ability that is ours to reach out to Father in Heaven and literally ask for the gifts that we stand in need of.

George Q Cannon (First Counselor in the First Presidency from 1880 -1901) stated this about Spiritual gifts, and  it is exquisite –

If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect.  Have I imperfections?  I am full of them.  What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections … They are intended for this purpose.  No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.”  He is not justified in it, for [that reason] God has promised to give strength to correct these things and to give gifts that will eradicate them … (Nov. 26, 1893, Deseret Weekly 48:34-5).

The Lord has said in a revelation to the Church that the Saints should “seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; for verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:8-9).  How many Latter-day Saints are there who supplicate the Lord for the gifts that they need?  …

Every defect in the human character can be corrected through the exercise of faith and pleading with the Lord for the gifts that He has said He will give unto those who believe and obey His commandments (Oct. 1, 1896, Juvenile Instructor 31:572).

I’ve pondered these thoughts for a while, but recently had an experience which made all the ideas come together in a new and interesting way for me.  I can be such a lazy woman at times.  It’s terrible!  Ugh, to admit it to you makes me shudder, but there it is.  So, I’ve been asking in prayer to stop being lazy.  But the laziness continued…

Then it occurred to me that instead of asking for something to be taken away, I should ask for a gift that would replace the bad habit.  What’s the opposite of laziness?  I began to ask for the gift of industry.  It was amazing to see my focus shift, my will strengthen, and my desire and ability to do the mountain of tasks ahead of me, increase.

I began to think of the scripture (mentioned above), “touch not the evil gift.” Laziness, apathy, hatred, insecurity, sloth, etc.  all are gifts that Satan is more than willing to give us.  God, on the other hand, doesn’t even deal with those attributes – not even to take them away, as was my foolish prayer.  He focuses on “the fruit of the Spirit … love, joy, peace, longsufferring, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”  etc. (see Galatians 5:16 -23).

He’s told us to ask for “whatsoever thing [we] are in need of,” (there are too many references to this one – just look up the word “ask” in the scriptures and see how many times the Lord has asked us to ask, I make it 405 – give or take).

Our future, our ability, our capacity, our abundance is truly in our own hands as we decide which gifts we will accept and which we will ask for.

How Women Can Gain Power: A Response to “Why Standard’s Night is Sub-Standard – teaching sexuality to young women”

I just read a very fascinating article by Kathryn Soper, entitled – Why Standards Night Is Substandard: Teaching Sexuality to the Young Women.

She talked about a young girl’s need to feel love, quoting an article by President Benson:

I recognize that most people fall into sexual sin in a misguided attempt to fulfill basic human needs. We all have a need to feel loved and worthwhile. We all seek to have joy and happiness in our lives. Knowing this, Satan often lures people into immorality by playing on their basic needs. He promises pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment (The Message: The Law of Chastity, New Era, January 1988).

She states – To put it simply, thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old girls don’t have sex because they desperately want sex. They have sex because they desperately want something else. President Benson points out several psychological necessities we mistakenly seek through illicit sex — love, joy, fulfillment… .

Then she  names another reason that young girls begin to harness their own sexuality – the thrill of power that  she finds when she learns that she is becoming a woman and can capture the attention of men.

To tell you the truth, I knew exactly what she meant as she talked about the first time she wore mascara to a dance when she was a young woman.  I remembered the moments in my life when I felt that power.

There was a poignant moment when she discussed a mother, desperately worried about her daughter’s intimate relationship, and she (the author) asked if the daughter [had] power in her life.

Then she said that the mother, looked uneasy, and I didn’t blame her. Power is not a commodity we associate with Mormon girls and women. To our ears the very concept of power sounds worldly and corrupt, unless we’re talking about priesthood power, which we qualify as exclusively masculine. But I wasn’t talking about priesthood power, and I wasn’t talking about the steel-fisted power of a political dictator or corporate mogul, either.

I tried to explain. “What I mean is, does Amy sense that she’s in control of her own life? That she has the right and the ability and the opportunity to get what she wants and what she needs?”

Finally she discussed the problem with that kind of power –

She knows the power of sexual attraction, but she doesn’t need a man’s approving gaze or hungry touch to feel strong… All of humanity suffers every time a woman, young or not, uses her body not to express herself, but to secure a self; not to feel pleasure, but to gratify another’s; not to share love, but to barter for it.

While I agreed with most of her arguments and enjoyed her writing style, I felt frustrated that she didn’t take it a step further and talk about HOW to gain power in other ways, or offer suggestions to young women leaders and mothers about HOW to teach Standard’s Night.

May I submit that women need to find avenues to channel their powers, and places to turn to find confidence and self-esteem.  One of those places is in creation.

I read an article several years ago about a young teenage girl who was involved in self-mutilation (cutting).  The mother knew that her daughter loved to do art.  So she took her to an art store and bought her girl some expensive supplies to “keep her hands busy” when she felt the urge to do damage to herself.

Not only does that give the girl an outlet, it helps build the confidence and self-esteem that the girl needs.  Then wise parents and friends will reach out and give her the attention then she is crying out for, but if they don’t she can find it in other ways.

At an early age, I wanted the good opinion of others (I still do at times.  I think that is part of the human package) but I learned that the only way to get the attention and love that my soul craved was through the feelings of the Holy Spirit, telling me that I was unique, special, loved and approved of.

How much more satisfying it is when we receive the praise of God, knowing that it is fully justified and that His love and respect for us will persist, when usually the praise of men is fleeting and most disappointing (President N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign, Nov. 1975, p.76).

So there is power to be found in the act of creation, whether it be creating a healthy body, a work of culture, a work of kindness.  There is power to be found in developing our unique gifts and talents.

But the power that will be the most satisfying is the power that comes when the Soul (meaning the Spirit and Body together) gain strength.  This is what we must teach at Standards Night.  There was a reason that the Savior had the ability to perform his mighty miracles.

Remember the story of the woman that had an issue of blood? For twelve years, she  looked for a cure but was unable to find it.  Then she heard of Jesus and thought within herself – If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

She went through a large group of people and touched the hem of his garment  – And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

That story is miraculous, but our discussion is centered around what comes next – And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that avirtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

His power and strength came from his virtue.  That power went out of Him, and He felt it leave.

The disciples then said to Him, “what are you talking about, look at all of these people that are surrounding you, they’re all touching you.”

But He knew, that an individual in that crowded mass needed His power, healing and His recognition to make herself whole.

When the author of the above article stated “we’re talking about priesthood power, which we qualify as exclusively masculine” she failed to mention Whose Priesthood power the men of the Church hold.  In ancient days, the Priesthood was called  – the aHoly Priesthood, after the bOrder of the Son of God (Doc. & Cov. 107:2-4) and regardless of who administers the power, it belongs to the Savior and it is available to all who have the need of it for strength, healing, love, forgiveness, guidance and power.

This is what we should be teaching at Standard’s Night.  That the way to feel His power when we need it is to reach out and touch Him, even the hem of His garment if that’s all that you can reach.  We should show the girls that the way to reach Him is through preparation, repentance, and by using the WORD of God in our talks and lessons and daily lives.

Then we should teach how to channel our own power as Creative beings and as Spiritual beings.

Let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thycconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews from heaven. Doc & Cov 121:45.
These are things that everyone can do, at any time, regardless of who we are or what we’ve done.  These are things that, if instilled in our young daughters, will raise a generation of women who [refuse] to be objectified and sexualized … [refuse] to be consumers of those things which subtly undermine … divine identity and … moral character.  … The blessings of virtuous women who keep their covenants are so vast and so grand they are almost incomprehensible. (Elaine Dalton, Arise and Shine Forth: A Return to Virtue, April 29, BYU Women’s Conference).

These women would be powerful, because they would know how to gain the Divine power and the respect of God. Then they would be taught by the Holy Ghost.  They would learn to be creators and always feel fulfilled and nourished, with the ability to strengthen and nourish others.