Women, Do We Realize Who We Are?
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend my church's world-wide Women's Conference (which you can find here). My heart burned inside as I listened to the messages that women need so badly today! It confirmed feelings I had all week that I needed to focus today's Monday Message on the power of women.
In so many ways, big and small, women chart the direction of the world. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at these facts:
Did you know that women control 70% of global consumer spending? Women decide where the money goes, and determine which products, brands, goods and services make it and which ones don't. Women earn more associates, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees then men. Women are natural networkers, and connect and share what they learn and experience. Women run 60% of micro-enterprises, and female farmers produce 60-80% of the food in developing countries. In global peacekeeping efforts, educating women can prevent violent conflict and violent extremism. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Women have great power in shaping the world.
Whether we recognize it or not, what we value individually as women not only affects ourselves, but teaches the next generation what they should value too. At the conference this weekend Neill F. Marriott said it this way,
“You carry a circle of influence with you wherever you go. It is felt by the people around you, from your family to the contacts in your cell phone and…your friends on social media.”
If our influence on the world is so huge, what are we individually doing with it? Put another way, if your friends, children, spouse, co-workers, “followers” or “friends” in your own circle of influence were asked what you value based on your words, actions and posts, what do you think they would say?
As I was thinking about this post, I couldn't get an image of a lighthouse out of my mind. Women are the lighthouses for the world. And right now, there are so many ships at sea that don't know which way to go, and are looking for a light to help show them the way! They want to know where happiness can be found. They want to avoid the pain that comes when we make poor decisions.
By our life and actions we can be a light to help those in our own circles avoid the rocks that would sink their ships, like: the whirlpool of comparison, getting caught up and obsessing over outward appearance while neglecting what's inside (thigh gaps, dress sizes, manicure colors and filled-in eyebrows are not going to move the needle in bringing us closer to God!), or thinking that what the world says about leadership matters more than Christ's way of leading (what is your title rather than how are you serving). These are traps that can get each one of us down, and as women we must literally shine light on these issues by the way we act and live. We must show the world that happiness does not come from appearance, possessions, or prestige; happiness can only be found in our relationships with God and those around us. Again from this weekend’s conference,
“We have a choice. On the one hand there’s the opinion of the world, with its ever changing theories and questionable motives. On the other hand, there is God’s words to His children, His eternal wisdom, His certain promises, and His loving instructions for returning to His presence in glory, love and majesty. The choice is yours.”
If we don't use our influence and examples to teach truth, these false messages will sink ourselves, our children, our spouses, and our loved ones.
We also can't forget that a lighthouse only has worth as long as it stays lit. In order to help others we must "glow ourselves", which can happen only when we plug into the source! Again from this weekend,
“That which is of God is light....We must go to the source of light, which is Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the scriptures.”
Plugging into the source of light means that we have our own relationship with God and the Savior, we study the scriptures—asking the tough questions and diligently seeking answers, and that we are trying to be worthy of the spirit so we can decipher whether the messages that we're seeing, hearing, and passing on are from the world or from God.
In saying this I hope I haven’t made it sound like choosing God’s way is heavy, intense, or depressing—this couldn't be further from the truth! I'm always the happiest when I chose Him! Again from this weekend,
"Walking in the path of discipleship does not need to be a bitter experience. It is not a burden that weighs us down. Discipleship lifts our spirits and lightens our hearts. It inspires us with faith, hope, and charity. It fills our spirits with light in times of darkness and serenity during times of sorrow. It gives us divine power and lasting joy.”
In my life I've seen this so clearly; I am never happier than when I am actively seeking to turn my life over to God. It’s almost as if the world is a different place—I'm a quicker learner and more creative, I see God's hand in my life, I find more humor in the little things and patience in the big things, I am more sensitive in how I treat others, and my relationships are deeper and more meaningful. In short my life is full.
The joy that is found in following God's way is the message that we must take to the world. We will change the world for good only when we show by our lives that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the path to make us truly happy and free.
Please know that you have a friend in me as we try to stand for God, and though I’m not doing it perfectly, we’re in this together with some of the most incredible women I've ever met. If we each do our part, we really can change the world.