May we all unite in a common objective “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” —Edward Dube, “Look Ahead and Believe”
Last year I was blessed to go on a women’s retreat to the mountains and celebrate Mother’s Day a little early with a much needed rejuvenation and rest cure. It was a wonderful time, and I got to know ladies from my neighborhood and church group that I hadn’t known much before. We had an activity where we wrote and passed around the talk “Sisterhood, Oh How We Need Each Other” by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson. We shared with each other the things we were touched by and thought applied to us or we wanted to share with each other. It was a great gift to get our own copy of the talk back after each friend had annotated it for us and see what others had written about it.
One of the things that really stood out to me was the negative judgements–which were false–that had kept me separated from some of the ladies and which kept me from sharing and knowing them on a deeper level. That separation was of the devil and kept me from needful connection and unity that would bless both me and my sisters in the gospel.
Here are some of the things that we learned from the talk while at the retreat:
“There is tremendous strength in our unity.” We must cultivate and nourish that unity to get the strength each of us need. An example was one of the ladies in our church group is always immaculately groomed, hair perfectly curled and colored, always a cute and stylish outfit. I had judged her negatively and decided that because my hair was usually in a ponytail and I hoped the clothes I wore didn’t have any “mommy stains,” that we were just too different and couldn’t be friends. She did something that changed all that. I was asked to replace her in her calling and she came to my house to do a hand off and brought me a special gift to help me feel welcome. That gift has been a symbol of my need for her and the blessing of her friendship and sisterhood and the error of negative judgement based on appearance or other unimportant things.
Sister Oscarson says “To be a sister implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us. Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin.”
This quote also reminds me of a different conference talk we discussed of a sister in Russia who would have friends over. The Spirit spoke to me during that talk and said “You need to have more friends.” I looked and noticed that I had been closing myself off and not getting out for friend time or making new friends. It felt like I had enough people who counted on me and depended on me that I didn’t have room for more. But the Spirit clearly said that was incorrect, and as I stepped out to make new friends, I found that my capacity to care for my family increased. I had new ideas inspired by good friends in caring for my family and home, as well as added energy from the love and support of my sisters.
I appreciate a quote that supports this theme: “The adversary would have us be critical or judgmental of one another. He wants us to concentrate on our differences and compare ourselves to one another.” We need to rejoice in our many different roles and strengths, instead of comparing and judging, as Satan would have us do in order to separate us. We need to rejoice in the successes of our sisters. We need to see their good as our own and see how each one plays a vital role in this important work of salvation, a role that is unique and different from our own.
This reminds me of an embarrassing story that I will share anyway because it illustrates perfectly this problem. When Sheri Dew was first put in as a counselor to the General Relief Society presidency, I had the evil idea that she couldn’t understand me or my needs because I was married and had many children, whereas she was single. I only looked at our differences and decided that she wouldn’t have anything to teach me. Oh, how I have repented of that multiple times! She has been my “mother” and teacher on so many occasions. I love her dearly, and any chance I have to sit at her feet to learn (figuratively, in conferences, books, or recorded library talks), I jump to take because she is an amazing teacher and an inspiring woman.
I was blessed one day to see her entering the temple as I was leaving. I adore her, and she is one of my best friends, although we have never met. So on that day, I impulsively ran up to hug her. She looked at me confused as she doesn’t yet know we are best friends, and she timidly hugged me back. I mumbled something incoherent and lame that meant “You have blessed me more than you can possibly know, and I am so grateful for your friendship. If there is ever anything I can do to repay you in some way, I want to with all my heart.” Then again she taught me. She said, “Happy Valentine’s Day” and went into the temple. I thought how lonely Valentine’s Day must be for her and how sorry I was that I had not had more love to share. Perhaps she had come to the temple for comfort and companionship. How blessed I was to be going home to a houseful of people to share love with! Valentine’s Day had slipped my mind because I had many to share it with, but perhaps she remembered because she was alone and yet she wished me a happy day.
This blog is another example to me of this principle that we need each other and that Satan will try to separate us. Each time I go to write, I second- and third-guess myself and the inspiration I am given to write. I have to overcome much fear and doubt to finally post. The negative messages that it’s not good enough or not going to inspire others are so loud, and I have to work hard to do it anyway.
I have been so blessed by the posts on this blog and so grateful for the good women who are willing to share this journey in sisterhood with me.
I will finish with a last quote from Sister Oscarson: “If there are barriers, it is because we ourselves have created them. We must stop concentrating on our differences and look for what we have in common, then we can begin to realize our greatest potential and achieve the greatest good in this world.”