General Women’s Meeting Highlights: Joy D. Jones

Woman hugging her daughterRecognizing my own worth has never been easy for me, and I guarantee I’m not alone in the struggle. Why is this such a difficult battle for women? We learn in our homes and at Church from a very young age that we are children of God. We are taught the Plan of Salvation. Our Young Women study Divine Nature and Individual Worth. And, yet, strong self-esteem eludes many women and girls. Why?

I think we can lay the vast majority of the blame right at Satan’s feet. He wants to render us ineffective in our eternal mission and this is a winning strategy. If he can succeed in making us question our individual worth, then we are likely to become shy wallflowers in the dance of mortality. I know that in my own life, this is probably the single most prominent way that Satan tries to throw me off my game. I am constantly tempted to think that I’m not good enough for a particular task, or that someone is always better or more talented than I. And herein lies the problem – so many of us base our worth on what the world thinks is important. We rate ourselves in various categories like financial success, beauty, talents, or how exciting our life is compared to what we see from others on social media.

None of that is relevant. None of that determines our worth. It only serves as a distraction from what we should be focused on, which is how our Heavenly Father sees us.

Sister Joy D. JonesSister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, addressed the topic of our individual worth in her address at the recent General Women’s Session. She had this to say about recognizing who we are: “While it is often easier to be spiritually passive than it is to put forth the spiritual effort to remember and embrace our divine identity, we cannot afford that indulgence in these latter days.”

It does take effort to know and understand our divine nature and identity. After all, as Sister Jones went on to say, “Satan is the father of all lies, especially when it comes to misrepresentations about our own divine nature and purpose.” Overcoming his craftiness and negative influence takes time and energy but it is worth the effort.

Once we know and embrace our role as daughters of God, it will lead us to action. We will understand that Heavenly Father knew us before we came to this earth and He sent us here at this time for a specific purpose. He needs us to know that we have a job to do in building the Kingdom of God in the latter days. We have a part to play in preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior. We have so much to do, and it doesn’t matter how we see ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we can’t think of a single talent we have to contribute to the effort. All the Father needs is a willing heart ready to serve and He will enlarge our capacity beyond anything we thought we were capable of. We are partners with the God of Heaven in fulfilling an eternal mission. That is why we cannot be spiritually passive. We are needed right now and embracing our divine identity will keep us focused and devoted to the Father’s work.

Sister Jones taught: “If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives. He saves us from ourselves.” As with everything in life, we have a choice to make. If we focus on the Savior and draw near unto Him, then He will help us overcome all things. However, if we focus on doubting ourselves and our divine worth, we will slowly inch away from Him and His ability to save. I love Sister Jones’ counsel to cling to the Savior, for clinging to Him and the enabling power of the Atonement is the only way to reach our full divine potential. We simply can’t do it without Him.

Sister Jones made this promise in her address: “Truly knowing that you are a daughter of God will affect every aspect of your life and guide you in the service you render each day.” I can think of no greater gift than to be guided each day as I strive to serve my Father in Heaven and do His will. Every aspect of our lives will be better if we only remember who we are and who we are trying to become, and then go to work to achieve our divine potential.

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7 thoughts on “General Women’s Meeting Highlights: Joy D. Jones

  1. Lily

    As a never-married, childless women, nothing has hurt my self esteem more than being told motherhood is the most important work we can do. How come, in the list of things that we beat ourselves up over, family-status and number of children isn’t mentioned as something we shouldn’t look to for our worth? The overemphasis on marriage and motherhood is very damaging to righteous women who don’t have these blessings.

    1. Stephanie Gifford Post author

      Lily – thank you for your comment. You’re absolutely right – marital and motherhood status is something many women struggle with. Though I happened to leave that out of this article, it certainly qualifies. While it is an undeniable truth that eternal marriage and rearing children are an essential part of the Plan of Salvation, it’s also important to remember that our worthiness for these blessings is the most important factor. They may not come in this lifetime, but they will come to all worthy, covenant-keeping sons and daughters of God. I know what it’s like to long for a particular blessing that seems to come so easily for others. I know having faith in the Lord’s timing can be so hard to maintain. But I also know that we are each of infinite worth to our Father in Heaven, simply because we are His children. I’m sorry that this issue has been a source of pain for you. I truly hope you can find reassurance in the teaching that the blessing of an eternal family will eventually come to all who are worthy! Much love, Stephanie

      1. Lily

        I appreciate your kind words, but I am not really talking about the pain of not having children or being married. I am talking about the way the Church ranks women and those that don’t fit these roles are second-class. Please don’t tell me they are not. For example, “The Lord holds mothers in the highest esteem.” Spencer Kimball said that. That’s a ranking. If someone is held in the HIGHEST esteem that means someone is held in the lower esteem. This philosophy pervades the Church and its members. I’m responding to the question of why we feel bad about ourselves if we are children of God. The reason is that some of us are told, because of our life circumstances, we are simply not as important as other people.

    2. A.

      Lily, I saw your comment and wanted to respond because I can certainly empathize with your personal situation. I, too, have never been able to have children and won’t in this life. And yet no one has ideal circumstances and we all will experience unmet hopes and dreams. It has been painful. I won’t deny that. I think focusing on our pain and injustice can harm more than heal. I also know that the doctrine of motherhood is *not* damaging. It may be painful to hear when we’re not able to experience it, but I have to push back on the premise that it is damaging. Being mothers and co-creators with our Father in Heaven is the most important thing a man or woman will ever do in this life. I don’t think that Heavenly Father is being cruel when he temporarily withholds certain blessings from righteous women 🙂 He has a plan for our lives and we can trust in Him and His timetable—even when it doesn’t match up with what we thought it should be. It has brought me to my knees countless times over the past twenty years and I can say that finding joy, serving and filling my heart with love and not looking at it as injustice has really helped me overcome the icy feelings of “otherness” that I had previously felt. I guess, in short, doctrine and truth doesn’t change because of our feelings or personal circumstances. We should speak about it with sensitivity, but can never stop teaching truth and testifying of marriage and family. I don’t think Heavenly Father wants that for His children.

      http://www.mormonwomenstand.com/topics/emotional-pain-lds-women/

      I love what Sister Oscarson said in General Conference about our unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes:

      “I worry that we live in such an atmosphere of avoiding offense that we sometimes altogether avoid teaching correct principles. We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don’t want to offend those who aren’t married or those who can’t have children, or to be seen as stifling future choices. On the other hand, we may also fail to emphasize the importance of education because we don’t want to send the message that it is more important than marriage. We avoid declaring that our Heavenly Father defines marriage as being between a man and woman because we don’t want to offend those who experience same-sex attraction. And we may find it uncomfortable to discuss gender issues or healthy sexuality.

      Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching [it].”

      https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/rise-up-in-strength-sisters-in-zion?lang=eng

      1. Lily

        It’s damaging to be told your life is less meaningful and you are second class because of circumstances you can’t control. Also, I would say being a mother is NOT the most important thing. Being a disciple of Christ is.

  2. Jelaire Richardson

    Hi Lily! I think one solution is to not view the statements like President Kimball’s as distinctions between classes of women. He and the other Brethren are distinguishing between worthy goals, not classes. They are saying, that of all the worthy goals, motherhood is the best goal. So as long as motherhood is a goal of ours, whether or not we attain it now or after this life doesn’t matter. This interpretation makes much more doctrinal sense than the “class” interpretation.

    In fact, I see it as an act of mercy that God only constantly emphasizes the things that *all* righteous women are promised (like motherhood), instead of emphasizing things that only *some* righteous women will get. You are not a “second class woman” in God’s eyes, or in the prophet’s eyes. If your goals are worthy, then God will fulfill his promise of motherhood to you.

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