History shows us that those who choose consistent, enduring-to-the-end behavior come out stronger, happier, and more powerful than those who show behavior that is more erratic and discontinuous. This choice is demonstrated clearly by the following story about the first expedition to the South Pole.
Roald Amundsen led a team of men using sled dogs. From the very beginning of their 1,400 mile journey he decided that no matter what the weather was like they would set a goal to make 20 miles each and every day. Because of bad weather they sometimes made less than their goal, but they always strove for the goal of 20 miles every day—no matter what.
Robert Falcon Scott led another team of men using packhorses. Because of the horses, they were able to carry more provisions. From the beginning he psyched his men to go hard and push themselves on the good days. When the weather was too harsh, they would rest and prepare to set out hard as soon as they were able.
Guess which team made it to the South Pole first?
You may be surprised to learn that Amundsen’s team won by 34 days. Why? How did he do it?
Scott pushed his team so they became exhausted and no amount of rest was long enough. His packhorses failed in the ferocious weather and had to be shot. Because of exhaustion, team members suffered and died along the way.
Amundsen kept to his steady goal of 20 miles a day no matter what. The team knew what was expected, they worked together to make their goal, or close to it, each day, and even when they could surpass their goal, Amundsen held them back as to not cause exhaustion or over anxiousness. No one died on Amundsen’s team.
How important is it to calibrate our own journey on this earth, to set a goal and stay with it as consistently as we possibly can? Each one of us is subject to pain and suffering, but all of us are expected to endure to the end. By following a leader who watches over us, and consistently urges us to follow the plan, we can make it.
In January 1870, LDS women gathered in the Old Tabernacle building on Temple Square in the middle of a raging snowstorm to show their allegiance to their prophet. At that time, plural marriage was being threatened and these sisters wanted to do their part in the fight for their right to obey the will of the Lord. One woman recorded:
“There is no spot on this wide earth where kindness and affection are more bestowed upon woman, and her rights so sacredly defended as in Utah. We are here to express our love for each other, and to exhibit to the world our devotion to God our Heavenly Father; and to show our willingness to comply with the requirements of the Gospel; and the law of Celestial Marriage is one of its requirements that we are resolved to honor, teach, and practice, which may God grant us strength to do” (Daughters in My Kingdom, p. 47).
Yes, I know polygamy is repugnant to many people nowadays, but the point was clear that these women were determined to follow their prophet, who followed the Lord, at all costs. Today, we must have that same attitude as we make our choice to consistently march to the end of this life without giving up too soon and losing the prize.
As women of faith we must dig in deep to maintain our faith, because we may all be tested to the brink of more than we can stand. Please join with me, and the following examples, to stay the course, remaining steady in your studying and living of the gospel.
Sarah Studevant Leavitt once described sitting in a room amongst friends who were complaining about a recent slight. Sarah was asked her thoughts and she answered, “I [don’t] know or care anything about it, all I cared for was to know and do the will of God.” Her saying this turned the whole mood in the room around and spread throughout the neighborhood. “Instead of taking the name of God in vain they cried to Him for mercy” (Kenneth and Audrey Godfrey, Women’s Voices, p. 29).
Sally Randall witnessed the prophet Joseph being led away to Carthage. She recorded in her journal, “There are many that will rejoice and think Mormonism is down now but they will be mistaken for the Lord has begun his work and he will carry it on in spite of all mobs and devils” (Kenneth and Audrey Godfrey, Women’s Voices, p. 142).
Some visiting teachers never gave up visiting one of their sisters who hadn’t been to church in a long time. She said of them, “I’m grateful to this day for my visiting teachers because they loved me and they didn’t judge me. They really made me feel as though I really was important and that I did have a place in the Church. We need to realize that the Lord loves us no matter who we are, and my visiting teachers helped me see that this was right. Now my husband and I have been sealed in the temple” (Daughters in My Kingdom, p. 117).
A mother in Brazil sacrificed everything to save the money they needed to be sealed in the temple. “Her constant prayer was that the Lord would help her and give her strength and inspiration sufficient to bring up her children in the light, truth, and strength of the gospel so that they would be able to make and keep the covenants she and her husband had sacrificed to provide for them” (Daughters in My Kingdom, p. 165).
Sis. Burton shared an experience where she and her husband were at a gathering when a difficult question was asked of a Church leader. She immediately began praying for that leader to answer best. The Church leader then stood and said:
“Brother, I do not know the answer to your question. But I will tell you what I do know. I know that God is our Eternal Father. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and was the instrument through, which the power of the priesthood was restored to the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is true and contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know we have a living prophet today who speaks for the Lord to bless our lives.” He then continued, “No, I do not know the answer to your question, but these things I know. The rest I take on faith. I try to live this simple statement of faith I learned years ago from Sister Marjorie Hinckley, who said, ‘First I obey then I understand.’” (Linda K. Burton, “Priesthood: A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children,” BYU Women’s Conference, May 2013).
Sisters, don’t let anyone sway your belief. Hold fast to the iron rod and avoid the dark paths lost in the mists. And when we have our struggles—and we will—may we rely on the strength of our testimonies, as well as our sisterhood, to pull us through.
How long must I make this choice? As long as is necessary to win the prize of eternal life and salvation.