Saturday, November 21, 2009
H is for Honesty
Today I had the opportunity to go to a regional women's conference to hear Sister Beck talk. The format was different than other conferences. Rather than just talking for a while, she invited sisters in the congregation to ask questions. The reason I put honesty as the idea behind this post was that the answers she gave were your typical church answers to things but in a wonderfully blunt and honest fashion. I felt inspired, but also refreshed, as though the cobwebs that build up around the normal "Sunday School" answers were swept away.
Two of the questions, or rather her responses, struck me. The first was when a sister asked (paraphrasing) , "The men have been told to avoid pornography, the Young Men to prepare for missions, and so on, what specific thing should women be doing?" Sister Beck then quoted president Monson, when he gave a warning to all, young and old, men and women, about pornography. She went on to say that pornography is everyone's problem. And if you think that as a woman you have no personal temptation you still have a responsibility in your home. She phrased it as a war, and women as the chief defenders of the home. She suggested, "Ask your husband, 'When was the last time you saw pornography?' ask your teenagers". This should be as routine as asking "When did you mow the lawn?" Find out what is happening in your home. Don't let ignorance be your excuse, you have no reason to not know. Use the filters, be careful what is on your television, be aware of what can be done with cell phones.
As a call to action it was unequivocal and stirring. It also left no room for denial or avoidance.
The second time she was so blunt was when a sister asked the well meaning question of can we really raise righteous children in such a wicked world? And while Sister Beck sympathized with the honest frustration and longing this sister expressed, she also very boldly proclaimed, "You can do it, you must do it. You chose to do this and you can."
She then went on to point out that there are a lot of famous women in the world, who even have a portion of truth, but most of them preach a message that as women we deserve a break, something special, a treat just our own. Then this statement that hit me square between the eyes, "You are not owed anything. I hope you don't take that badly." We have been given the Atonement, life, the gospel, our families; everything we have. No one owes us a thing. Whenever we feel that we are picked on or someone should give us something, we are not being influenced by the Holy Spirit.
She didn't mean we should work until we drop. She had talked earlier about taking care of ourselves. When we are so tired we can't feel the Spirit we are alone and cannot do what we are capable of. But the attitude difference of "I am owed this chocolate, vacation, nap, etc" versus "I have worked and now I can take a break" is enormous. I am extremely guilty of this type of thinking and I need to get a handle on it. I think it will make a huge improvement in what I can accomplish if I can avoid looking for what I "deserve" after doing anything.
She commented to the few young women that were there that YW is preparatory to RS. The main difference being that in YW every good thing you do counts toward something, service hours, your medallion, etc. There are always leaders there ready to give you applause for the good works you do. When you get to RS, you are just expected to do those things, and no one counts how many times you've done it, no one marks a chart or announces it in Sacrament Meeting. But you are loved, and that has to be enough.
So I am grateful for her honesty. Sometimes the polite version isn't strong enough to get through the wall of justification we build around ourselves. I hope by writing this down I can get it firmly enough in my mind to be better and change. I am thankful for the opportunity to hear one of God's chosen servants speak and for His spirit to tell me what I need to do.