President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed Latter-day Saint women across the world during the Fall 2011 General Relief Society Meeting, counseling them in five important areas, including not to worry about perfection but to be as compassionate with themselves as they are with others.
All members of the Relief Society General Presidency, including President Julie B. Beck, also spoke to those gathered in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday and many more around the world watching the broadcast.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
President Uchtdorf highlighted five things sisters should never forget in his talk, “Forget Me Not.”
“Tonight I would like to use this little flower as a metaphor,” he said. “The five petals of the little forget-me-not flower prompt me to consider five things we would be wise to never forget.”
First, President Uchtdorf counseled sisters to not forget to be patient with themselves.
“I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way — God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect,” he said. “Let me add — God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.”
President Uchtdorf cautioned sisters to not spend time and energy comparing themselves to others.
“Everyone has strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “It’s wonderful that you have strengths. It’s part of your mortal experience that you have weaknesses.”
President Uchtdorf said perfection is a long-term goal.
“It’s OK that you’re not quite there yet,” he said. “Keep working, but stop punishing yourself. Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate with yourself.”
President Uchtdorf counseled women to be thankful for the small successes in their families, education, livelihood and church participation.
“Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem small to you, and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they aren’t small to him,” he said.
Second, President Uchtdorf asked sisters to not forget the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice.
“An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth,” he said.
President Uchtdorf said members can discern the difference between a foolish and a good sacrifice by asking themselves if they are committing time and energy to the things that matter most.
“Our Heavenly Father is most pleased when we sacrifice something good for something far greater, in an eternal perspective,” he said. “Sometimes, that may even mean nurturing small but beautiful forget-me-not flowers instead of a large garden of exotic blooms.”
Third, President Uchtdorf told sisters to not forget to be happy now. He told of the children’s story, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and how the candy bar itself became an utter disappointment to those who didn’t find a golden ticket.
“So many people today are waiting for their own golden ticket — the ticket that they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed about,” he said. “For some the golden ticket may be a perfect marriage — for others, a magazine-cover home, or perhaps freedom from stress or worry.”
President Uchtdorf said there is nothing wrong with righteous yearning.
“The problem comes when we put our happiness on hold as we wait for some future event — our golden ticket — to appear,” he said.
Fourth, he counseled sisters to not forget the “why” of the gospel. He said in effort to fulfill duties taken on as members of the Church, members sometimes see the gospel as a long “to do” list.
“My dear sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not an obligation — it is a pathway, marked by our loving Father, leading to happiness and peace in this life and glory and inexpressible fulfillment in the life to come,” he said.
Fifth, President Uchtdorf told sisters to not forget the Lord’s love.
He told of his childhood when he once wondered if he would be forgotten by his family or by his Heavenly Father. Looking back on that experience, President Uchtdorf said he knows he was never left alone and was never forgotten.
“And I know something else,” he said. “As an Apostle of our Master, Jesus Christ, I proclaim with all the certainty and conviction of my heart — neither are you. You are not forgotten.”
President Uchtdorf told sisters that no matter how insignificant they may feel at times, Heavenly Father has not forgotten them.
“Just think of it — you are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious being in the universe,” he said. “You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time. He who created and knows the stars, knows you and your name — you are the daughters of his kingdom.”
In closing, President Uchtdorf counseled sisters to increase in faith and personal righteousness and to remember the tiny blue flower.
“Sisters, there is something inspiring and sublime about the little forget-me-not flower,” he said. “I hope it will be a symbol of the little things that make your lives joyful and sweet. Never forget that you must be patient and compassionate with yourselves, that some sacrifices are better than others, that you need not wait for a golden ticket to be happy. Please never forget the ‘why’ of the gospel of Jesus Christ will inspire and uplift you. And never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves and cherishes you.”
Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President
In her talk, Sister Beck spoke on what she hopes her granddaughters will someday understand about Relief Society. She explained that Relief Society is organized after a pattern of discipleship that existed in the Church in ancient times, intimately connected to the priesthood, the refuge and influence of a worldwide sisterhood, and a discipleship of watchcare and ministering.
“I hope what I say in this message will give them and all who hear or read it a clear understanding of what the Lord had in mind for his daughters when Relief Society was organized,” she said.
Sister Beck spoke of valiant women like Martha and Mary from the New Testament and Emma Smith.
“I hope my granddaughters will understand that from the day the gospel began to be restored in this dispensation, the Lord has needed faithful women to participate as his disciples,” she said.
Sister Beck said that the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the women of the Church after the pattern of the priesthood.
“Being organized under the priesthood made it possible for the presidency to receive direction from the Lord and his prophet for a specific work,” she said. “And the organization of Relief Society enabled the Lord’s storehouse of talent, time and means to be administered in wisdom and order.”
Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters value the temple as did the sisters of the first Relief Society.
“I am grateful that one of the Lord’s primary purposes in organizing the Relief Society was to give the women the responsibility to help each other prepare for the greater blessings of the priesthood found in the ordinances and covenants of the temple,” she said.
Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters will understand the important influence and capacity of the great worldwide sisterhood of Relief Society.
“Since 1842, the Church has spread well beyond Nauvoo, and Relief Society is now found in over 170 countries, where sisters speak over 80 languages,” she said. “Every week, new wards and branches are organized, and new Relief Societies become part of an ever-expanding sisterhood spread across the continents.”
Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters will understand that Relief Society can provide a place of safety, refuge and protection.
“As our times become ever more difficult, the faithful sisters of Relief Society will help protect the homes of Zion from the shrill voices of the world and the predatory and provocative influence of the adversary,” she said.
Sister Beck said she hopes her granddaughters will understand that visiting teaching is an expression of their discipleship.
“This element of our discipleship can closely resemble the ministry of our Savior,” she said.
Sister Beck said throughout the years, Relief Society sisters have learned one step at a time and have improved their ability to watch over others.
“With so much need for relief and rescue in the lives of sisters and their families today, our Heavenly Father needs us to follow a higher path and demonstrate our discipleship by sincerely caring for his children,” she said.
Sister Beck said sisters should concentrate on caring about others rather than completing a list.
“True ministry is measured more by the depth of our charity than by the perfection of our statistics,” she said.
Sister Beck closed by encouraging sisters to study the new Church book, “Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society.”
“It will unify and align a worldwide sisterhood with the purposes of Relief Society and the patterns and privileges of disciples,” she said. “It is a witness of the importance of women’s roles in our Father’s plan of happiness and it provides an immovable standard of what we believe, what we do and what we will defend.”
Sister Silvia H. Allred, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Sister Allred spoke on the importance of charity.
She began by quoting the teachings of the Prophet Paul and described the qualities embodied in charity that are essential to the message of Relief Society.
“The scriptural declaration ‘charity never faileth’ became the motto of Relief Society because it embraces these teachings and the charge that the Prophet Joseph Smith had given the Relief Society sisters to relieve the poor and to save souls,” she said.
Sister Allred then asked, what is charity and how do we obtain it?
“The Prophet Mormon defines charity as the pure love of Christ, while Paul teaches that ‘charity is the bond of perfectness’ and Nephi reminds us that ‘the Lord God has given a commandment that all men should have charity which charity is love.'”
She said that charity is a divine gift that is essential to inheriting the celestial kingdom.
“In reviewing Paul’s previous description of charity, we learn that charity is not a single act or something we give away, but a state of being, a state of the heart, kind feelings that engender loving actions,” she said.
Sister Allred said in order to develop charity, members must have the desire to increase in love, pray with all energy of heart and read the scriptures daily. Doing these things will cultivate a Christ-like character.
“The Savior is the perfect example of how to extend charity,” she said. “During his mortal ministry he showed compassion for the hungry, for the sinner, for the afflicted and for the sick. He ministered to the poor and to the rich; to women, children, and men; to family, friends, and strangers. He forgave his accusers and he suffered and died for all mankind.”
She said Relief Society provides countless ways for sister to show charity by serving others.
“Through effective visiting teaching we have many opportunities to love, minister and serve others,” she said. “Expressing charity, or love, purifies and sanctifies our souls, helping us become more like the Savior.”
Sister Allred closed her talk by reminding sisters that charity is a blessing to all.
“All women in Relief Society can be filled with love knowing that their small acts of charity have a healing power for others and for themselves,” she said. “They come to know with certainty that charity is the pure love of Christ and never faileth.”
Sister Barbara Thompson, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Sister Thompson spoke on the importance of cleaving to covenants and the joy and protection that come from keeping them.
“In the phrase ‘cleave unto covenants,’ the word ‘cleave’ means to adhere firmly and closely to something,” she said.
Sister Thompson counseled sisters to adhere to baptismal and temple covenants and said that if they do so, they will be uplifted and protected in their times of need.
“Our covenants sustain us whether in good times or in difficult times,” she said.
Sister Thompson said great blessings, such as protection and joy, come to those who honor the covenants they have made with the Lord.
“Making and keeping sacred covenants enables us to have the Holy Spirit with us,” she said. “This is the spirit that ‘shall fill your soul with joy.'”
She spoke of a dedicated LDS couple from Ukraine who endured a 27-hour bus ride, each way, to attend their nearest temple in Freiberg, Germany.
“They were thrilled that the Kiev Ukraine temple would soon be completed and they would be able to attend much more often,” she said. “That temple is now open and thousands enjoy the blessings there.”
Sister Thompson said in reading her grandmother’s personal history, she learned of the great joy she had in her covenants.
“When people sift through our possessions after we have died, will they find evidence that we have kept our covenants?” she asked.
Sister Thompson closed her remarks by reminding sisters to lift up their hearts and rejoice and to cleave unto the covenants they have made.
“This is comfort and peace,” she said. “This is protection from the evils of the world. Keeping our covenants will help us in times of trial.”