BYU Women’s Conference: Living a moral life by the Spirit

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Janie Penfield Rasmussen and Virginia H. Pearce gave addresses inspired by Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk, “The Moral Force That Is Within You,” at an afternoon session of Women’s Conference on May 1.

Janie Rasmussen calls women to act on their moral influence and rely on the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Photo by Natalie Stoker
Janie Rasmussen calls women to act on their moral influence and rely on the promptings of the Holy Ghost. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

Both speakers recounted personal experiences and “Book of Mormon” stories as they encouraged conference participants to seek out the companionship of the Holy Spirit as they try to live moral lives.

Rasmussen, an associate athletic director for BYU, emphasized the need for women to stand by and speak up for their testimonies.

“The wickedness in the world is increasing, and the gap between the Lord’s way and the world’s way is increasing,” Rasmussen said.

She shared the story of Lehi, a Book of Mormon prophet who led his family away from Jerusalem after receiving revelation that the city would be destroyed because of wickedness. Rasmussen likened Lehi’s faith in following the Lord’s counsel to women today who must move forward in the will of God even when they may not understand his plans fully yet.

“They (Lehi and his family) didn’t know what the Lord’s journey entailed,” Rasmussen said, “but they were on board.”

Rasmussen counseled conference participants to seek out the Holy Spirit and live worthy of its companionship in order to stand up for their testimonies and be able to have faith like Lehi.

“Our personal righteousness determines the Spirit’s ability to witness to us,” Rasmussen said.

When sisters are able to act on the promptings of the Spirit, they will be forces for good who are unashamed of their faith, she said. Instead of feeling like “not being the Mormon in the room,” they will stand firm in their beliefs and seek to find similarities with others who may not share their testimonies, instead of focusing on differences.

“By talking to each other we learn what we have in common,” Rasmussen said. “We need to wear our Y’s, bring our children and be the Mormons in the room.”

Virginia H. Pearce speaks at Women's Conference on May 1, 2014 Photo by Natalie Stoker
Virginia H. Pearce speaks at Women’s Conference on May 1, 2014. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

After Rasmussen’s remarks, Pearce, a former counselor in the Young Women general presidency, spoke on women’s ability to invite the Spirit into their lives by striving to create holy spaces.

Pearce began her talk by explaining the Celtic concept of thin places. She described a thin place as one where there is a deep sense of God’s presence, or where the spiritual world and the natural world intersect.

She spoke about various thin places relevant to conference participants, including the temple, Liberty Jail and the home.

“We want our homes to be thin places where we and all those who enter feel love,” Pearce said.

Pearce recounted an experience after her husband passed away when she stood in her house alone for the first time. She said loneliness threatened to consume her, but a stronger feeling of peace took its place as she realized the sacredness of her home because of the presence of the Spirit.

“Rather than just a lonely, empty house, I had been blessed with a space that was holy; where the door between this world and the next had cracked open,” Pearce said.

She encouraged conference participants to dedicate their homes and look in section 20.11 of the second handbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for information about that process.

Pearce closed her remarks by reminding those in attendance that the Spirit is not limited to residing in physical holy spaces; it can also dwell within those who create them.

“God’s light doesn’t stay in those thin places,” Pearce said. “It flows into our souls, and we assimilate it and take it with us.”

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