Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, joined President Kevin J Worthen in addressing women about ways to “return home” at a Thursday afternoon session of Women’s Conference in the Marriott Center.
Sister Stephens began by relaying a story of a recent trip she and her husband took to Arches National Park.
After deciding to hike a more difficult trail, Sister Stephens said that she soon became anxious and stopped to remind herself to “breathe in faith, let go of fear”.
“The trail was marked by an occasional stack of rocks. We watched carefully for these markers. They set our course and guided us along the path. Some places on the path were difficult. But there was always a reward after the struggle,” Stephens said.
She then spoke of three markers along the path of mortal life that direct people in the way that leads safely back to God.
The first two markers of which she spoke were covenants and prophets. Stevens explained how promises made with God act as markers along the path, while prophets provide direction in a confusing world.
“Do we seek for truth while googling ‘great and spacious building’, or do we turn to the word of the Lord given by His special witnesses?” Stephens asked.
The third, and final, marker she mentioned was Jesus Christ. It is through Him, she explained, that the path home is even available. She invited the women to reflect on the path they were walking, and to look for the markers that would lead the way.
President Worthen then added what he felt was another important aspect of returning ‘home’ safely.
“Counseling, I believe, is a skill set that is essential to eternal life in the plan of salvation,” he said. “The term counsel is both a verb and a noun… thus counseling entails both giving and taking advice and it connotes an interchange of ideas.”
President Worthen continued by explaining that while God is the counselor in our lives, members also have the responsibility and opportunity to give and get counsel from others.
He then recalled a story told to him by a friend, and member of the Seventy, who had once entertained President Hinckley in his home. At the end of the day, they gathered for family prayer and his friend asked one of the children to pray.
Per usual, the child included in his prayer a plea to bless President Hinckley. When the prayer was finished, Sister Hinckley spoke up and jokingly said, “Everyone always prays for Gordon, but no one prays for me.”
Everyone laughed, and so did Sister Hinckley, but afterwards, in a more serious tone, she added, “I’m serious, I’m the only person in the world who can tell Gordon certain things and I need all the help I can get.”
Women have the extraordinary ability and responsibility to give that wise and timely counsel, according to President Worthen.
Eventually, to find the way back to their heavenly home, not only must the women of the church look for the markers on the path and receive counsel for themselves, but they must reach out to those who need their counsel and direction.