Women crowded the Marriott Center this morning to listen to General Relief Society President Sister Linda K. Burton as she opened the Friday session of Women’s Conference.
Sister Burton began her talk with an anecdote about her eight-year old granddaughter, Eliza, who had recently got an infection in her femur.
Sister Burton described how her granddaughter’s courage, “would only last as long as the nurse was present. But as soon as she was alone with [her mom], she could express honestly and openly how she truly felt.”
She tied her story in with the thought of having similar feelings when we will see our Father in Heaven.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if each of us in that moment when we finally have the opportunity to see Him, will similarly melt into tears, in His loving arms, having endured mortal challenges of this world as courageously as we could,” she said.
Sister Burton explained how in the New Testament, Jesus said the two great commandments are, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart … soul … and with all thy mind,” and that, “… the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
She instructed the audience on how they can increase their love for Heavenly Father by looking at Him as if He were our own earthly parents.
Sister Burton shared how husbands and fathers can serve as types of Heavenly Father “if we have ‘eyes to see and ears to hear.'”
Sister Burton shared experiences with her own father and husband by sharing examples of their kindness during her address, tying them in with the kindness Heavenly Father has for His children.
“The older I get, the more I am convinced that parenthood is a key to understanding Heavenly Father’s love for us,” she said.
Sister Burton invited the women to remind themselves that Heavenly Father is a loving Heavenly Father, and that their mortal challenges are an opportunity to grow closer to Him, while He will grow closer too.
“If we really want to get to know and love our Heavenly Father, we need look no further than the life of His Only Begotten and perfect Son, Jesus Christ,” she said.
Sister Burton also shared an experience when she was on a mission and feeling particularly distanced from Heavenly Father.
Her husband, a mission president at the time, encouraged the missionaries to read the Book of Mormon again. He told the missionaries to underline every reference to Jesus Christ — ranging from His words, attributes, names, titles, and doctrine.
“I accepted this challenge and found it to be life changing,” she said. “Doing so drew me closer to my Heavenly Father and assured me of His love — as manifested in the life, attributes, and teachings of His Beloved Son.”
Sister Burton also shared why it is important for us to know, love, and trust in Heavenly Father. “God’s life is family life,” she said. “We are His children.” She explained how putting God first will not only strengthen our relationship with Him, but will also help with determining our priorities.
She continued by noting that loving the Lord will give us better judgement on how to organize our priorities.
One of these priorities is loving your neighbor, explained Burton as she brought up the second commandment. Our “neighbors” are within the walls of our homes, our extended families, ward and community families, according to the General Relief Society President.
Sister Burton elaborated on how visiting teaching is more than just seeing the sisters as friends, but to see them as our own sisters. When Relief Society sisters help each other, they show their devotion to Heavenly Father and prepare for blessings of eternal life, according to Sister Burton.
Sister Burton also shared her gratitude for the sisters that have prayed for opportunities to exhibit service and charity, especially after the call to help the 60 million refugees throughout the world.
“If we are to choose one attribute … to become most like our Heavenly Father, it would surely be charity,” she said.