Women leaders motivate, inspire in historic Sister to Sister event

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Women leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints answered questions from Church members around the world in the first ever Sister to Sister event hosted by BYU Women’s Conference.

The event was similar to Face to Face events the Church began in 2014 for youth and young adults. Sheri L. Dew moderated the event, and Sister Joy D. Jones, Sister Jean B. Bingham and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon answered questions. According to Dew, Church members submitted more than 5,000 questions in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

“I hope you brought your jammies and an extra mint brownie. We’re gonna answer all of them,” Dew said, followed by a roar of laughter. “Maybe not. We wish we could.”

A lighthearted spirit and laughter continued throughout the event, which took place in what Sister Cordon, the Young Women general president, called the “big living room” of the Marriott Center.

One question leaders addressed came from a young mother who said she felt tired and overwhelmed with the world’s expectations and pressures. She asked, “How do we deal with the overwhelming concern that we are never enough?”

The three leaders encouraged the mother — and all who feel overwhelmed and discouraged — to prioritize the most important responsibilities and rely on the Lord.

“It’s easy for us to fall into comparison, to feel we’re not enough — that we’re not giving enough, doing enough, being enough — when in reality, through our Savior, we are enough,” said Sister Jones, the Primary general president.

Sister Cordon added that when she feels overwhelmed, she drops to her knees in prayer to God.

“I ask the Lord, ‘Tell me again you love me. I need to know,’” she said. “As soon as I feel that extra dose of love — sometimes I just need that extra dose — I know I can do it. It’s OK. It may look messy, and I’ll still have the trials and tribulations, but we know that we won’t stumble.”

Another question came from a woman seeking to have greater unity with priesthood leaders, especially when some of these leaders can seem dismissive in their interaction. Each president related to this experience and encouraged those in a similar position to seek understanding and do what Jesus Christ would do.

Sister Bingham, the Relief Society general president, shared her experience with one Priesthood leader who would leave her “seething” after meetings.

“I would be driving home for that 30 minutes just getting angrier and angrier, and I’d come home and I’d slam my purse down on the counter, and my husband would just say, ‘Oh, another purse-slammer meeting, eh?’” Sister Bingham said, laughing.

Sister Bingham said she learned if she prayed for this leader and strived to understand him, they worked much better together. She encouraged Church members to approach such situations with love.

“‘Charity never faileth’ — I know that’s something that we say all the time — but truly, true love never fails,” Sister Bingham said. “True love is irresistible.”

The women also counseled Church members on how to approach doubts and struggles with faith, especially those regarding Church history or policy. All agreed asking questions is important, but emphasized doing so with both faith and the Spirit.

Sister Bingham said it’s important for Church members to focus on what they already know and approach their doubts from a stance of faith.

“I think there are some questions that will not have answers right now and right today, but I have to be faithful enough that I can put that on the shelf and let it rest until I can find that answer,” Sister Bingham said. “I trust my Heavenly Father that He loves me enough to help me move forward despite that challenge that I don’t have an answer for right now.”

Sister Jones said it’s essential to keep close to the Spirit and stay close to God during the process of asking questions.

“Feeling Heavenly Father’s love is so important because there are so many things today in the world that would tear down that feeling of who we are and how much we are loved and how patiently He watches over us,” Sister Jones said.

Lauren Manzione attended the event with her mother, Marie Hendriksen. Manzione said she’s in a transition period in her life and the event was both encouraging and motivating.

“We don’t need worry about (all the little details) all the time if we just are doing the very basic things that we need to do,” Manzione said. “I need to show compassion to myself as well as to others as I’m trying to navigate through the complexities of our lives.”

Hendriksen said the leaders answered many of the questions she had before the event. She also added how much she enjoyed seeing the interaction between the leaders.

Sister Cordon told a story about how she was called to the Primary general presidency with Sister Jones and Sister Bingham, who were already good friends at the time.

She spoke about how welcome she felt in the presidency despite being an “outsider,” relating one story about when Sister Bingham brought her hard-boiled eggs to her hotel room because, in Sister Bingham’s words, Sister Cordon is a “protein freak.” Sister Cordon even pulled a bag of hard-boiled eggs from her bag to give to Sister Bingham to return the favor.

“It was just fun to see the interaction between the sisters because it felt so real,” Hendriksen said. “It was so real what they were telling us and the stories they told personally were very touching to me.”

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