The recently reorganized General Relief Society Presidency spoke together for the first time at the 2017 BYU Women’s Conference. Each shared experiences and insights on The Relief Society.
A Place of Peace
Second counselor sister Reyna I. Aburto said that Relief Society is a safe and welcoming place where she has felt the love and blessings of God.
After she made the painful decision to divorce her first husband, a missionary couple invited sister Aburto and her family to church.
“As I stepped into that church meetinghouse, a warm feeling embraced me. I knew I was in a safe place, I knew that I could find peace in there and that ‘something extraordinary’ was going to happen in my life,” said sister Aburto. “I had found something that I did not know I had been missing.”
Her first day at church was inspiring, and she felt that it all must be a dream because the speakers seemed to be talking just to her. She felt love, comfort and peace.
“It was a never-ending flow of tender mercies from heaven that came to me through the faithful members of that small branch, who taught me so much with their example and the joyful way they lived the gospel,” said sister Aburto.
She was excited to be a part of Relief Society. Many sisters helped her through her transition into the church as a whole and into various callings and assignments.
“They taught me how to transition from being a recent convert to becoming ‘converted unto the Lord.’” said sister Aburto. “They literally took my hand and showed me the way.”
First counselor sister Sharon Eubank described herself as “un-Relief Society,” describing her fears and anxiety upon being called to serve in the general presidency.
When President Henry B. Eyring extended the call to be in the General Relief Society Presidency, sister Eubank was happy to accept, but also sad she would not be able to continue humanitarian work as director of LDS Charities. Until President Eyring explained she was to assume both roles.
“I’m pretty sure he spoke for ten minutes after that, but I have no idea,” said sister Eubank, explaining her shock at the dual responsibilities. “How am I going to do that?”
Despite the reassurance she felt from knowing sister Bingham and sister Aburto, sister Eubank felt unqualified for her calling. She was afraid that she wouldn’t fit in with Relief Society and feared stretching herself too thin between her many responsibilities, and she was already really tired.
She came across a note, scribbled on an old tithing receipt, from a meeting she had been with sister Julie B. Beck. The comfort to her problems was in this note. Her notes advised her to lift people, to not push aside her family and to let the Holy Ghost help her when she felt she had given her all.
“I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to quote the handbook and memorize the presidents from Emma Smith to Linda Burton and dress up in pearls every day and make my voice sound reverent,” said sister Eubank. “My job in Relief Society is simply: build others, lift others.”
Sister Eubank felt the Lord’s concern for her as these concerns were answered. She testified that answers will come from God to others as well.
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, reminded sisters of their value and capacity to influence others.
Sister Bingham felt average growing up – she was never asked to prom, was not the president of anything and never played sports. She said many women have felt ordinary, like she has.
Despite her “ordinariness,” sister Bingham said God saw her value and helped her to develop “gifts and graces” to help her reach her full potential.
“Know that your Heavenly Father will provide all that you need to become ‘extra’-ordinary as a daughter of God,” said sister Bingham. “Each of His daughters has been taught and prepared and gifted premortally with marvelous potential to become a queen in the celestial kingdom.”
Every sister, no matter her circumstance, can be a powerful influence for good. Living with integrity, being kind in word and action and demonstrating moral standards are simple ways to influence others, said sister Bingham.
“That choice to become a disciple of Christ gives us the opportunity to wield a more-than-might-be-expected influence on those around us,” said sister Bingham.
Sister Bingham referenced President James E. Faust who said that it is important to find your true identity.
“You will know who you are. This will make you free – not free from restraints, but free from doubts, anxieties or peer pressure,” said President Faust. “A conviction that you are a daughter of God gives you a feeling of comfort in your self-worth.”
Throughout her experiences in Relief Society, sister Bingham has had her feelings hurt, and admits to probably being insensitive to the feelings of others. However, through God’s help and understanding, she has felt love for those who offended her.
“If you have had a less-than-comfortable experience at Relief Society, remember that we are all learning, so persist in loving your sisters,” said sister Bingham.
Sister Bingham encouraged sisters to reach out and bless others in whatever their sphere of influence may be.
“The Lord is pleased with your efforts when you are focused on serving God’s children and the eternal goal of returning to Him as a ‘new and improved’ version of your spiritual self,” said sister Bingham.