Meeting a Mentor

Years ago I had a question:  What is the difference between a weakness and a sin?  Usually, when I ask a comparison question like this I’m really asking, “How do these two things feel different?”
After visiting with a friend on the subject, she saw this book in a bookstore and told me about it.  I picked it up instantly.  I still remember the moment I started to read.  We were going on a trip and I was sitting in the passenger’s seat.  As I read the first page or two, I began to sob.  This was my answer!  This book was exactly what I needed to overcome my feelings of perfectionism and self-doubt.  This book changed my life.

Fast forward several years.  By this time I had read a couple of other books by the author, listened to some talks she’d given, and found an article or two.  Wendy Ulrich had definitely become a favorite of mine.  Then she published, Let God Love You.  The first time I read it I thought, “This is amazing!" (Everything she writes is amazing!).  However, the first time I read, I didn’t implement the lessons into my life very well.  A few years later, after experiencing some depression and struggles, I picked up the book again.  Only this time I worked on the exercises in the back of the book.  I read it in one day and by the time my husband came home from work I was changed!  The poor man didn’t know how to respond to the tears and emotions of liberation I was feeling!  Again, this woman had literally changed my life!

Most recently I have been serving as Relief Society President.  With all of the changes and revelation that has been falling from heaven through our leaders, there was one change that has caused me some struggle.  Without going into too much detail, the premise is that the Relief Society and the Elders Quorum are to work more closely together.  Working out the details on what that means can be a little tricky.  I was so excited to hear Wendy Ulrich had published another book and bought Live up to Our Privileges right away.  I was fascinated with what I was reading and loved how she was breaking down each priesthood office, explaining their responsibilities and the meaning for women of each office.  Somehow, other things got in the way (children, calling, life!) and I set the book aside.  As the wrestle with the Elders Quorum and Relief Society situation became a bit more intense, I was prompted to pick up Wendy’s book.  She did it again!  Her words gave me the confidence to move forward and continue on the path of figuring out what it really means to work under priesthood authority...together!

Saturday, November 16th, was a beautiful day when I finally had the opportunity to meet this woman who has had such an impact on my life.  I couldn’t hold back the tears while we visited.  I told her, “If I believed in hero worship, you would be my hero.”  I really did act a bit ridiculous about meeting her.  Afterwards, I realized I didn’t even think to get a picture with her! (I guess another meeting is in order.)

Here’s the thing:  some of my greatest mentors have been authors.  Wendy Ulrich has been one of those mentors in my life.  I tell friends, “She’s the LDS version of Brene Brown!”   Nearly everything I have read has resonated with me in such a way that helps me sort out my emotions and clarifies gospel principles.  She has helped me feel the difference between what we talk about in church and how we apply that teaching to our hearts.  Her words have increased my aspirations to write, to learn, to share and to grow closer to my Father in Heaven.

And so I say,  “Thank you, Wendy.  Thank you for putting your thoughts and research into writing so that women like me can be blessed by them. Thank you for being a champion for women and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for letting me harass you at the conference.  And thank you for the book (so far so good).  You truly are as amazing in person as you are in your writings. I love you!”

 - - - - - - -

“By right of our covenant relationship with God, our willing obedience, and our humble petitions, we are entitled to [His] grace, this enabling power of God as our Father, Jesus as our Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost as our Comforter.  Their grace is sufficient to compensate for every human sin and weakness, to make us holy and without spot, and this, in the humble words of Nephi, ‘notwithstanding [our] weakness.'"
 - Wendy Ulrich - 

More Books By Wendy Ulrich


Worth vs. Worthiness

Sitting in church the other day I was struck by the word "worthiness" during the sacrament.  I think we are very good at confusing worth and worthiness.  And it's not hard to see why when we read the following definitions:

Worth:  Value; that quality of a thing which renders it useful, or which will produce and equivalent godo in some other hting; value of mental qualities; excellence; virtue; usefulness; importance; valuable qualities. 

Worthy/Worthiness:  Deserving; such as merits; having wroth or excellence; equivalent; possessing worth or excellence of qualities; virtuous; estimable; suitable; either in a good o bad sense; equal in value. 

However, Joy D. Jones recently defined the difference between these two words: 

Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words:  wroth and worthiness.  They are not the same.  Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us.  Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth.  "God's love is invite and will endure forever."  

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience.  If we sin, we are less worthy, but we're never worth less!  We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth in tact.  As President Brigham Young taught: "The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth...is wroth worlds."  No matter what, we always have wroth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father (Value Beyond Measure, Oct. 2017).

The key difference then is that worthiness is something we gain, while to be worthy is an eternal part of our divine nature. 


We can gain insight on worthiness from a couple of our sacramental hymns:

Purify our hearts, Our Savior
Let us go not far astray,
That we may be counted worthy
Of thy Spirit day by day. 
Hymn 183 In Remembrance of they Suffering

To be like thee!  I lift my eyes
From earth below toward heav'n above, 
That i may learn from vaulted skies
How I my worthiness can prove. 
Hymn 171 With Humble Heart

Yes, worthiness is something we can prove.  We entered into mortality so that we could proven (Abraham 3:25).   And yet, oftentimes we believe our worth is determined by our worthiness. 

Elder Dale G. Renlund has taught that we don't earn blessings, we qualify for them (CR April 2019).  Likewise, in one of President Henry B. Eyring's latest talks he states that "the holiness we seek is a gift from a loving God, granted over time, after all we can do (CR Oct. 2019)."  This again suggests that our worthiness is based on obedience, not our identity.  Worth, however, is eternally ours. 


Wendy Ulrich explains worth this way: 

Anciently, the mercy seat was covered both inside and out with fine gold workmanship, suggesting both the blazing glory of God and the supreme inner worth of every human soul.  This is not a derivative worth based merely on our usefulness or even our goodness.  It is our inherent worth, to which Christ testifies when he claims us as his seed and promises us his mercy...Despite outward displays of obedience, we have little sense of our worth.  Critical enemy voices, now internalized, rob us of the mercy seat that belongs within (The Temple Experience, pp. 220-221).

President Thomas S. Monson stated perfectly, "The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God (quoted by Joy D. Jones)." 

Our lessons in Relief Society can often leave us feeling down on ourselves rather than stronger.  We use the room as a place to dwell on our "guilt" as mothers and women rather than using the doctrines of the gospel to edify all.  Relief Society is a place where we need to be learning our divine worth, not bemoaning our unworthiness.  We often mistake self-degradations for humility. 

To this Sister Jones encourages, "Thinking small about ourselves does not serve us well.  Instead it holds us back.  If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives.  He saves us from ourselves."  

I love that!  "He saves us from ourselves!"  Thinking small holds us back!  And so we must come to recognize that knowing our worth propels us forward as we seek to live more worthily.  An important distinction I hope to internalize more fully in my own life.  

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Sisters, let's not be confused about who we are!  While it is often easier to be spiritually passive than it is to put forth the spiritual effort to remember and embrace our divine identity, we cannot afford that indulgence in these latter days.  
 - - Joy D. Jones - - 


Firm and Reverent Call to Action

(This post was written after the April 2019 General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It holds true since our most recent conference in October as well.)

We just finished another great General Conference weekend for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We were filled and filled some more with words of teaching, encouragement, love, warnings and direction.  I was like the little boy quoted by President Russell M. Nelson, "I need to feed my spirit."  And boy was I fed!

Usually after each conference I try to find the theme I saw running through the talks.  Oftentimes it comes pretty obvious for me.  This time it took a little more pondering and talking things out with others.  There was a directness in these talks more than I've felt in a long time.  We have heard much in the past years of God's love for all of His children, a much needed and critical message.  However, even in God's chastisements and warnings we can feel deeply of His love.  This is what I felt as I listened to the words of our church leaders this past weekend - - love through the direct counsel from the Lord.

The ultimate message (for me):  We must LEARN for ourselves of the TRUTHS of the gospel and be AGENTS who ACT in order to receive the intended blessings the Lord has in store for us. 

Conference truly was a firm and reverent call to action.

We were called to build up Zion in preparation for the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We were chastised in making our sacrament meetings greater spaces of worship and care.

There was a call to personal fortification in our testimonies as we strive to seek for the truth.

We were reminded of the need for greater teaching in our homes, inviting deeper doctrinal discussions based in scriptures and words of the prophets.

At least three times President Nelson's warning was given to us:  "We will not stand...without the Holy Ghost."

And in the Sunday morning session President Russell M. Nelson urged us to make the necessary covenants needed for exaltation with our families.

Yes.  God does love us. He is also pleading with us to stand strong in a world that is more quickly deteriorating.  In the leadership training notes we read that President Nelson warned our leaders, "If you folks are not being persecuted on a daily basis, you are not doing your job very well.  Fortify our people.  The adversary is an incorrigible insomniac.  He never sleeps."  Now, more than ever before, we are to heed the clarion call to be more careful, more reverent, more holy, and more committed to living the gospel principles.
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