It has taken several years for me to define what it means to be a woman in my mind. Over the years I have gone from one extreme to the other in my thoughts and feelings on the subject. Though I only just barely grasp the concept, only very recently have I been able to wrap my head around what it means to be a Daughter of God.
Though it might not seem like it to everyone, I take my roles as a woman, wife and mother very seriously and given my passion for the divine nature of womanhood, it will come as no surprise when I tell you how excited I was to open my mailbox and find The Beginning of Better Days: Divine Instruction to Women from the Prophet Joseph Smith.
When I saw how short this book was (less than 140 pages) I thought it wouldn’t take long to get through and while I imagine it might be a quick read for some, I spent too much time pondering the wonderful insights and doctrine to finish it quickly.
The first two thirds of the book are the personal insights of Virginia H. Pearce and Sheri Dew. I find it fabulous how two great women such as these can study the same papers and have two entirely different experiences. That is a testimony to me of the truthfulness of the Gospel. The Spirit of God speaks to each of us in our own need.
Sister Pearce helps put the instruction to the sisters in historical context as well as adding her own thoughts about the nature of women. The history of the time period cannot be ignored. As Sister Pearce mentions, at the time of the organization of the Relief Society women had no rights at all under the law; neither was it customary for the male leaders of organizations to give the women any heed. Joseph Smith not only met with the women of the church, but he listened, acknowledged their desires and acted upon them. I find it interesting and feel it is no coincidence that it was only after the women of the church had been organized under the direction of the Lord did women as a whole begin to see any progress in the expansion of their rights as individuals. Just as technological advances exploded after the priesthood was restored to the earth, so too did advancements in woman’s and civil liberties begin.
Sister Dew’s thoughts are quite different. She explains how these revelations helped her gain a greater understanding and love for the Priesthood and the temple. I especially appreciate her personal stories and getting to know her just a little bit better. Her testimony of the Priesthood is inspiring. She has single handedly convinced me that understanding and taking part in the blessings of the Priesthood is part of my responsibility as a woman.
Highlighter in hand I had several of my own “a hah” moments where my own doctrinal questions were answered. As I read the sermons themselves I had several phrases leap out, almost pleading for me to study more on this one topic.
One such example being when a lively discussion occurred while they were trying to decide on a name for this unique organization. Several people objected to the term “relief” since it alluded to disaster occurring before anything could be done. Some thought the word “benevolent” would be more appropriate, especially considering it was a common word to use at the time for such societies of women. Emma Smith said, “the popularity of the word benevolent is one great objection… we do not wish to have it called after other Societies in the world…we are going to do something extraordinary” She was quite right.
The Relief Society is the largest women’s organization in the world with approximately 6 million members. Anyone who has felt the blessings that come from serving with any one of those 6 million women knows just how extraordinary it is.
I am also giving away a copy to one of you lucky ladies! You can enter up to five times using the rafflecopter below :)