SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will hold the 187th Semiannual General Conference on Sept. 23 and Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency
President Uchtdorf began the session’s concluding message with a fictional story about three sisters.
The first sister was constantly sad because she didn’t feel pretty or socially competent. The second sister was always mad. There was always someone out to get her or someone who performed better than she did. The third sister, however, was glad. She was not smarter or more beautiful than her sisters, but she didn’t worry about what others said about her, he said.
President Uchtdorf explained that, while no one is so one-dimensional as these fictional sisters, many listening may see part of themselves in these sisters.
President Uchtdorf admonished the women of the church to resist seeing themselves as a victim of unfortunate circumstances or the constant target of enemies, like the first and second sisters. Instead, he counseled those listening to be like the third sister and to live lives of joy.
“In the end, you have the power to choose both your destination and many of your experiences along the way,” he said.
It is not one’s abilities but their choices that determine what their life will become, he said.
“I’ve learned for myself that the path of discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to joy,” President Uchtdorf said. “If the path becomes difficult for you, I hope you will find refuge and strength in our wonderful organizations of the church.”
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president
Sister Jones talked about a woman’s “divine worth,” or the value of her life in the sight of God. She shared examples from two converts to the LDS Church who said they previously didn’t feel “very special” or loved. But after learning about the church and its teachings, both said they felt loved as daughters of Heavenly Father, and their attitudes changed.
Recounting the experience of one of the women, Sister Jones said: “She was like a moth attracted to the light. She said ‘When I found the gospel, I found myself.’”
Sister Jones shared an experience about a teenager from Utah who was a junior in high school when she found out she had cancer. After an 18-month bout, Taiana Brown died. Prior to her death, Taiana was asked several times “Why you?” Her response always was: “Why not me?”
“Taiana understood her divine worth, knowing she was a daughter of God, who gave her peace and courage to face her overwhelming trial in the positive way she did,” Sister Jones said.
Sister Jones compared the words worth and worthiness, saying the two are not the same.
“Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us and not as the world values us. Our value was determined before we ever came to the earth,” she said. “Worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less.”
She concluded that the women of the church need to understand their true value — their value as daughters of God — and not get caught up in negative thoughts and feelings about themselves.
“If we choose to focus on our negative thoughts and doubts, worry instead of clinging to the Savior, it becomes more difficult to feel portions of the Holy Ghost,” she concluded. “Sisters, let us 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.”
Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency
Sister Marriott spoke of the importance of learning to love and serve in the same ways as God and his son Jesus Christ.
“We need to continually deepen our knowledge of and obedience to our Heavenly Father,” she said.
Coming to know God and Jesus Christ can bless those seeking for truth and give them godly knowledge, love, power and the capacity to serve, Sister Marriott said. When followers of Christ come upon challenges in their life, they can either choose to let the challenges be distractions, or let the trials drive them to their knees to ask God for help in prayer.
Sister Marriott recounted a struggle she had with a relative who disagreed with her over political issues. Her relative picked apart her arguments and Sister Marriott felt humiliated and uninformed. She prayed to God and complained about her relative, but soon felt the need to love her instead.
Sister Marriott was unsure of how to do so. She said she wasn’t even sure she liked this relative, so she asked God to bless her with a part of his love. She was then overcome with a feeling of love for this relative, she said.
“Simple love, honestly expressed, gives hope to others,” Sister Marriott said.