October 15th, 2013 by admin


Knowing Her Worth

Knowing Her Worth

Elizabeth Smart

On June 5, 2002, at the age of 14, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City and spent nine months in captivity. Her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, were both sentenced to prison in 2011. Since her captivity, Elizabeth has become an advocate for the prevention of child sexual abuse.

On Friday, October 11th, MWP editor Neylan McBaine spent a few minutes with Elizabeth as part of her media tour promoting her new book, My Story. Their conversation follows. You can also read Neylan’s thoughts on the book and on Elizabeth’s experience here.

SmartbookHow did Jesus Christ’s atonement help you survive your captivity and heal since then?

I always knew that my Heavenly Father was with me and that he loved me. That really made a big difference to me, just knowing that he was there. And also knowing that Jesus knew exactly what I was going through, that he wouldn’t abandon me. I know that everything I have lost he will make up to me. I’m not left alone.

Was there a teaching from your parents or teachers at church that you continued going back to during your captivity?

I knew that my family is forever and that God knows exactly who I am. I knew he would never abandon me or forget about me.

Were there ever moments when you felt, if not abandoned, angry with God?  How did you move past that?

I never felt angry with God.  I knew that we are all here to make our own decisions, make our choices, and that sometimes other people’s choices will hurt us. They can almost destroy us, but that that’s not from God.  He doesn’t want these bad things to happen to us, but if we are faithful to him and if we hold on good can come out of it one way or another. We may never know how good will come, but it will come. We may never know the effect of what we went through, but we can know that good will come out of it and that we are prepared for what we are tested.

Do you feel like your relationship with God changed over the course of your captivity?

I always had a testimony but I felt that it became much more real during those nine months and that I didn’t have anyone else to turn to but God. My family wasn’t there, my friends  weren’t there. The only person I had to turn to was my Heavenly Father. So I felt like my relationship became much more real and yes, I do think it definitely changed my relationship when I was kidnapped. I think it even has continued to change even to where I am today… knowing that my relationship with God is not like a, I guess. a mystical, imaginative thing. It’s very real like the relationship that I have with my mom, my dad, or a friend. It’s every bit as real as that.

You have obviously made the media talking about some of the lessons that you learned in Young Womens that were not optimal. What would you ideally like Young Women in the church to know about their worth and about the role of chastity or sexual abuse in their lives?

It is important to understand that, despite whatever happens, no matter what you do, you will always have value. That that can never be taken away from you and that can never be changed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will always be loved and that love and that value cannot be taken away from you, cannot be tarnished or will never grow old. It will always be there for you. It’s not for anyone else to judge what someone’s been through, whether it was by choice or by force. It’s not for us to judge. That’s between that person and God and whoever they decide to involve.

What are your dreams and next steps professionally and personally?  Do you feel like you have been called to do the work that you are doing now or is there something else that you’re interested in pursuing?

I certainly feel like I have an incredible opportunity to be able to go out and speak and share my story and be able to work in child advocacy, but I also want to have a family. I also want to be the kind of mom that my mom was for me. I want to be there for my children and that’s a huge deal to me.

Is there anything else that you would like to say to Mormon women in particular?

Just that miracles happen and that we should always have hope because we are never abandoned. You never know what you are going to be able to do with what you have experienced.



  1. Senora H-B
    1:03 pm on October 15th, 2013

    I am so glad that you had the opportunity to interview Elizabeth. I have followed her story closely from the beginning. I remember having to pull my car over to the side of the road to cry when I heard that she had been found. It was such a testimony to me of the power of will to survive and the power of prayer. Now to see the intelligent, articulate, graceful woman that she has become I am even more impressed by her fortitude.

  2. Senora H-B
    1:05 pm on October 15th, 2013

    I meant to add that I sincerely appreciate her message about individual worth. Hers is a message that women all over the world need. Thank you for helping to share that message here!

  3. Blue
    10:43 pm on October 15th, 2013

    in june of 2002 my daughter was five years old. we lived in a small new england town at the time, but the news of elizabeth’s ordeal was everywhere. my little girl started adding her name in EVERY single prayer she said. after a few months when the story stopped making headlines and no progress seemed to be happening, i thought my girl would lapse. i confess i thought elizabeth was gone forever, since that’s generally what happens in such cases. i wasn’t quite sure how to tell my daughter it was okay to stop praying for her to be found, so i decided to just let her keep at it.

    i will never forget her response the day she came home from kindergarten and i told her elizabeth had been found, and that she was okay. she froze, eyes wide as saucers as tears of joy filled them, her hand flew to her mouth and she said “bless my heart!”…which was a funny thing to hear a little girl say. but with so many prayers wearying the lord to find that sweet girl, i was very grateful for the outcome. it was a faith-building experience for so many people, and also taught me that you can never pray too long or often for something.

  4. Shelly
    7:45 am on October 18th, 2013

    I have been following Elizabeth’s story as well and in the middle of reading her book. I am also reading the book her parents wrote and the one her uncle wrote. Her Uncle says she was “fourteen going on Eleven”, but not really. She knew who she was and stayed true to it. She was a strong girl who is an even strong woman.

    I love Blue’s comments about her daughter. I too prayed…felt I needed to for Elizabeth. Perhaps all those prayers from everyone is why she was found.

    I don’t have daughters, but I could not imagine going through this with one of my sons. Elizabeth’s parents are a shining example of positive attitude and just knew she would be returned alive. What strong parents!

  5. H
    1:42 pm on October 18th, 2013

    We prayed and prayed. Oh, we prayed! And what a miracle it has all turned out to be — the beautiful truth that, with God, joy can be borne of sorrow.

  6. Erin
    1:19 pm on October 27th, 2013

    I hope Elizabeth sees these comments. We prayed for you too. Thank you for sharing your trial with others. You are a great example.

  7. Julie
    9:15 pm on January 21st, 2014

    This was a beautiful interview by a beautiful woman (inside and out). Thank you Elizabeth, for your courage and being so strong.

    My dad was on one of the search teams looking for you. We kept you in our thoughts constantly and loved how your parents never gave up. You are incredible, as is your family.

  8. Rachael
    7:01 pm on June 11th, 2014

    I remember walking through the BYU bookstore and seeing the TV showing the breaking news that Elizabeth had been found. I sobbed as I watched the story, as did everyone else in the gathering crowd. An answer to so many prayers, and I am so grateful for Elizabeth’s resilience, courage, and faith.

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