The Gospel Doctrine lesson #23 manual objective is “to inspire class members to follow Jesus’ example by loving and serving others.”
To help people become more Christ-like in being life-givers.
In John 14:6, Jesus explains he is “the way, the truth, and the life.”
If we are suppose to be like Jesus, then how can we also be “the way, the truth, and the life”?
This has been very personally for me recently as I am expecting– I am literally participating in the miracle of giving life to another being. However, no matter what your situation or gender, I think we can all be life-givers in a wide variety of ways.
1- Self care
Ironically, it took me having another being inside of me for me to be able to comfortably ask for things to be done on my behalf. Silly, simple things such as “I need to stop and use the bathroom” or “I need to eat now.” I think sometimes we forget that in order to be life-givers, we need to have strength in our own lives.
This is something so basic that often it is overlooked. To give and sustain life in a very real and necessary way requires food. But, frankly, food has never been my thing.
However, for my friend Bethany, it is. She is passionate that food is a fundamental right. We as a society need to ensure that food is healthy for people and the planet both. Food justice means it is available and affordable for all. Men and women can both work to ensure this basic human right is met. In Christ’s ministry he both literally and spiritually often fed people. This is a core principle for life-giving.
The Proclamation on the Family states that women are divinely appointed to be primary nurturers. To nurture literally means to grow, develop, or give life. To be a nurturer means that we give our best energy to helping something grow…whether it be a fetus in my current case or a business, relationship, career, home, etc.
Nurturing requires our best and consistent effort.
4- Choosing to be a builder
Regardless of your gender, we can all choose to be builders. Years ago I realized that I had a knack for communication. My patriarchal blessing talked to me about doing good with this gift and for years I wondered what it meant. I could major in communications and work in the field but what did it mean to actually use my gift for good every day?
One thing that came to mind that I have tried to practice is that I choose to build in my personal communication with others. When we talk with people our language can sometimes veer towards tearing people and things down. Negativity can creep in and become the game of the day. I found myself satisfied with my witty twist of phrases but empty with the repertoire. For six months I tried a new challenge– to make every conversation a building one. That every person would walk away from me feeling uplifted and energized. This is not to be a Pollyanna but to intentionally choose to use my language to build. It made a remarkable difference. I saw people walk in my office who had been on the edge, walk out renewed. I saw friends choosing to prioritize talking with me because they knew, consciously or not, I would always cheer them on. I saw the relationships with my loved ones grow deeper and stronger. I was truly giving life.
5- Life Enhancer
Bethany uses this term to describe her role in the family. When I first heard it, I loved it. Years later when I quit my job, got married and moved around the world I was adrift in my identity. When people ask you what you do and expect a tidy title, then none seemed to quite fit until I remembered Bethany’s self-appointed one– and I adopted it. I am a life enhancer. For me personally that means that I volunteer a lot of time in a local NGO helping village women learn employable skills in rural India, I pick out what color our walls should be painted, I light candles at dinner, I plan what activities we are going to do on our family holidays, I plot schemes. I ENHANCE our lives. What I offer improves the quality of our life…I am a life-giver.
One of the most powerful roles in giving life is being a Creator. Women and men both contributed to the creation of our world and can continue in this role today in a myriad of ways. President Spencer Kimball said:
“Christ and Mary, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and a host of mighty men and equally glorious women comprised that group of ‘the noble and great ones,’ to whom the Lord Jesus said: ‘We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell’ (Abraham 3:22-24). This we know: Christ, under the Father, is the Creator; Michael his companion and associate, presided over much of the creative work; and with them as Abraham saw, were many of the noble and great ones. Can we do other than conclude that Mary and Eve and Sarah and myriads of our faithful sisters were numbered among them?”
I find that I get personal renewal and satisfaction if I take a few moments every day to be a literal creator. Creation feeds my soul and draws me closer to emulating Christ.
If we are charged to become more Christ-like what are the ways we can give life to ourselves and others?
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Hooked on Creativity, Rebecca Knudsen
I think art making is a process of bearing witness of the truth. If you explore gospel principles sincerely, God blesses you with insight. He also blesses the artist with the ability to translate it visually.
Her Castle on A Cloud, Sandra Turley
I’ve always loved young women and still feel like a teenager in many ways. I understand young women and feel that we have an honest relationship, that they’ll listen to me and hear the message I have to share. I have found that the young women go into my events to listen to a Broadway star, but come out thinking about their relationship with their Heavenly Father, which is all that I could ever hope for. The message that I feel prompted to share with them is about fulfilling the measure of your creation and how innately creative each one of us is. We’ve all been created by Heavenly Father and we then in turn have a chance to create. It’s up to us to talk to Him and ask Him to help us see what He wants us to offer to the world.
We Are Made for Love and Light, Rachel von Niederhausern
My ultimate desire and dream is to have freedom in the world, and to have everyone have the joy of being free. To have good health, good educational opportunities, and to be able to live their own truth.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Belonging is Our Sacred Birthright, Bonnie D. Parkin
In one ward, mothers introduce their daughters to Relief Society in a Sunday meeting when they turn 18. One mother tenderly expressed how her Relief Society sisters had nurtured her from her early marriage: “They have brought meals and hugs in time of sorrow, laughter, and support for celebration. They have taught me the gospel by visiting me and letting me visit them. They have allowed me to make mistakes on their time.” This mother then explained to her daughter how the daisies in their garden came from Carolyn, the lilies from Venice, the buttercups from Pauline. The daughter was amazed. Her mother replied, “These women are my sisters in every way, and I am grateful to bring you into their care.