Latter-day Saint women may not be immediately aware of the impact they have on those around them, but those who live a Christ-centered life provide not only a foundation of happiness for themselves, but a beacon for others.
President Gordon B. Hinckley thanked the tens of thousands of women gathered in the Conference Center and in far-flung chapels across the world via satellite for their commitment to God and their families. President Hinckley was addressing those attending Saturday's annual General Relief Society Meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Listing the litany of activities women perform at home, he said that at times he would like to tell men to "wake up and carry your share of the load."
"Do you really appreciate your wife? Do you know how much she does? Do you ever compliment her? Do you ever say thanks to her?"
He encouraged those who feel their efforts are failing or inadequate, remembering a time he spoke to a large gathering and was afterward disappointed in his performance, feeling he hadn't done well. Some years later, a man approached him and thanked him for something he had said at the previous meeting.
"You never know. You never know whether you do any good. You never know how much good you do," President Hinckley said.
Addressing each age group and demographic represented in the church, he told women who have never married not to grieve over it. "The world still needs your talents. It needs your contribution. The church needs your faith."
He encouraged women whose children are teens to think twice about leaving home for employment at a critical time. "You don't need a great big mansion of a house with an all-consuming mortgage that goes on forever …. Weigh carefully that which you do. You do not need some of the extravagances that working outside the home might bring."
Encouraging women to move forward with confidence, he asked them to "walk with pride. Work with diligence. Do whatever the church asks you to do. Pray with faith. You may never know how much good you accomplish."
Sister Bonnie Parkin, general president of the Relief Society, urged women to choose to be charitable not only to their families, but to other women whose choices are different than what they themselves might make. Passing judgment on those who work, whose children didn't serve a mission, who are older or who are single "rob of us the good part, that pure love of Christ."
Comparing oneself to others puts the focus on what women are not, rather than what they are. In looking to the strengths of self and others, in learning to know the heart, "we are different …. I invite you to not only love each other more, but love each other better."
Sister Kathleen Hughes, first counselor in the general presidency, said choosing to be "covenant women" means having made "sacred promises to the Lord" that include building God's kingdom through church and family service.
"Our sisterhood includes all ages and backgrounds; we are connected by the covenants we have made." She urged leaders to make Relief Society a place where women could say to one another, "I'm struggling right now. Will you help me?" The largest women's organization in the world is "not a social club," but one that "can help to lead a world that needs our guidance."
Second counselor Anne Pingree said that "what is in each woman's heart is reflected in the environment and spirit of her home," whether it is "a family of one or a family of many."
When a woman puts Christ at the center of her life, "she's choosing not only to practice Christ-like behavior each day but also to teach her family to do the same." Even in times of trial when a woman may question whether the Lord hears her prayers, focusing on the Savior through prayer brings his "love into her own life and into her own home."