General Conference: To the Women of the Church from the Prophet

Listening to a speaker at Conference yesterday reminded me of a talk President Hinckley once gave. While both men focused their words to single mothers, the Prophet directed his words specifically to those with emotional pain.

Everyone has felt pain. Pain is often a warning of something wrong and in this way can be a blessing. I have experienced both physical and emotional pain in my life. Once I had a pain in my side that finally got bad enough I went to see a Doctor. He detected and removed a very large cancerous kidney tumor. I had a similar situation a few years later when headaches led Doctors to find and remove a brain tumor. While this physical pain was not fun, its warning saved my life – twice. I could have chosen to ignore my pain, but I didn’t. If I had, I would have forfeited my life.

The same can often be said of emotional pain. When I was LDS I suffered the pain of failing to gain forgiveness through the process of repentance. I failed because I just couldn’t keep all of Heavenly Father’s commands all the time. When I repeated a sin, like gossiping or not forgiving someone, I lost what precious forgiveness I had already gained. The anguish from this pain was a warning which led me to seek help in finding the only cure — my Savior.

When I met the true Christ I learned that no one can gain forgiveness with their own works. John the Baptist declares that Christ’s works have already taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The forgiveness of sins comes only through the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice. And Jesus sacrificed His perfect life for us over 2,000 years ago. The Apostle Peter testifies that forgiveness is granted the moment a person believes in Jesus: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43).

Are you a woman in pain who struggles with depression or anxiety? Were you sexually abused as a child and don’t know how to overcome the emotional trauma? Is your spouse addicted to pornography? Are your burdens heavy because you have been abandoned by your husband or have been widowed? Have you been left alone to raise your children? Do you often “cry in your closet” but wish you had someone to simply listen to you? Do you pretend you are fine but “put a smile on your face whenever you are in front of others“?

Put on a smile before others

Put on a smile before others

Some years ago in General Conference President Hinckley had a message for such hurting women: “Now I speak to you single mothers whose burdens are so heavy because you have been abandoned or have been widowed. Yours is a terrible load. Bear it well. Seek the blessings of the Lord. Be grateful for any assistance that may come out of the quorums of the priesthood to help you in your home or with other matters. Pray silently in your closet, and let the tears flow if they must come. But put a smile on your face whenever you are before your children or others.

Hiding your pain from family and friends is never the answer! If you had a daughter whose spouse died or who abandoned her, would you tell her to pray and cry in her closet but pretend to others that her burden was not heavy? How could anyone reach out to her if she hid her affliction from others? The most daunting aspect of these words is that according to LDS prophets they are not merely President Hinckley’s opinion, they are the words of Heavenly Father – His latest revelation.

My pain of failing to earn forgiveness led me to discover that Heavenly Father would never say these words! Instead He tells us to “bear one another’s burdens”; words which compel your Christian brothers and sisters to reach out to you in love (Galatians 6:2). God’s Words comfort, heal and speak of unconditional forgiveness. God showed His ultimate love for us by punishing His one and only Son to heal our disease of sin (John 3:16).

Are you in pain and tired of pretending? If so, I pray that pain drives you to seek the Savior who has borne your grief and carried your sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). May it drive you to a Christian Congregation of brothers and sisters who welcome the opportunity to share your burdens.

Or, you could choose to hide your pain, alone in your closet. But if you do you may well forfeit the joy of living with your Savior for life eternal.

Additional Testimony:
Visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions:
– James 1:27
Give all your burdens to Heavenly Father & Jesus:
– Matthew 11:28
– 1 Peter 5:7
– Philippians 4:6-7
– Psalm 23:4
– Psalm 119:50
Additional LDS Words:

Found in TofPofC-Harold B. Lee, page 84:
“His prophet is upon the earth today, and if you want to know the last revelation that has come to this people, you get down the last conference report and read carefully especially what the First Presidency said… “You will have the best and the last word that has been given from our Heavenly Father.”

Found in D&C Gospel Doctrine Teachers Manual, page 244:
“Emphasize that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. They continue to receive revelation to guide the Church. “Their direction is “the will of the Lord, … the mind of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation”.

Link to President Hinckley’s Words:
General Conference, Ensign, November 2003, page 115
President Gordon B. Hinckley, To the Women of the Church
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Making Covenants and Virginity Pledges for Someone Who Has Been Sexually Abused

I was reading the newly revised “For the Strength of Youth” at the lds youth website. It reminded me of an article I read a few years ago at Mormontimes.com about Virginity Pledges. Both articles stirred up some difficult memories for me which took me back to my childhood, because I was sexually abused as a child. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when it first started, but it lasted for most of my childhood. I have memories of things happening before I entered first grade and I lost my virginity about the time I was baptized at the age of eight.

Many things about my life of abuse are hard to explain with mere words. Inwardly, I spent years in a fog, simply struggling to survive. All my life I felt so much shame and guilt. I was unclean and impure. I was different than every person I knew. My heart’s desire was to be clean, pure and normal. Outwardly, no one would have suspected the emotional trauma I was going through. I hid my pain well by pretending to the world that I was a happy and normal Mormon girl.

At the age of twelve, I entered Mutual. My teacher was a very nice woman and made an effort to connect with the girls in her class. But one class stands out in my memory as very traumatic. Her Lesson focused on Chastity and how important it was for us to be morally clean. She told us that our most treasured possession was our virginity. She asked us to make a covenant to remain a virgin until we got married. She said that we should never do anything that compromised our most precious possession. For my ears, this was devastating. It was too late for me. I was already impure and had lost my virginity years before.

Then, she told us something that I will never forget. She said that our virginity was so precious that if someone tried to take it away from us by force, we should kill ourselves to protect it. She testified that our virginity was more important to us than our life. Hearing these words cut through my heart like a knife. The abuse continued for a few more years and every time, in addition to the shame, I now felt guilt for not having the courage to take my life. My pain was devastating and my heart’s desire was to be free from shame and guilt.

About fifteen years later this was still my heart’s desire. I had come no closer to finding any relief from my pain. There was nothing more important to me than gaining forgiveness. My desire was to be clean and pure like everyone else I knew. It was then that I turned to a book written by my Prophet Spencer W. Kimball called “The Miracle of Forgiveness“. Here, I just knew I would find the answer to my pain. Instead, I found more guilt and a reinforcement of what my Mutual teacher had told me. I read:

“Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.

My pain was so intense I would have committed suicide had I not had two little daughters who needed me. And, it was these two little girls that helped me to realize the abuse hadn’t been my fault. As their mother I could see that these little girls had no interest in sex. I started reading about sexually abused children and I learned that children are victims, not willing participants. I myself had survived each ordeal by pretending I was asleep and trying to pretend it wasn’t happening to me.

Surprisingly, realizing it wasn’t my fault did not release me from my feelings of guilt and shame. Maybe it was because of my Prophets words that it would have been better that I had died in defending my virtue. I still felt morally unclean and impure. I was a defective and broken woman who did not know how to become whole and clean. A few years later I left the Mormon Church and about a year after that gave up on what I thought was Christianity in general. I pretended that my feelings of guilt and shame were gone, but they weren’t. I tried convincing myself that the God who created our world didn’t care about me or my pain. But I was wrong! And oh how thankful I am that I was wrong.

Jesus came and rescued me even though I had given up on Him. God sent a Christian into my life who told me that the God who created our world actually loved me! He didn’t care that I was broken and guilt ridden. This loving God led me to the truth and gave me the desire of my heart! He told me that through Jesus I was clean and pure! At thirty six years of age I learned that in God’s eyes, I was as pure and clean as a virgin! All because of Jesus! In fact, John the Beloved testified to me that everyone whose hope is in Jesus is as pure as Jesus himself! (1 John 3:3)

I have had lots of difficult things happen to me in my life but nothing has affected me more deeply than the sexual abuse. Today, even at fifty-three years of age I still struggle with emotional aftereffects from it. But, I praise the Lord that through Jesus’ blood I have been cleansed! My most treasured possession is the forgiveness of all my sins. I live my life devoted to my Savior who freely won it for me. And, I learned that my life is more precious to Him than my “virtue”.

Now, my heart’s desire is to share what I have been given with you. If you were sexually abused and have had to sit through a Mutual class like I did, my heart goes out to you. If you don’t know how to become whole, trust in the fact that your Savior has made you clean and pure with His blood.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-12)

Find Peace and Healing through Faith in Jesus!

I have such a passion for sharing God’s truth with Mormons. My love for witnessing started soon after the Holy Spirit brought me to faith over fourteen years ago. I want the whole world to know what my Savior has done for me. His healing took away my life of shame and misery and gave me the peace that transcends all understanding.

My life is devoted to sharing the good news that the forgiveness of sins has already been earned through Christ’s work. Mormons need to hear this message because LDS prophets claim that forgiveness depends upon their own works! All who believe this false teaching deny that Christ’s Atonement was sufficient payment for the sins of the world.

This is why I volunteer with a Christian Ministry that reaches out to Mormons. Truth in Love Ministry (TILM) proclaims God’s truth with love and respect to Mormons and equips other Christians to do the same. I am so thankful that God led me to be involved with TILM. I absolutely love working directly with Mormons and ex-Mormons. The thrill of watching someone come to faith is exhilarating and addictive.

One of the more difficult things I do for TILM is speak at Christian Seminars about my life as a Mormon. While this isn’t my favorite thing to do, I have come to accept that it is what God wants of me. The contribution I bring to these Seminars is invaluable because I can give Christians a glimpse into the life of a Mormon woman. While my struggles do not portray the life of every Mormon, they do expose how Mormonisms false teachings affect those who are sincerely seeking forgiveness.

Mine was a life full of suffering and sin. The memory of the shame caused by sexual abuse is so painful that it is almost unbearable speaking of it in front of so many people. Even after ten years of doing so, it still isn’t easy. Just imagine bearing your testimony at Fast and Testimony meeting—but instead of sharing your faith, you confess that your life is one of misery and sin. In spite of how much I dislike bearing my soul at these Seminars, I do so willingly–for my Savior. And, I do it for you too!

There are many Mormons who spend every day working with all their might, trying to gain the forgiveness of sins—just as I did. There are many Mormons who live in shame and misery. I know this because I have spoken to and read about many others who were sexually abused—just as I was. There are many Mormons who struggle with homosexuality because they were abused as a child. And thousands of Mormons recognize they are unworthy and can’t do enough to get right with God.

I know this because I have been blessed to be involved with many ex-Mormons who have found the truth and I have listened to their stories of pain and suffering. I have also read the words of many Mormons and ex-Mormons who are still hurting—stories written online in numerous blogs, websites and newsgroups. A simple search online will demonstrate that what I say is true.

While we can read these stories on the internet, there are few Mormons who will share their unhappiness with family, friends or neighbors. Looking back at my life I am amazed at how well I kept my life of shame a secret. I used laughter and a smile to ensure that no one knew of my misery. Mormons are not encouraged to share their pains with others. It seems that the image of the Church is more important to its leaders than getting help for those who are hurting.

A few years ago I wrote a Post showing an example of this from what I read in a General Conference issue of the Ensign. Click here to read it:. President Hinckley told single mothers in the Church:

“Now I speak to you single mothers whose burdens are so heavy because you have been abandoned or have been widowed. Yours is a terrible load. Bear it well. Seek the blessings of the Lord. Be grateful for any assistance that may come out of the quorums of the priesthood to help you in your home or with other matters. Pray silently in your closet, and let the tears flow if they must come. But put a smile on your face whenever you are before your children or others.

Were you one of the women that Hinckley spoke to? Did you disobey him and reach out to someone who could help you? Or, did you follow the words of your Prophet and put a smile on your face in spite of how miserable you felt?

Another example of this was seen in a talk given last year by the Young Women’s President, Sister Dalton. She told the Young Women to be “one hundred percent in daily prayer, scripture study and what she says may be the most challenging, smiling”. Click here to read my Post:. One has to wonder why Sister Dalton believes that “smiling” may be the most challenging aspect for LDS Young Women.

In both these cases the leader is encouraging an expression to create a false impression that the person is happy in the Church. It’s no wonder that most Christians have no clue that many Mormons are silently suffering in pain and misery. It seems that Mormon leaders don’t want them to know.

I believe this is one reason why telling my life’s story to Christians is so valuable. They need to realize that Mormons who smile a lot might not really be that happy. They need to know that many Mormons are miserable and don’t know their Savior. And, they need to understand that Mormons don’t know that all their sins have been forgiven. It’s with this knowledge that Christians will be compelled to reach out in truth and love to their Mormon friends.

I spent so many miserable years pretending to be happy, but I wasn’t. Amazingly, the recognition that you are completely unworthy may be painful to the unbeliever. But that knowledge is how the Holy Spirit leads people to see their need for Jesus–the free forgiveness earned by their Savior.

What a joy it is not to have to pretend any more!! The desire of my heart is to share my Savior with you. I pray that you will find healing through Jesus, just as Isaiah prophesied of the coming Savior:

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:4-5)

This good news has brought a genuine smile to all who believe it!

If you want to read some amazing stories of healing through Jesus, go to this website written especially for LDS women:

General Conference: To the Women of the Church from the Prophet

The Blessing of Pain

Everyone has felt pain. Pain is often a warning of something wrong and in this way can be a blessing. I have experienced both physical and emotional pain in my life. Once I had a pain in my side that finally got bad enough I went to see a Doctor. He detected and removed a cancerous kidney tumor. I had a similar situation a few years later when headaches led Doctors to find and remove a brain tumor. While this physical pain was not fun, its warning saved my life – twice. I could have chosen to ignore my pain, but I didn’t. If I had, I would have forfeited my life.

The same can often be said of emotional pain. As a Mormon I suffered the pain of failing to gain forgiveness through the process of repentance. I failed because I just couldn’t keep all of Heavenly Father’s commands all the time. When I repeated a sin, like gossiping or not forgiving someone, I lost what precious forgiveness I had already earned. The anguish from this pain was a warning which led me to seek help in finding a cure.

Are you a woman in pain who struggles with depression or anxiety? Were you sexually abused as a child and don’t know how to overcome the emotional trauma? Is your spouse addicted to pornography? Are your burdens heavy because you have been abandoned by your husband or have been widowed? Have you been left alone to raise your children? Do you often cry in your closet but wish you had someone to simply listen to you? Do you pretend you are fine but put a smile on your face whenever you are in front of others?

Put on a smile before others

Put on a smile before others

A few years ago in General Conference President Hinckley had a message for such hurting women: Now I speak to you single mothers whose burdens are so heavy because you have been abandoned or have been widowed. Yours is a terrible load. Bear it well. Seek the blessings of the Lord. Be grateful for any assistance that may come out of the quorums of the priesthood to help you in your home or with other matters. Pray silently in your closet, and let the tears flow if they must come. But put a smile on your face whenever you are before your children or others.

Hiding your pain is never the answer. If you had a daughter whose spouse died or who abandoned her, would you tell her to pray and cry in her closet but pretend to others that her burden was not heavy? How could anyone reach out to her if she hid her affliction from others? The most daunting aspect of these words is that according to Mormonism they are not merely President Hinckley’s opinion, they are the words of Heavenly Father – His latest revelation.

My pain of failing to earn forgiveness led me to discover Heavenly Father would never say these words! Instead He tells us to “bear one another’s burdens”; words which compels your Christian brothers and sisters to reach out to you in love (Galatians 6:2). God’s Words comfort, heal and speak of unconditional forgiveness. God showed His ultimate love for us by punishing His one and only Son to heal our disease of sin (John 3:16).

Are you in pain and tired of pretending? If so, I pray that pain drives you to seek the Savior who has borne your grief and carried your sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). May it drive you to a Christian Congregation of brothers and sisters who welcome the opportunity to share your burdens. Or, you could choose to hide your pain, alone in your closet. But if you do you may well forfeit your eternal life.

Additional Testimony:
Visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions:
– James 1:27
Give all your burdens to Heavenly Father & Jesus:
– Matthew 11:28
– 1 Peter 5:7
– Philippians 4:6-7
– Psalm 23:4
– Psalm 119:50
Additional LDS Words:

Found in TofPofC-Harold B. Lee, page 84:
“His prophet is upon the earth today, and if you want to know the last revelation that has come to this people, you get down the last conference report and read carefully especially what the First Presidency said. … You will have the best and the last word that has been given from our Heavenly Father.

Found in D&C Gospel Doctrine Teachers Manual, page 244:
“Emphasize that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. They continue to receive revelation to guide the Church. Their direction is “the will of the Lord, … the mind of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation”.

Link to President Hinckley’s Words:
General Conference, Ensign, November 2003, page 115
President Gordon B. Hinckley, To the Women of the Church