I was reading an article at MormonTimes.com a few years back about a talk given by the Young Women’s General President at the time—Elaine Dalton. She issued a “challenge” to Young Women to study the Book of Mormon at least five minutes a day, say morning and nightly prayers and to smile. The article states:
“Elaine Dalton hopes she soon has young women approaching her with two thumbs up. That signifies they are ‘One-hundred Percent’ — one hundred percent in daily prayer, scripture study and what she says may be the most challenging, smiling”.
Two phrases in this article jump out at me. They are “challenge” and “One-hundred Percent”. They bring to mind one of my favorite scenes in the life of Jesus. It is the story about Simon the self righteous Pharisee and the woman who loved Jesus so much she washed His feet with her hair and tears (Luke 7:41). As a Pharisee Simon daily challenged himself to follow the teachings of his Church one hundred percent.
But Jesus used the example of the sinful woman to teach Simon a beautiful message: Someone who is forgiven much—-will love much! This Young Woman did not need to be challenged, because her focus was not on one hundred percent obedience; but rather on her one hundred percent forgiveness. Even through her tears you can see her smiling. Her tears were not those of pain, guilt or stress; but tears of joy, thanksgiving and devoted love!
As a Mormon I was familiar with the concept of being challenged. I felt guilty reading Jesus’ words: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). I desperately wanted to be worthy but I knew in my heart that I loved my children and husband more than I loved Jesus. Since I didn’t know how to love Jesus more, I challenged myself to worthiness by trying to keep the commandments. And the greatest challenge was putting on a smile over my pain.
It was 1994 when I learned what Jesus tried to teach Simon. That was when I heard the truth that one hundred percent of my sins were forgiven! Like a giddy young schoolgirl I fell in love with the man who took away all my guilt! The love of my life became my Savior Jesus! That was almost twenty years ago and I still love Him more than life itself, more than my husband and my children. My love for Jesus transformed me from a person who needed to be challenged to follow God’s commands—to a person who is compelled to follow them by love. Now, I would be challenged to hide my smile!
Elaine Dalton issued the challenge to be “One Hundred Percent”. She said “Can you imagine the implications that this has, if a young woman is 100 percent for 10 years, for 15 years?”
I imagine that the Young Women will dutifully say their prayers every morning and night. They will read the Book of Mormon, checking the clock to see when they have accomplished their goal. But without the knowledge that they have been one hundred percent forgiven, will they be any closer to loving Jesus? Will they be any closer to being compelled by such love?
The desire of my heart is that every Mormon hears they are “One Hundred Percent” forgiven! Can you imagine the implications if every Mormon knew this? They wouldn’t need to be “challenged” to pray and read scripture! Since Jesus would be their very best friend they would willingly pray to Him and their Father in Heaven whenever they could. They would willingly read the Bible—God’s love letters, and pour over its pages for comfort and guidance. And, they certainly would not have to be “challenged” to smile. The joy that comes from knowing you are “One Hundred Percent” forgiven, brings a sincere smile that lasts through eternity!
Click on this link to listen to a short video clip of an ex-Mormon Young Woman who discovered the joy of obedience through love: