Often when we’re young, we equate power with celebrity and fame—how many people know who you are. So I guess it shouldn’t have caught me off guard when my tween daughter said, “What good is getting an education? You don’t use yours! You just stay home and take care of kids.” Her point was this: You don’t do anything important because you stay at home. We had a talk about how I got my education for myself, and how I use it every day in myriad ways. But our conversation got me thinking about the most influential women in my life, and what I learned from them. I realized that she is wondering what she will contribute to the world, and if she’ll be enough. She wants to know that she matters, and that she can make a difference. So this is to my sweet, shy daughter, LMK (who would never speak to me again if I used her name), and what I want her to know about the power of women—especially those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church).
- Power comes from our faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The first thing I want her to know is that there is great power in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is not just to believe in Jesus Christ, it is also showing that we believe Him by obeying His commandments. The Savior taught that if we have faith as a mustard seed, we could move mountains (Matthew 17:20). More importantly, if we have faith in Jesus Christ it can change our lives—and our hearts. Faith is a defining character of Disciples of Christ. From ancient times, women of faith have seen and experienced miracles. The widow of Zarephath is an example of a faithful follower of Christ. There is a famine in the land, and the people are starving. The Lord commands Elijah the prophet to go to Zarephath, saying, “There I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (1 Kings 17:9). Elijah arrives at the city and finds the widow woman, asking her to bring him some water and a morsel of bread. The woman replies that she has only a handful of meal and a little oil, and she is on her way to make a final meal for herself and her son before they perish (1 Kings 17:10-12). Elijah tells her,
Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth (1 Kings 17:13-14).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ), said:
Then this understated expression of faith—as great, under these circumstances, as any I know in the scriptures. The record says simply, “And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah.” Perhaps uncertain what the cost of her faith would be not only to herself but to her son as well, she first took her small loaf to Elijah, obviously trusting that if there were not enough bread left over, at least she and her son would have died in an act of pure charity. The story goes on, of course, to a very happy ending for her and for her son.
This woman is like another widow whom Christ admired so much—she who cast her farthing, her two mites, into the synagogue treasury and thereby gave more, Jesus said, than all others who had given that day.
Unfortunately, the names of these two women are not recorded in the scriptures, but if I am ever so privileged in the eternities to meet them, I would like to fall at their feet and say “Thank you.” Thank you for the beauty of your lives, for the wonder of your example, for the godly spirit within you prompting such “charity out of a pure heart.” 
These women are not known for the letters behind their names, but for the strength of faith that they showed when times got tough. It is this power that can get us through anything—because it is power beyond our own. Faith helps us access the help of the heavens in our times of need. It is the power to move the spiritual mountains in our lives. Or, rather, it is the power to climb the spiritual mountains in our lives and reach the other side.
Your contribution to the Church and the world are based on who you are—not whether you hold the priesthood.
I think there comes a time in the life of almost every woman who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ when she wonders if her role is really that important because she will not be ordained to the priesthood (which is the power that God gives to man to act in all things for the salvation of His children). I wondered that when I was younger, so it wasn’t really surprising that my daughter does now. But I love what Elder Neil L. Andersen, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:
We sometimes overly associate the power of the priesthood with men in the Church. The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all—men, women, and children.
A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift. 
And all those who keep the commandments of God are entitled to the blessings of the priesthood. Elder Andersen continued:
To receive the blessings, power, and promises of the priesthood in this life and the next is one of the great opportunities and responsibilities of mortality. As we are worthy, the ordinances of the priesthood enrich our lives on earth and prepare us for the magnificent promises of the world ahead. The Lord said, “In the ordinances … the power of godliness is manifest.”
There are special blessings from God for every worthy person who is baptized, receives the Holy Ghost, and regularly partakes of the sacrament. The temple brings added light and strength, along with the promise of eternal life.
All of the ordinances invite us to increase our faith in Jesus Christ and to make and keep covenants with God. As we keep these sacred covenants, we receive priesthood power and blessings. 
Women are not ordained to the priesthood, but they have as much access to the blessings of the priesthood as the men. Women are not less because they are not ordained to the priesthood. This is one important concept that I want my daughter to understand. Elder Quentin L. Cook, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:
God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.
A recent United States study asserts that women of all faiths “believe more fervently in God” and attend more religious services than men do. “By virtually every measure they are more religious.”
I was not surprised by this result, particularly as I reflected on the preeminent role of families and women in our faith. Our doctrine is clear: Women are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Wives are equal to their husbands. Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family. …
Much of what we accomplish in the Church is due to the selfless service of women. Whether in the Church or in the home, it is a beautiful thing to see the priesthood and the Relief Society work in perfect harmony. Such a relationship is like a well-tuned orchestra, and the resulting symphony inspires all of us. 
Our contribution to the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ is based on who we are. And who we are is based on all of our life experiences, as well as our choices and our education. When we work together—as men and women, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters—we can accomplish much good in our home, in The Church of Jesus Christ and in the world.
Women have complementary roles.
Women are given the gift of bearing children. And make no mistake, this is truly a divine gift. Women enter into a partnership with God as they carry and bear children. My husband is the father of our children, but he did not have the opportunity to carry a new life for nine months— feeling the child move for the first time, having a little companion with you and knowing that this child is fully dependent on you for life. It is an amazing experience, and one that my husband only shared—he didn’t get to experience it on his own. That doesn’t diminish his contribution; his contribution was just different. In a tribute to mothers, Elder Holland said:
Mothers, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are, better than you are, and better than you have ever been. … Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you. 
Mothers matter to their children. I took my mother for granted…until she went back to work outside the home when I was 13. It was just for a short time, but I remember coming home from school to an empty house—empty because my mom wasn’t there. I cried the first time she wasn’t there. I was so glad when my parents decided that my mom needed to come back home. My mom went back to work last year, and even as an adult a little part of me was mad because I knew that my access to her would be more limited. She lives thousands of miles away, but I still need her to be there for me. I know my siblings feel the same way. That is the power that mothers hold for their children.
Sacrifice is its own reward.
The power of sacrifice in our lives cannot be understated. A line in one of my favorite hymns states: “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven” (Hymns #27, “Praise to the Man”). This is another principle I want my daughter to understand. We don’t give things up just for fun—we give things up because it’s right. And when we do so without complaint, we are blessed. I quit working outside the home after I had kids. It was important to me and to my husband that we be the ones raising our children. I didn’t want my kids being raised by a daycare or a nanny. That was a choice I made—and one that I have never regretted. The law of sacrifice is a divine law. Sometimes the sacrifice is easy, sometimes it’s not. But it is always worth it. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:
Many Christians have voluntarily given sacrifices motivated by faith in Christ and the desire to serve Him. Some have chosen to devote their entire adult lives to the service of the Master. This noble group includes those in the religious orders of the Catholic Church and those who have given lifelong service as Christian missionaries in various Protestant faiths. Their examples are challenging and inspiring, but most believers in Christ are neither expected nor able to devote their entire lives to religious service.
For most followers of Christ, our sacrifices involve what we can do on a day-to-day basis in our ordinary personal lives. … Today the most visible strength of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the unselfish service and sacrifice of its members. Prior to the rededication of one of our temples, a Christian minister asked [the late] President Gordon B. Hinckley why it did not contain any representation of the cross, the most common symbol of the Christian faith. President Hinckley replied that the symbols of our Christian faith are “the lives of our people.” Truly, our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen. 
The service to our fellowmen includes the work we do in the home as well as outside of it. When we reach out to others, we are serving them. One of the things that I enjoy doing is volunteering in my children’s classrooms. It’s just a couple of hours a month, but it means a lot to my children. It also helps out the teachers. And I have fun getting to know the kids in the classroom. Just a little act of service can make a big difference.
You don’t have to be famous to be important in the world.
The final thing I want my daughter to know is that you don’t have to be famous to be important in the world. The most influential women in my life have never graced the pages of a history book. Their names have never appeared in any newspaper, and the world wouldn’t know their names if they were—my mother and grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Also included are the many teachers in the youth organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ who loved me, and made sure that I knew it. I had one teacher who recognized that the work that I did for my family outside her class adversely impacted what happened in her class. But she recognized that I was doing the best I knew how—and honored me for it. It had never occurred to me that I was doing service for my family, and I had no idea that anyone ever noticed. I am still humbled at the love these women showed me, and their efforts resonate with me still to this day.
My kids make me feel important when they need and want me around—when my 13-year-old asks for my help in getting ready for Scout camp. Or my 9-year-old wants me to go to her game. Or my 6-year-old wants me to play a game with him. And I feel important when LMK, my almost-12-year-old, wants me to go to the first day of Girls Camp (a camp sponsored by the local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ for girls ages 12-18) and spend the night so that she can sleep with me in a tent. All of my education, experiences and sacrifices are worth moments like these. That is the power that women hold—the power to change the world, one child at a time.