The Cumulative Effect of Faithful Women

Julie B. Beck, the General President of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at a meeting of 1200 women in Minneapolis on Saturday. The experience filled me. The woman who closed the meeting in prayer expressed our gratitude to be “gathered in love.”

That phrase flew through my mind. Yes, we gathered in the love of God, his gospel and a desire to love him better. As a result, we felt more love for one another and renewed our capacity to love our families more.

At the end, she invited three women to stand and tell what they learned that they would take home to use. I didn’t volunteer, but if I had, I would note the phrase she spoke several times in the informal question and answer session—cumulative effect.

She challenged us to pray and spend some time in the scriptures every day. The amount of time is up to us and depends on the day, but she said, just “give it a little something every day.”  She promised that the cumulative effect of that will bear fruit like a tender plant.

She taught us to persevere in our relationships with our families. She said that everyone has some sort of battle in this life, but that doesn’t change the plan of salvation. We can help each other overcome these challenges in our families by using the principles of a successful family—faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion. She said, “Practice and perfect these principles the best you can.”

She encouraged us to not “pour on the guilt” over our mistakes but to have remorse when we don’t do so well and look to the atonement of Jesus Christ. She reminded us to see ourselves as a work in progress and focus on the cumulative effect of what we’ve accomplished over time. She testified that Jesus Christ has the power to redeem us and taught us a way to know if the atonement is working in our lives. She said, “Look back 10 years and ask yourself, ‘Am I different? Am I better?’ If you can answer yes, it’s working.”

My personal take home message: Trust that the cumulative effect of my efforts as a woman striving to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, strengthen my family and serve others will bear fruit in time, even if I cannot see the results today.

After a summer of hands-on loving and giving and growing, my lamp had grown dim and my oil stores were empty. To be “gathered in love” with other women of faith had a “cumulative effect” on my spirit. Now, I feel hope, optimism and renewed faith.

Like one of the five wise virgins  from the parable in the New Testament, though, I’m still seeking oil for my vessel to prepare for whatever awaits. With more inspired gatherings, like the General Relief Society Meeting on Saturday, Sept 26, and the General Conference of the LDS Church on Oct 3 and 4, I’m sure I will accumulate more than enough for the cold months ahead.

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