To Women: “Doing Better Doesn’t Mean Doing More”
Excerpts from Sister Eubank and Sister Aburto’s presentation, “That We May All Sit Down in Heaven Together,” given May 3, 2018, at BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah.Sister Eubank: I know this isn’t unique to me, but sometimes I’m so pressed with everything I have to do that I often don’t even know what the priority is. I have started asking the Lord every morning, “What is one thing you want me to do today?” I’m a maximizer, and I tend to think if one thing is good then five are better and ten are best. Then I’m overwhelmed. So, I’ve calculated if I do one thing that comes through inspiration, 365 times per year for 50 years, that will be a total of 18,250 things that the Lord wanted done. He has counted on me 18,250 times, and I have tried to respond. That is no small thing! One of the greatest feelings is to know when you go to bed at night that you did the best you could that day. Offer it to the Lord: “I did my best. Will you please use my offering and augment it with the grace of Jesus Christ?” And then wake up and try again the next day. I have learned so much by doing this. I had no idea how creative the Spirit can be! Some of my “one” things have been making a phone call, teaching kids to play Yahtzee, listening to a forgetful friend tell stories I’ve already heard, and once it was taking a nap.
Learning to gain instruction from the Spirit, to know what the Lord would have you do, is so important. In President Russell M. Nelson’s Sunday morning conference talk he almost begged us to learn how to receive revelation. He said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” Gaining spiritual instruction is going to be critical to our future.Sister Aburto: It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with all that we are asked to do. My sisters, you are doing great. As President Henry B. Eyring said at the April 2017 general conference: “My purpose today is both to reassure you and to invigorate you. … Perhaps you have come to this conference … wondering whether your service has been acceptable. And at the same time, you may sense that there is more to do—perhaps much more!” (“Walk with Me”).
I want to reassure you that the Lord accepts all your efforts. The announcements in general conference about ministering in a higher and holier way weren’t necessarily asking us to do more. Our lists are already very full! But maybe we can do the right things. The simple things. The things the Lord Himself wants done.
I learned this principle some years ago. When I was working full-time out of the home, I used to make long lists of things that needed to be done on Saturday. I could never finish everything on my list. A major milestone happened when I realized I didn’t need a long list for Saturday. I started to save my Saturdays for more important family time by going shopping or doing laundry on weeknights, so I would be free. My advice from my own experience is to just pick two or three things that are realistic and let the other stuff go. Spend time having fun! Enjoy your family! Do fun things with them!
Years after that realization, I started working at home. I thought, “Now I’m going to have more time. I don’t have meetings. I don’t have to drive to work or make a lunch to take.” But I soon learned that my assumptions were not correct. Even though I tried to be disciplined in turning my computer on at 8 and turning it off at 5, I felt that I was never done! I felt that I would never get where I wanted to be by the end of each day.
One day, I realized I will never be done. My lists will never be finished. It isn’t possible. I want to tell every woman what I have learned. You don’t have to do it all, and you are never done, and you can be okay with that, and you can accept that. Do what you can each day, ask the Lord to fill in the gaps, and then a new day starts and you begin again. That is part of the beauty of being disciples of Jesus Christ—that we are never done, that there is always something else to do, and that there is always room for improvement.Sister Eubank: President Eyring said, “It’s natural to feel some inadequacy when we consider what the Lord has called us to do. In fact, if you told me that you feel perfectly capable of fulfilling your … duties, I might worry that you do not understand them. On the other hand, if you told me that you feel like giving up because the task is too far beyond your abilities, then I would want to help you understand how the Lord magnifies and strengthens [His servants] to do things they never could have done alone” (“Walk with Me”).
In Doctrine and Covenants section 64, starting with verse 29, we are both reassured and invigorated:
“Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business. …
“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64:29, 33–34).
As we seek the Lord’s will and strive to do it, we are assured that every small effort is accepted. All the Lord asks of us is a heart full of love and willingness to share that love. We’ve all made covenants to “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9), but that doesn’t mean to run ourselves ragged. Doing better doesn’t always mean doing more. And if you do just one inspired thing each day, you are nevertheless the Lord’s agent.
The Lord doesn’t do things by accident. God has a purpose to all He is doing with you. He accepts our efforts day by day. When we fail or make mistakes, Jesus’s arms are stretched out still and He will help us try again.
Try. Pray. Trust. You don’t have to do it all.