BYU Women’s Conference
The Beautiful Reality of What It Means to Be a Daughter of God


The Beautiful Reality of What It Means to Be a Daughter of God

2021 BYU Women’s Conference

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Introduction

President Bonnie H. Cordon: Sisters, what a joy it is to be here with you. We are excited to welcome so many of you who are joining virtually and those who are here in person. This small gathering actually gives us hope for larger gatherings, doesn’t it? We miss your hugs, and we’re excited for more hugs in the future.

As a presidency, we think we have been given the best topic for the entire women’s conference: “the beautiful reality of what it means to be a daughter of God.” The Young Women Theme contains the truth that applies to all of us, regardless of our age. Now, as we watch this inspiring video of the theme, we invite you to not only listen, but, sisters, take out a pen and write down the truths—maybe even just one truth—that the Spirit impresses upon your heart. What does Heavenly Father want you to know about you, His beloved daughter?

[Video]

Remembering Your Divine Identity as Women

Sister Becky Craven: Sisters, we hope you saw yourselves in that theme video. We are beloved daughters of heavenly parents.

My good friend told me a story that happened to her daughter Tiffany when she was 16 years old.

Just a few months after receiving her driver’s license, while driving home one evening from a Young Women activity, Tiffany was stopped by a police officer because of a burned-out taillight. This was the first time she had been pulled over, so you can probably imagine how extremely nervous she was! The officer asked her for her driver’s license and registration, but Tiffany had left her purse at the church. And after cleaning out the car earlier that week, she had forgotten to put the registration back in the glove box.

After several questions from the police officer and very nervous responses from Tiffany, the officer finally asked, “Do you even know who you are?”

Tiffany by then was in tears, but she responded, “Yes. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, who loves me and I love Him.”

I wish that each of us had such a knowledge of our divine identity as Tiffany. Before she could even remember to say her own given name, she first declared her identity as a daughter of God. Do we remember who we are always? Is it instinctive? Is it set in our nature?

In the Young Women Theme, we boldly declare our daughterhood of heavenly parents, for as the scriptures teach, “We are the offspring of God.”

Although the veil is currently drawn between present and past memories, I believe that eternal truths are stored within our souls.

When my parents joined the Church as a young couple, the principles and doctrines taught to them by the missionaries were familiar to them, although they were never taught in the churches they previously attended. My mother recently told me that when she learned about eternal families, it was as if a forgotten truth returned to her memory.

In the premortal council in heaven, we chose our Heavenly Father’s plan. We stood by Jesus Christ with full confidence and trust that He would do for us what He said He would do: to help us return to our heavenly home. We chose to come to earth and receive a physical body so we could eventually become like our heavenly parents.

So why is it so important for us to remember these truths? Why does it even matter? Because when we know who we are,

  • it amplifies our understanding of what we can become and gives us a standard by which to live;

  • it helps us to live our covenants and emulate Christlike characteristics;

  • it propels us to treat others as daughters and sons of God and shun divisive thoughts and behaviors;

  • we better understand our divine heritage, which gives us strength to prevail over the adversary and sustains us through the challenges of life; and

  • it gives us an eternal perspective.

I’m sure you can think of other blessings that come from knowing that you are a divine daughter of heavenly parents.

But Satan is cunning, and he presents us with distractions that cause us to forget who we are and our eternal value. In Greek mythology, we learn the story of the Trojan War and the Greeks’ very well-formulated plan to overtake and destroy the city of Troy. As most of the Greek forces pretended to retreat, a few soldiers hid inside a gigantic hollow wooden horse, which was placed outside the city gates of Troy. Thanks to some well-placed lies, the Trojans believed the horse to be a gift and dragged it into their city. Once inside the city walls, the hidden soldiers emerged from the wooden horse, opened the city gates to the Greek forces, and laid waste to Troy.

Like the Trojan horse, what deceptions and distractions does Satan place before us to minimize our identity and self-worth?

What stands in the way of reaching our divine potential? What Trojan horses do we need to unmask?

Isn’t it reassuring that in a world that diminishes—and sometimes tries to erase—eternal titles such as mother and father, female and male, we hold these identities sacred?

We must be deliberate in our efforts to internalize our identity and teach it to our rising generation.

One of our sons works with the deacons in his ward. While memorizing the Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Theme, he sometimes recited it out loud while doing various tasks around the house. One night while tucking his little girls into bed, he recorded this priceless conversation that he had with his three-year-old daughter, Lennon.

[Video]

With that experience as a catalyst to teach their daughters their true identity, he and his sweet wife intentionally began teaching them the Young Women Theme: “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents.”

It is a blessing, sisters, to know who we are. For me personally, it gives me courage to stretch beyond my natural abilities to do things I never thought I could do. It helps me stay grounded in a world with conflicting attitudes and views. And it gives me confidence to face the future with faith.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“As a Disciple of Jesus Christ”

Sister Michelle D. Craig: Good morning, my dear sisters!

We live in a world of 24-hour news feeds and conflicting messages from all sides. If we are not careful, these messages can cause us to doubt our divine nature or to forget the good news that Jesus came to share with His disciples.

This past summer I was walking on a path not far from my home, and a woman walked past me going the other direction. She looked at me—and then she looked twice. I smiled and said hello and kept walking. She called out to me after I passed, “You look really familiar; do you do the news?” I didn’t think fast enough, but I wish I would have said, “Yes! I love to talk about the good news of the gospel!”

Sisters, it is good news! We are beloved daughters of heavenly parents. God loves us, and “as a disciple of Jesus Christ, [we] strive to become like Him.” And in our striving, we are loved.

I wish we could all go to lunch and talk about what it looks like to be a disciple in your unique circumstances. We are all in different stages of life, but we are united in our desires to become more like Jesus Christ. This process of discipleship is not a checklist; it is individual, and it doesn’t happen quickly!

But let’s just start right where we are, which is always where discipleship starts. Right where we are.

Love God

When we love God with our hearts, our minds, and with all of our strength, we can do hard things.

I am learning that the Lord is more concerned with my growth as a disciple than He is about my comfort. I don’t know about you, but I really like my comfort zone! It’s, well, it’s comfortable! I remember my son writing home from his mission that while he was praying one day, he felt an impression to “leave his comfort zone and get into the Comforter’s zone.” That is a profound thought.

If we want to be disciples, we will certainly be asked to do some things that are hard, some things that take us beyond ourselves and right into the “Comforter’s zone.”

These things don’t have to be big and flashy things; they will most often be small things, but we can do them with great love. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Even if we are weak and flawed, this is a path open to all disciples.

Love Others

Let me give you an example of great love.

My daughter has a good friend whose mother was battling cancer. As a last resort, this woman and her husband flew to China to receive treatments (this was before the COVID-19 outbreak).

Some sweet Chinese sisters who lived in a distant branch of the Church heard they had a Relief Society sister from America who was suffering. They sprang into action. Rather than waiting for an official assignment or a sign-up sheet to be passed around, these sisters followed a prompting to serve—a prompting that was probably a bit uncomfortable. They traveled for hours on buses to visit a sister—a sister who did not speak their language but who could surely understand their love. These sisters did what they could to bring comfort; they rubbed her feet with oils. And they came day after day until Sister Reilly passed.

[Video]

This is one example of what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, who taught us that He came to earth to serve others. These women served with great love.

Disciples can show this great love in small acts: by opening your home and your heart to one who might be wandering, by loving others you work with—whether that work is changing diapers or changing minds. Discipleship looks like not suppressing a generous thought. It looks like accepting Church callings that overwhelm or underwhelm and paying a full tithe when there is more month than money. It is trusting God and His timing when you find yourself in a waiting place. It is an awareness that though our circumstances may not change, our characters can, our hearts can—and in the end, that is all that really matters.

We Are Loved

And finally, as disciples of Jesus Christ we know that we are loved, and we know that sometimes it is okay to feel broken, because we worship One who will make us whole.

Jesus Christ heals broken things. We are all broken in some way—broken hearts, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken minds—and that is okay. Jesus Christ welcomes us in our brokenness and in our desire to become His disciples. Perhaps that is one reason He retains the marks of His wounds, even after His Resurrection—to remind us of the wounds He bore for us and the promise that He will heal ours. He is the Master Healer. He extends His grace in abundance, allowing us to heal, allowing our capacity to be enlarged and our shoulders strengthened to carry the burdens placed upon them. His grace heals, and we can be better and stronger because we come broken to our Savior and our Redeemer. Because we are loved.

As women of covenant living today, I am sure that Jesus would say to us as He said to the faithful when He visited the Americas, “Ye are my disciples, and ye are a light unto this people.”

Sisters, we are beloved daughters, we are disciples, and we are to be witnesses of His love—and that is glorious. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“Stand as a Witness of God”

President Cordon: Thank you, Sister Craig and Sister Craven. You can tell I love learning from those sisters.

Sisters, there is a comforting power that comes as we understand our identity and purpose as covenant women of God. Now, let’s just talk for a minute about the miracles that can occur as we let that deep, divine understanding shine from ourselves to others—that invitation and covenant to stand as a witness of God.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when “witnessing” feels a little daunting. Do I know enough? Do I have the right words? My life feels a little messy to be an example for anyone.

As I ponder this, I think of an experience one morning, not long ago. I found myself at my office before dawn. The dark sky seemed to emphasize the chaos and construction happening around the Salt Lake Temple. As I stood there focused on the broken, messy, and damaged rubble, the stillness of the early hours brought peace to my soul, and my focus shifted upward. A quiet thought filled my mind: “the light is still shining!” The temple’s structure may be in disarray for now, but the beacon of the temple is no less effective. In fact, to me it stands as a powerful message due to its current imperfection while in the process of being improved and fortified.

Sisters, we may personally feel like we are under construction—like the chaos and debris of our life is on display for all to see—but your light is still shining! Our source of light, our Savior, is unwavering! The bits and pieces strewn about—the evidence of your personal renovation—make you unique, interesting, resilient, and beautiful! They are evidence of our efforts to strengthen our faith. As Captain Moroni said of his people, “The Lord is with us. … Because of our … faith in Christ. … [And] ye cannot destroy this our faith.”

I love that even in the midst of our mortal remodel, the Lord asks us to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” He doesn’t give us any qualifiers. He doesn’t say when the house is clean, when the children are at their angelic best, or when work finally calms down. He asks us to witness of Him now, while we are in our “muddled, mortal middle.”

Think about this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell. It gives us increased vision of our important mission as a witness. He said, “The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well.”

Let me share a story of someone who let her light shine and stood as a witness in the middle of a personal remodel—a change in work assignment.

When Lori received this new responsibility at work, she altered her daily routine. She admitted that “whether for dietary or emotional reasons,” she went to Chick-Fil-A every single day for lunch. She became acquainted with many of the employees and felt drawn to a server named Melissa. Melissa was delightful, and she had one of those laughs that was a burst of joy. Lori and Melissa quickly connected. What they didn’t know was that the Lord had something much more in mind.

There are times when our life briefly intersects with others, and the impact can be sincere but fleeting. Then there are times when the Lord opens our hearts and makes room for one more person to find a lasting place in our lives. When that connection includes our Savior, it is a portion of divinity that changes us forever.

Even with all that was going on in Lori’s life, she felt the prompting to make room for a new friend. She soon learned that Melissa had grown up in the Church but had started making choices in her teenage years that had taken her away. At Lori’s invitation, Melissa agreed to go to sacrament meeting after 20 years of being away.

What came next was a series of small but meaningful steps as these new friends walked the covenant path together. Melissa started attending church. She and Lori studied the Book of Mormon together. Despite many roadblocks and trials, they pressed forward with faith in Jesus Christ. Melissa took the sacrament again and paid her tithing. She even had the chance to teach Relief Society. After a two-year journey of faith, Lori had the privilege of standing by Melissa’s side as her escort when she entered the temple for the first time. From a chance meeting over a lunch order to the house of the Lord, that miraculous day is one of those mortal moments that forever carries a heavenly spotlight for these two faithful women. They share a steadfast witness of the Savior’s healing power and a renewed conviction of our Father’s love for His children!

Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.” Don’t we love President Nelson’s simple clarity? Standing as a witness of Christ is part of the gathering. This is the work and glory of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, and by covenant it is our work and our glory!

Admittedly, that part in the Lord’s invitation about “all times,” “all things,” and “all places” can be very overwhelming. We won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. But we can strive, and, thankfully, we can repent as needed. Let me share a personal tutoring example.

Now, I will admit that I often move “with haste” from one thing to another, just minutes to spare before being late. It was one of those days in Brazil when my husband and I were serving as mission leaders. We had a mission conference and had stopped by a local grocery store to grab some drinks for the missionaries who were attending. There we were in the checkout line with 85 cans of soda. Our cashier appeared to be new. She picked up the first can of soda, carefully scanned it, and set it down softly enough to preserve every bubble of carbonation. She then picked up the next soda and the next, slowly repeating the process. My mind was screaming, “Are you kidding me?!” But I was so proud that not a single murmur escaped my lips. I had my missionary tag on, after all. It was then that my husband’s hand tapped my arm, and he raised his eyebrows, as he does so well. “What?” I hadn’t said anything! “Your eyes said it all,” he quietly responded.

Perhaps this is, in part, what is meant by that sacred promise to “always remember Him”—reflecting the love of our Savior not only through our words but our eyes. Witnessing includes how we see people, treat them, and help them.

Sisters, we have countless opportunities to witness. With our ever-present phones, our thumbs can text a witness. Think of it as a “textimony” or a chance to “textify.” Here is one example:

You: “Hello, my friend, you’ve been on my mind today. How are you?

Friend: Good. Maybe a little stressed.

You: Can I help? I love you! I felt a nudge from the Spirit to remind you that Heavenly Father loves you. Please know you are in my prayers!

The Lord asks us to be a light, to be a witness. We can do this because we do not do it alone. The lives of those around us are precious to our Heavenly Father. He invites us to link our hearts with His and treat all with love—His love.

The Lord has called us to “rise, and stand upon thy feet … to make thee a minister and a witness. … To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” It is more than just kindness. I think of it as kindness in Christ—that power that comes when your goodness is combined with the promise of exaltation through our merciful and loving Savior.

My beloved friends, no matter the rubble that may surround your feet, no matter the mess you feel you are in, look up and know that the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shines through you for those around you. The Lord’s light is more than enough. You are enough. Stand tall and shine on.

As we close, we have a gift for you from our presidency and the BYU Cougarettes as a reminder that there is a purpose within each one of us, unique and beautiful. We are beloved daughters of heavenly parents. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. We stand as a witness of God. Together we will be like a symphony—a rich and enveloping melody that reminds us of our divine identity and purpose as covenant women. Sisters, never forget that alone we are not enough, but because of our divine and supernal Savior, Jesus Christ, we are glorious.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.