“Healing Attitudes,” Ensign, Mar. 1984, 32
My conversion to Relief Society came late. When I was baptized in 1960, I felt that my Sunday attendance, responsibility as M-Men-Gleaner leader, and obligation to get our four small children to Primary was all I could handle, since my husband’s work kept him away from home roughly half the time. However, when we moved to the 78-member Dover Branch four years later, it was obvious that my support and efforts were truly needed, and through attendance I found out what treasures I had been missing. But still, I was less than enthusiastic about Homemaking Day—those projects just did not match my talents or inclinations. Although I supported them, it was with some unspoken reluctance, quite different from my whole-hearted participation in other aspects of Relief Society.
I was flabbergasted, then, when in 1973 my stake president told me that the Lord wanted me as Relief Society President of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Stake. I had prayerfully agreed with Heavenly Father before the interview that I would say yes, no matter what the calling, but my “heart was far from it.” “This proves that the Lord has a sense of humor,” I told myself, but it was no joke to be responsible for so many dear sisters. The Lord provided me with radiant counselors, and we had some memorable spiritual experiences completing our staffing.
However, whenever someone called me “President Barrett,” I would break out in a sweat. I still had negative feelings about some aspects of Relief Society and lived in the fear that stake leaders would drop in for a visit some day, for my house reflected my priorities of putting my “home” first and my “house” casually somewhere further down the list. Obviously, that attitude was beginning to affect my service, and I took the problem to Heavenly Father many times in earnest prayer. I fasted and reread my patriarchal blessing frequently, wondering why it hadn’t warned me about this.
One day, as I drove the 75 miles to the stake center alone, I began to pray aloud in the car. I realized that I needed a healing of my mind, that my negative attitude made me unworthy to serve. Weeping and praying, I asked the Lord to either heal me or release me so that the work would not suffer further. Suddenly, the Spirit touched my mind, gently and lovingly, and smoothed away that wrinkle of confusion. I knew that I was needed, and that was all that mattered. I also knew that the Lord need not confine his blessings to those he mentions in our patriarchal blessings, because there is no limit on his ability, and someday there’ll be no limit on ours.
In the nearly five years that I served, I had many spiritual experiences, but none more precious than the testimony I gained that day: God can heal anything—our prejudices, our bad habits, and our minds, bodies, and spirits. Louanne Brown Barrett, Dover, Delaware