“Renewing Your Spiritual Energy,” Tambuli, Mar. 1992, 43
Phyllis Peterson of Lindon, Utah, once mentioned to a friend that her children seemed to quarrel all day while they were with her. “Maybe the problem is me,” she said—and her words hit like lightning.
As she thought about areas she could improve in her life, Sister Peterson recalled a statement by President Marion G. Romney, who served as a counselor in the First Presidency. He said that if parents would read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, the spirit of contention would depart from their homes. (See Ensign, May 1980, p. 67.) Although the Petersons had been reading the scriptures as a family, Sister Peterson had let her personal study slide. “I determined then to change,” she says. “And within a week, the children started getting along better. Why? I found that I was calm and could better reason with them.”
Like Sister Peterson, Latter-day Saint women the world over say their lives go more smoothly when their spiritual energy is high. But how does a woman build spiritual reserves when she has so many other demands on her time?
“I have discovered that you don’t ‘find time’ for anything,” says Janet E. Buck of Loveland, Colorado. “You make time. This is especially true of spiritual nourishment. Often we do not recognize our spiritual hunger pangs for what they really are. We give them other labels: discouragement, depression, anger, resentment, loneliness, self-pity. Yet these can all be indications of spiritual starvation.”
Karen Freeman of Colesville, Maryland, agrees. “Finding time for spiritual growth in my life is not much different from finding time for other activities. I just put it on the list, right along with trimming the shrubs and making phone calls.”
Many women find that they must simplify their lives and make their expectations more realistic. “When I was an athlete running for distance, I learned that I must go slower and take longer but fewer steps if I wanted to make it to the finish line,” says Toni Thomas of Santee, California. “I have applied this principle to my life by doing less, but improving the quality of each action. I now read fewer scriptures, but ponder them more; we have fewer extracurricular activities for the children, but teach them to excel and focus on those few. I adjust my temporal desires so that they do not smother my spiritual needs.”
“We have no qualms about scheduling our lives to accommodate our family’s obligations of lessons, meals, meetings—or even our own obligations,” says Louise Brown of Logan, Utah. “But we would sooner excuse ourselves from an activity by saying ‘I have an appointment’ than by saying ‘That’s the hour I have set aside to spend on myself.’ We need to see ourselves as deserving (and needing) solitude and regeneration to replace the energy we so freely give away.”
To ensure that she makes herself a priority, Marilee P. Gallacher of Gilbert, Arizona, schedules time for herself in her planning calendar each day. Annette S. Hill of Missoula, Montana, finds that taking a three-hour block of time once a week works better for her, even though it means that she has to set some tasks aside until later and that some things simply don’t get done. In addition to reading the scriptures daily, she visits museums, reads, walks, sleeps, does needlework, talks with friends, works on family history, and practices the piano during the time she sets aside each week.
“The best place to find spiritual renewal is at the source—and prayer is the key,” says Janet Lammers of London, Ontario, Canada. “It is a flexible ‘anywhere, anytime’ tool that needs only a sincere heart to make it work.”
“Isn’t it wonderful how Heavenly Father knows if we will need help with patience on one day, physical strength on another day, and maybe just peace of mind on another?” asks Jennifer Sant of Sandy, Utah. Sister Sant has found that she must pray every night and morning to receive the guidance she needs in rearing her children. And if she needs answers from Heavenly Father right away, she has her children quietly join with her in prayer.
Keeping a prayer in your heart throughout the day is essential, too. “I was frustrated when I began spending less and less time drawing close to Heavenly Father because I was on call to my family twenty-four hours a day,” recalls Carol Tuttle of Danville, California. “But surely Heavenly Father knew each day was chopped up into small chunks of time. Maybe he could teach me in the middle of the lively events of my days! The Savior taught Peter out in a boat, and he instructed the two men on the road to Emmaus as they walked. Wouldn’t Heavenly Father do the same with me? I could talk to him while I folded clean laundry, peeled carrots, or drove the car. He could help me as I rocked a crying child or soothed a pain.”
“As I found myself getting lost in the mass of priorities, I turned to my Father in Heaven for help,” says Eva Laurent of Elk Grove, California, a single mother of six children. “What I wanted was actual physical help—another pair of hands, a strong back, a cognitive mind. What he sent me was a message: Read the Book of Mormon every day. What that book has opened up to me I still find amazing.”
When we consistently study the scriptures, it can change not only our perspective, but also the way we deal with problems. At the end of an especially tiring day, Susan Wyman of Canton, Georgia, was preparing dinner while balancing her baby on her hip and trying to entertain her active three-year-old. In the midst of the confusion, her toddler pulled a carton off the counter, splattering eggs all over the newly scrubbed floor. Sister Wyman says her normal reaction would have been anger—but this time she noticed the shock and remorse on her son’s face. She knew that he had not made the mess intentionally. She was able to calmly clean up and cope with his awkward attempts to help.
“Even as I did this,” she remembers, “I wondered where my patience had come from. The Spirit let me know that it was because I had risen that morning and studied the scriptures.”
But how do busy women study? Lori R. Gibbs of Corvallis, Oregon, has a goal to read from the scriptures every day. On some days she reads a chapter or more, on others just a verse or two. But as she continues, her spirituality and thirst for knowledge increase—and that greater desire has helped her “find” time to study the gospel.
Other women read for a few minutes each day. “Missing ten to fifteen minutes of sleep in a twenty-four hour period isn’t going to make much difference in my physical well-being, but it can make a world of difference in my spiritual well-being if I spend it in study,” says Lisa Newman of Salt Lake City, Utah. “Those minutes make me a more cheerful and patient wife and mother.”
“In reviewing my own life,” says Geneva Smith of Tacoma, Washington, “I find that the spiritual experiences are not planned. They come unexpectedly while I am serving family, Church, and community.” When she was assigned to visit teach a sister who had cancer, Sister Smith sat with her in the hospital every other day for six weeks. “I thought I knew and loved this sister already, but I soon realized I had only begun to really know her,” Sister Smith remembers. “As I massaged her legs, combed her hair, and bathed her pain-wracked body, I began to really love this sister. As I gave of myself, my cup was filled to overflowing.”
Janet MacLennan of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, agrees. “As I give time to a neighbor or to a ward sister and really listen as she shares a hurt or concern, I am more able to ‘see as the Lord seeth,’ and I receive an outpouring of Christlike love which, to me, is the greatest spiritual reserve one can have.”
“Visiting teaching is the key to my spirituality,” reports Debbie Osborn of Anchorage, Alaska. “It gives me the opportunity to be spiritually tuned in toward another’s welfare—and I can do that only by growing myself. Even though I use the monthly visiting teaching message, I do not give exactly the same lesson to any of the women I visit, so I have to think about them day after day during the month to sense what they really need.”
Learning to rely on the Lord in Church callings can bring the Spirit in abundance. Rachel Murdock, a Primary president in American Fork, Utah, found that when she needed to recommend someone to fill a vacant position in the Primary, she often simply submitted the name of the person who had most recently been released from a calling in another organization or who had just moved into the ward. But now she prays about each calling. “I don’t know that the results have been any different,” she says, “but I have given myself the opportunity to receive confirmation from the Spirit that the choice is acceptable to Heavenly Father.”
“Being a Primary worker has helped to bring me spiritual strength,” says Joan W. Katz of Chino, California. “I have developed a sincere desire to teach the children the gospel. So I started to read the next week’s lesson on Sunday evenings, and sometimes practice on my family during home evening. My testimony has grown as I have taught the gospel’s simple truths to God’s children.”
“As I mature, I realize that a strong bond exists between our bodies and our spirits,” says Mary Ellen Flake of Gilbert, Arizona. “If the body isn’t working well, it is all the more difficult for the spirit to rule over it.”
When a doctor advised Kay Salveson of Nibley, Utah, to exercise as a treatment for her frequent stress headaches, she couldn’t imagine how she would be able to do it with little time or money. In desperation, she got an old stationary bike and pedaled while her children watched television. It worked. Now Sister Salveson takes brisk walks for exercise. “As I take in the view, I am uplifted by the magical changing seasons and I am humbled by God’s beautiful creations surrounding me, which seem to put everything back into perspective,” she says. “Some people say they walk off pounds. That is true—but I also walk off problems and discouragement.”
“The more I review my daily activities, the more I realize that I need to attune my spiritual eyes and ears to the experiences of everyday life,” says Marion Allen of Southampton, England. “Spiritual strength can be nurtured in almost any environment.”
In spite of the obstacles, Latter-day Saint women agree that making time to grow spiritually is worth the effort. “By taking extra minutes to do things in relation to the teachings of Jesus Christ, I find the strength to get through the daily trials—and even the occasional more difficult ones,” says Barbara Stockwell of Springfield, Oregon. “As I continue to turn to the Lord, each problem becomes a little easier to face because my faith becomes stronger.”
A woman who is trying to nurture herself spiritually needs help from others—particularly her family. “Perhaps many families need to reconsider the role of the woman in the home,” says Janene Hansen of Gresham, Oregon. “If everyone helps around the house, I have time to do something other than dishes.”
Spending time with a spouse in spiritual pursuits is also helpful. Sherielee Quilter and her husband, Karl, of Salt Lake City, walk and talk about their feelings and ideas each night. Other couples set aside time to read the scriptures or books like Jesus the Christ.
Women can also encourage each other’s growth. Melanee Webster of Cheshire, Connecticut, and four of her friends decided to study the Book of Mormon together. Each week they read seven chapters, then meet on Wednesday for a discussion.
A group of sister in the Las Vegas Morning Sun Ward exchange baby-sitting and take turns getting away during the day. “Sometimes you can get a spiritual boost just knowing you have helped another sister refill her well,” says ward member Tami L. Bradley.
“We need to spend more time fellowshipping with other sisters,” says Ruth Roberts of Atlanta, Georgia. “Several weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed, so I called a friend and asked if I could come over. We ended up talking, laughing, and crying for more than three hours. What a spiritual uplift! If you talk with other sisters, you realize you’re not alone in your feelings and problems.”