Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Emphasize Divine Worth

The second official objective of the Relief Society is to "emphasize the divine worth of each sister." The first thing that comes to mind is visiting teaching. While I may not be the model of a perfect visiting teacher, I think it is a divinely-inspired program. It makes the statement that every woman is worth visiting. Every woman is worth being looked after. Every woman is worth the time, the effort, the thought. I have had both fabulous and awful visiting teaching experiences. I have been both fabulous and awful as a visiting teacher. But when it functions properly, visiting teaching helps emphasize the divine worth of each sister. (Are we not all motivated to do our visiting teaching this month?)
For some reason, emphasizing the divine worth of each sister is necessary in that an often correct stereotype of women is to feel decidedly un-divine. But I do think the Relief Society is trying to combat this. I recall a few Women's Conferences ago the talks focusing on our divine worth (does anyone have a link to any specific talks? I can't seem to find one). And I also feel the Young Women's program did a great job at preparing me for womanhood (and Relief Society) by drilling my divine worth -- among other values -- into my head.
How do you think Relief Society performs at emphasizing the divine worth of each sister? In what ways could the Relief Society, as an organization, do better? In what ways could you do better at helping your fellow sisters appreciated and realize their divine worth?


Alexandra said...

Another example of how I seem to miss basic things: There are official objectives of the Relief Society? Where can I find these?

Wow, I love this topic Court! When we talk about each other's divine worth I feel like I'm walking in a rich, lush garden from a Henry James' novel, like the potential for beauty and creation and joy and goodness are limitless!

So I have lots of thoughts. We encourage the expression of each other's divine nature by creating opportunities for us to develop our divine attributes - by composing our friendships with moments of loving each other, teaching each other, creating beauty and meaning together, etc. If our conversations and our activities help us develop into more divine beings - and for me this is as broad as spending hours cooking and eating, having a long conversation about books, working out together, etc - and then we express our gratitude to each other for our friendships like this, I think we reconfirm both our friends' divinity and our own divinity. And I think this is lovely because instead of talking about divine potential as some far-off abstract concept, we appreciate our beautiful lives in their quotidian progression.

Also, we realize how radically individual our divine worth is. The specifics of how I develop as a divine woman are probably entirely different from your specifics - and so we each have the responsibility to never judge whether there are more legitimate lifestyles/actions that encourage our divine worth, ie, teaching at university, scrapbooking, our family arrangements etc. Because we are each so radically different from each other in our individual experiences of living life, we can't presume to judge the validity of how other people live their lives - and this radical difference may seem like it renders us unknowable to each other, BUT the miracle is that through the expression of divine attributes - love, for example - we not only further realize our own divinity, but we enter into a discourse in which we can all always communicate! It's amazing, really. Our divine worth is realized in radically different ways and at the same time these attributes are what enable us to communicate in a meaningful way.

Ok, wait, I've been having a long conversation with myself in my head about this topic -but I exams tomorrow so I will write more later this week. I love this topic!

Monica said...

Helpful links:

1. The Relief Society Declaration:

2. The Purpose of Relief Society

Lindsay said...

What inspirational posts and comments! I read these things this morning and have been reflecting on them all day.
Here are a few comments:
1-I love visiting teaching when it is done correctly - meaning, when two people who really care about me come over, listen to how I'm doing, laugh with me and then share a message that draws me closer to Jesus.
(I love Julie Beck's comments about the name Relief Society and how if we focus on the Relief, we will inherently develop a Society - but if we focus on the Society/social aspect, we may never administer Relief. Haven't we all had experiences where our visiting teachers came over and didn't really share any spiritual sustenance? The social aspect is great - but the RELIEF which comes from the Spirit is much more important.)
Anyway #2- I don't think relief societies should change partnerships/routes very often. In my last ward, my route was changed every couple of months, and I couldn't ever really develop a relationship of trust/meaning in such a short time! I remember one month I had a new assignment (again) and during that first month, the girl I was assigned to lost her pregnancy at 8 months. I showed up on her front door as her 'visiting teacher', but she didn't know me from Eve! I like when I have the same assignment for years on end - so when something devastating happens, I have a history with the person and I know better what would help them.

#3-Speaking of divine worth - I love what Alexandra had to say about us all having 'radically individual' divinity. :) I think it's important not to compare our different divine qualities with one another. So many women compare themselves with one another (ummmm...unfortunately myself included). It's one thing to rejoice in each other's successes and strengths - but it gets ugly when we start feeling like just because someone else had a certain success or joy - that we need to have the same thing in our lives.
For example - consider questions like these...
"When did your child learn to speak?" "When were you back in your pre-pregnancy clothes?" "You learned to play the piano when you were how old?" "You're taking HOW many credits?" "You're raising 500 children and working two full time jobs??" "You can speak how many languages??"
Of course we don't want to judge and look down at others - but I think we should be careful not to look UP at others either.
Anyway - part of divine worth is realizing that we all have different aspects of divinity within us. I need to work on having my conversations stop with simply rejoicing in others strengths/divinity - and to not let it drift into the realm of comparisons.

#4- What if whenever we spoke with someone, we made a point of noticing what made them simply divine?? ...When we went to visit teach each month, pointing out some quality we thought made them unique and amazing...
I think I'll take this little challenge. :)