Saturday, January 17, 2009

Things that Sister Beck maybe said (and maybe didn't)

Last night was stake Enrichment night, and our guest speaker was Sister Julie B. Beck, General R. S. President. Before she spoke, our stake leadership read a letter (you may have heard it) from the General Presidency reminding us that things General Authorities say in individual meetings (such as the one we were in) were for the benefit of the attendees only, and that notes we take were for our own use and not to be circulated over the internet or in other ways to other people.

So in sharing some thoughts and quotes here I’m probably doing exactly what they don’t want me to do. But I think it’s probably OK as long as we all understand that the following is DARLENE’S TRANSLATION OF and RESPONSES TO A TALK BY SISTER JULIE B. BECK, not to be taken as literally Sister Beck’s words. Because maybe I heard it wrong, wrote it wrong, or simply was existing in another universe completely while she was speaking. Got it? OK. Here goes.

Sister Beck spoke for a few minutes, then opened up the meeting to questions. Here are two questions I wanted to ask but didn’t:

“I have friends who are getting a little panicky about the inevitable (as they see it) upcoming collapse of the economy. Some even feel that in the last General Conference, the GA’s were warning about it in sort of veiled terms. I didn’t get that message at all and feel like we should just keep on diligently towards the goals the GA’s have always been recommending: get a year’s supply, get out of debt, have an emergency savings account. Is this something the RS presidency is concerned about? Have you heard anything from the GA’s about it? And what is your suggestion for maintaining hope and peace during this time?”


“In your first talk in General Conference, you mentioned that we LDS women should be the best homemakers in the world. I know women who have really struggled with this, feeling like, ‘Gee, it’s hard enough to get the dishes washed each night, and now you’re telling me my house has to be the cleanest on the block?’ As for me, I didn’t feel like this is what you meant. Could you elaborate more on what you really meant?”

But I didn’t ask them.

The questions that did get asked were more like, “How can we make the young sisters feel more at home in RS?” And “How can we foster more sharing among sisters without encouraging whining?”

I only jotted down the things that interested me, or thoughts I had as a result of things she said, so here’s just a hodgepodge.

Remember the three goals each RS woman should have: 1) strengthen home and family, 2) increase faith and personal righteousness, 3) serve the Lord and others. These are your three responsibilities daily. Nothing else matters much. We believe it can be done. We just go about doing the best we can. Just get up every day and do what you know to be right and ask the Lord to help.

The goal of prayer: what do I have to do today in order to live with greater faith, greater hope, and greater charity? How do I need to change?

When you have a problem, ask, “What is it about me that I have to change so that something else can move?”

Sister Beck heard Elder Holland say in a regional conference, “This year, for a New Year’s resolution, resolve to forgive yourself.”

Feel like you need a break? Don’t take a break the world’s way (escape). Instead, take a respite, making sure that you do things that fill you up. What kinds of things, truly, will fill you up? What kinds of things do you truly need? 1) Be as physically strong as you can. (food, sleep, exercise). 2) Word of God in your life, daily. 3) Time on your knees, daily. You’ll never feel fed, no matter what kind of “break” you take, without those things. Because what you need is a miracle: you need a reservoir o strength that you don’t have and knowledge (answers that you don’t have). These comes from God. You’re on the Lord’s errand and He blesses you with miracles.

These children are being hit; they have daily contact with evil. They are future prophets and prophetesses (definition of prophet: someone who knows how to receive revelation). Your job is to teach them how to do this. You can’t delegate this job.

Discipline yourself, not them.

Mothers have three shifts: nighttime, daytime, and swing [what I call the witching hour]. You really can only work two shifts well. Swing is the most important, so save up for it. Rest during the daytime so that you can come out at the top of your game when they get home from school. (Make sure you do restful, filling things during the day so that you are not tired from work or play when they get home.)

Gaining charity is a lifelong quest.

Share your troubles with your sisters without whining.


Jennifer B. said...

Thanks for sharing this. I especially appreciated reading about the idea of respite and the swing hour. Boy, could I use a little help there!

compulsive writer said...

Thank you. I needed this.

Anonymous said...

"These are your three responsibilities daily. Nothing else matters much."

That should have come with a warning since I don't usually expect to burst into tears while reading a blog. How reassuring!

I've heard of at least one case of why they would give that warning at the beginning -- something that a GA said in someone's ward got sent all over the web and was used in a kind of panicky and almost superstitious way. (I don't remember much more detail than that.) Anyway, I'll try to not do that thing where in a year I say "Well, I remember hearing in General Conference . . ." and then quote you quoting Sister Beck. :)

I love that thing about swing shift -- makes me feel better about how I do quite a bit of napping or reading etc. during the day, saving up a reserve for the afternoon and evening. (I also like your term "witching hour.")

Oh, and I liked your questions and had had about the same responses to the things you mentioned (i.e. that being the best homemakers doesn't mean more spotless homes, or that preparing for financial challenges is something we should keep working at steadily like we should have been all along.) Somewhere in the D&C it's talking about leaving for the (next location of) Zion and says something about "go not out in haste" and I like the idea that we'll always only be accountable for what we were capable of -- also, the end of the world could be tomorrow for any of us if we were to die in our sleep tonight, so making our last preparations needs to be a daily event -- and not a panicked, hasty daily event, a planned and purposeful one.

Thanks for sharing this and for the food for thought.

Anonymous said...

I found it. (Click here.) It's actually in all the standard works but the New Testament.

Laura said...

Very nice. I wonder how she would have responded to your questions. (I'm one of those women who felt totally dismayed by her words--although I did not sign the petition. I figured my response was more about what was in my own than what she actually said.)

I like the point about respite. I gotta work on that one more.

I think Sister Beck is someone you can come to like more and more over time.

Kristi Stevens said...

I wish you would have asked your questions. I'm the same way at firesides. I have deep burning questions that I am desperate for an answer but never ask. It just never feels like the right time to ask.

Really what did Sister Beck mean about being the best Housekeeper. That one has kept me up at night. I just keep coming back to a talk- I'm not even sure if it was by her about simplifying life. I pretty much use that one as a mantra.

Thanks for the great posts. I miss you. Hope to see you soon.

Mini-man said...


You know, I think she said "Homemaker," not "Housekeeper." (I may be wrong.) There's a difference. For me, her talk didn't bother me because I can easily see the price that I and my family would pay in order for me to have the cleanest house on the block. Doing so would make my home LESS home-like. So it would directly contradict the goal, which is to make it a good home for me and my family. For us, a good home has dust and clutter to a reasonable (for me) extent. And I have no stress about that.

Darlene said...

Oops, that wasn't "mini-man" speaking (my son). That was me. Gotta remember to sign him out before I go commenting on blogs.

Anonymous said...

I have at least one friend who was discouraged when she heard that quote, but whose mom and sisters said, "You took it wrong -- listen to it again and you'll see that it's meant in a supportive way," and she did listen again and felt differently. I think I took it in a positive way on my first hearing because:

a)Homemaking is already my more-than-full-time job, and I do feel like most of the time I'm doing the best I can, so for her to say it's a job worth doing was very affirming, and,

b) The modern world is often so dismissive of the value of homemaking any more, that I think that merely by valuing homemaking and trying to do well at it, as current worldly trends escalate, it's not much of a stretch to consider that (as long as we don't abandon ship) LDS women could easily end up being the best homemakers in the world without changing much of what we're doing. (This isn't to say that there's not always room for improvement in individuals, but just that by explicitly valuing homemaking, we're already on a different trajectory from many in the modern world.)