Recently, I drove 5,118 miles across America on a book tour for Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon. Every once in a while I would switch the GPS to “walk mode” to see how long the pioneers would have had to go… if they had been trekking on perfectly smooth interstate roads. When I saw the distance that was taking us mere hours would have taken them days, I just shook my head. How did those men and women choose God in such a bold way?
Then I realized—I was meeting women all along my journey who were choosing to serve God in their own way today. What was fascinating is that, while every place was different, there was also a distinct universality to the women I met. Those women were brave, strong, talented—and yearning to use their gifts in robust ways.
For example, at my stop in Cincinnati I met a group of powerful women. Each of them used their talents to make that event happen—the woman who had the idea, the woman who organized the event, the woman who graciously hosted (and served my favorite berries and cream— yum!), the woman who wrote new verses to a Primary song to celebrate women from the scriptures and Heavenly Mother, the women who performed the lovely number, and the women who attended to enrich us all with their spirit. An event like that was a testimony to the myriad of ways that women choose to use their talents to serve God every day.
In Kentucky, I met a woman who was a mother to five. While she knew she was developing her talents now in nurturing her kids, she was also yearning for days and time to use other of her talents. She asked how to identify her "super power" (otherwise known as talents or gifts of the spirit). Everyone decided that when we feel sparkly and energetic, we can know we are using our "super powers."
In Illinois, I met Kristen Nelson, a woman who has a lovely CD with Deseret Book called Tell Me the Stories of Jesus: Primarily Unplugged—Primary songs the way you’ve always wanted to enjoy them as an adult. She graced our event in Decatur and we decided to team up for more down the road. She initially recorded the songs to bless a distressed child, but now they can uplift everyone.
In Kearney, Nebraska, a member of the Church served God by picking us up from the side of the road after a deer hit us and lobbying her brother to come pick up our stuff (and we had a lot of stuff between book tour and moving back to India!) when the tow truck was AWOL. Yes, our car was totaled, but we now have new friends in Kearney! Like these kind members, I want to be the kind of person who will say, “yes,” when confronted with the opportunity to serve.
I also do not want to leave out the people I met in all the other places…the graciousness of strangers is impressive. I saw evidence of women who choose God every day in simple and challenging ways all along my way.
And here’s the thing—the world needs the strength of women. At a time when refugees need a Christlike welcome, our homes need to be havens for ourselves and our children, and all those who are different than us need to be treated in a loving way, the strength of women is desperately needed. We need the kindness and love of women in the world.
As Elder Nelson said in October general conference, "We . . . need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. . . . We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith…”
Let’s do it. Women, use all of your might to choose God.