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Latter-day Saint Psychologist: 4 Coping Skills We Can Learn from Women in the Scriptures

In creating the world, God was organized and methodical. The foundations were built such that each step built upon the next. But when almost all the creative work was done, the Lord noted that Adam was alone: “And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him…. And I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and I took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof; And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Moses 2:18, 21–22). It was clear that Adam, on his own, was unequal to the tasks ahead of him. He needed a partner. It was then that Eve was brought forth. It was only after her creation that the world was complete. 

My life has been forever changed through the examples of my patient and loving mother, my amazing and faithful wife, and my beautiful and talented daughter. In addition, I have been blessed by many other women I am privileged to know. As I reflect on the scriptures, I find many determined women who have provided excellent examples regarding how to manage trials, cope with challenges, and move forward in faith. Here are a few of my favorites:

Humility: Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ was a young woman engaged to a good man. It was in her tender years that she received the surprise of her life. An angel appeared and informed her that she would bear a child who would be the Son of God. Mary knew enough to inquire how that was even possible, as she had led a chaste life. The angel explained and then said, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Then comes Mary’s incredible response: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). In other words, “I’m here to serve. I’ll do as you have asked—my life is in your hands.

I love Mary’s reaction to the angelic announcement. She could have responded with doubt, wondering how such things could be. She could have responded with anger, anxiety, frustration, or resentment, as this turn of events was not in her plans. Yet she answered with humility and trust, submitting herself to the will of the Lord. 

Humility is an excellent coping skill. Many times, we are faced with unexpected challenges, where our life takes a turn that we didn’t see coming. Such changes can often lead us to feel out of control and confused, inspiring anxiety and stress. If we, like Mary, however, can find ways to humbly accept our Father in Heaven’s planning and timing and trust that He is always mindful of us, it can help reduce feelings of fear or trepidation. As we submit to God’s designs in our lives, we will experience greater peace and happiness and build trust in His constant, loving care.

Faith: The Woman Taken in Adultery

Scheming men dragged a vulnerable woman to the Savior. They cast a spotlight on her adulterous behavior while hiding their own sinful ways. The men demanded of the Lord whether the woman should be executed or not, based on the requirements of the law of Moses, hoping to trap Him between a desire for compassion and His integrity to follow the law. In inimitable fashion, the Master detected their fraud and responded that the sinless ones first stone the woman. As they all slunk away in shame, the woman was left alone with Jesus. He spoke to her: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). The Joseph Smith Translation further records, “And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name.” 

The woman could have gone on in ways of transgression. She could have reasoned there was no way she could repent from such a terrible sin. Yet she chose to have faith, believing Jesus’ words, and went on to change her life. 

Faith is a critical coping skill as we manage life’s problems. As we trust the Savior, we will have greater hope and less despair. Satan would like us to believe that when we’ve made mistakes, particularly big mistakes, that is the end and there is no recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus Christ stands ready to receive all who come to Him. He will treat us with exceeding compassion, as He did the woman taken in adultery. Have faith that He will fulfill His promises. Look to the future with hope. Know that He can solve any problem, no matter how overwhelming. 

Compassion: The Women at the Cross

As prophesied but not truly understood by His disciples, the cruel fate of Calvary eventually came to pass. In agony, the Savior of the world hung mercilessly on the cross as crowds gawked and jeered. Yet there were also faithful women who had gathered. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). I am a father, and my heart aches when I think of the suffering my children have experienced. Still, they have never gone through anything so desperate as the physical suffering of crucifixion. I cannot imagine the intense grief of a mother and her associates, gathered at the feet of their baby boy, watching Him in voluntary agony. 

These women could have avoided the awful scene. Even the night before, some of Jesus’s strongest allies had left or denied Him. Surely these women would have been honorably excused from attending the horrible, torturous execution of their loved one. Yet they came to provide support. They prayed in faith, wept in sorrow, and showed compassion during a time when perhaps the Lord needed it most. We often look at our own problems with blinders on, feeling our suffering is as bad as it gets. But as we expand our vision and seek to help and show compassion to others, we find that our own problems often look less in comparison. When we reach out to others in compassion, we have to set our own issues down for a moment. This experience has a remarkable benefit: after serving others, we find that our own problems seem a little lighter and a little less troublesome. Such is a blessing to those who exercise compassion—they find that their own burdens are eased.

Integrity: Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

After the Savior’s death, it seemed despair was in order. Although He had promised to return and had even raised others from the dead, the hope that those promises would be fulfilled seemed fantastical at this point. He was gone, and his disciples grieved. Some started thinking about what they would do with their lives going forward. But others held faithful and continued to follow Him, regardless of the circumstance, including Mary: “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre” (John 20:1). 

Mary may have not slept at all that night, staying faithful to her covenant to honor the Sabbath. Then, likely as the first hint of sunrise signaled the end of the Sabbath, she went to the tomb to prepare the body of her Lord for proper burial. She could have slept in that morning, especially after the exhausting events of the prior days. Truly, she would have been well justified in delegating and sending someone else to do this somber task. But Mary had integrity and followed through with her commitments. 

Integrity is critical in helping us remain emotionally stable. Nothing brings greater distress than a growing distance between what we’ve agreed to do and  our actual behaviors. As we narrow that gap, striving to follow through with our promises, we find greater peace. In addition, as we try to keep our covenants, we are entitled to the blessings of the Lord, which brings even more peace and spiritual protection. 

God bless faithful women everywhere. Your examples throughout the ages have been essential for the rest of us. May we all learn from the patterns of these faithful women as we try to improve our own coping skills and qualify for the blessings that Heavenly Father desires to give us. 

Lead image from Shutterstock
David morgan

Dr. David T. Morgan

Dr. Morgan is the author of My God Hath Been My Support: Seven Keys to Understanding and Enduring Personal Trials and Peace Be Unto You: Anxiety Management Using Gospel PrinciplesHis writings contain insights and solutions to apply gospel principles to emotional challenges. You can see more content, connect with him on social media, or ask questions on his website,www.ldspsychologist.com.

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