Liz Darger: Establishing Home-Court Advantage

Wed Jun 16 10:00:45 EDT 2021
Episode 135

When Liz Darger, a senior associate athletic director at BYU, was a young girl, her mother taught a home evening lesson that made a deep impression on her. Liz's mother spoke of creating a home-court advantage for each member of their family. This meant celebrating one another’s successes, being patient when a family member is struggling, and protecting their home from negative influences. On this week’s episode, we talk with Liz about how that concept of home court advantage changed her life and how it extends outside the walls of her home.

These are souls we’re dealing with…precious, precious souls to our Heavenly Parents.
Liz Darger


Liz's BYU Devotional address: "To Receive, to Covenant, and to Minister" May, 2021

For more information about BYU Women's Conference, see here.

See the full Young Women Theme here.

"Your example of respect and fairness will open doors and create meaningful friendships that you will cherish throughout your life" (Elder Rasband, "Religious Freedom and Fairness for All," September 2015).


2:19- Creating Home-Court Advantage for Everyone
5:23- Cultivated in the Home, Carried Into the World
8:43- Finding Identity as a Daughter of God
11:28- A Wonderful Integration
14:48- A Sense of Belonging
17:38- Investing in Relationships—A Two-Way Thing
24:45- Both Sides of the Bridge Together
27:00- Showing Up…With Cake
32:00- Listening—The Bedrock of Respect
36:52- Trusted Receivers of People in Our Path
40:18- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Morgan Jones 0:00
In basketball, there is a phrase used to describe the physical and psychological benefits that a player experiences when competing in his or her own arena. You know the feeling, when your favorite team is playing in front of a crowd full of its own fans and the arena is just absolutely rocking. Ironically, as I record the intros for this episode my voice is a little bit shot as a result of cheering super loud last night at a Utah Jazz playoff game. I am a huge basketball fan. So it likely comes as no shock that I was immediately obsessed with an analogy recently shared by Liz Darger in a BYU devotional that we can create this home court advantage for the people in our lives. I'm excited to dig into this concept with Liz on today's episode.

Liz Darger is a member of the Young Women General Advisory Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Professionally, she is the senior associate athletic director at BYU. She also serves on the West Coast Conference Executive Council and is a member of the NCAA Common Ground leadership team.

This is All In, an, LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am honored to have Liz Darger with me today. Liz, welcome.

Liz Darger 1:28
Thank you. I'm honored to be here. I'm a huge fan of yours. Thanks for all the good work that you're doing to bless the world.

Morgan Jones 1:34
Oh, thank you. Well, you are doing incredible work to bless the world and to bless the Church. And I want to start, you just gave a BYU devotional just recently, and you talked about this concept of home court advantage.

Liz Darger 1:48

Morgan Jones 1:48
And I am a sports junkie–I know you are as well–and so I want to first have you tell us what you mean when you talk about home court advantage, and what it means to you personally.

Liz Darger 2:01
Excellent, thank you. So growing up, my parents–we were the type of family that had family home evening, we had family prayer, family scripture study–my parents were very intentional parents, lots of moments of learning. And I remember a particular family home evening lesson that my mom talked about how we could create a home court advantage for everyone in our family.

And my siblings and I all really enjoyed sports, my parents actually weren't really into sports. And so it was even more meaningful that she found something that was important to her children to teach an important gospel principle, and that was how can we create an atmosphere in our home where every member of our family feels like they have the advantage of being a place that's familiar, that's comfortable, where people are there cheering them on, where people are forgiving of their mistakes, a place that we can feel peace and feel celebrated. And so, you know, we talked about examples of what we can do in our home.

And so as I've thought about that concept–and I have benefited greatly from feeling a sense of home court advantage in many aspects of my life in my work, in church, in my family and in friend groups–thought about, how can we create that for everybody? How can we create that sense of belonging for everyone where they can feel confidence and peace, knowing they're surrounded by people that want them to be successful and want to help them be successful.

And when they're not successful, are there to wrap their arms around them and be with them, and support them in those times when they, when they are struggling, but also provide a place that is familiar, and a place that feels like home. A place that feels comfortable, where we can all be ourselves and be our best selves. And so that's something I'm trying to do in my life in every area, is how can I help create that for the people that I come in contact with.

Morgan Jones 3:59
Well, I think this idea is profound, and makes me think of–I'm a Jazz fan. And right now the Jazz have the number one seed going into the playoffs, which means that they will have homecourt advantage over the course of the playoffs, which is amazing. And it does–it gives a huge advantage to the home team because they know that they're going to have that fan support.

And it also reminds me, I just heard something the other day and I wish I knew exactly where it came from. But they talked about how one of the biggest human needs is to feel a sense of belonging, and that when we feel that sense of belonging, we don't have insecurities. We feel comfortable and at peace–all those things that you described. And so I love this idea. I want to dig into it a little bit more. I wondered in your personal life, how did–so from the time you were young, you mentioned your family and your family's influence. How did your parents cultivate a sense of home court advantage, and then how have you seen that extend–because I know that you are all about close friends, you have a very good group of close friends, and then also colleagues at BYU–so what does that look like?

Liz Darger 5:13
My parents were masterful at this. Even as we were growing up, my parents talked about us children in a way that that made us feel like we were much more important than we were. They would say things like, "How did we get into this family? Surrounded by all of you incredible children? How did we get assigned to be your earthly parents when you are such remarkable spirits?" They . . . and they meant it. It wasn't just throwing around praise, they meant it. And so we felt that.

We felt from our parents that they meant it, that they felt a sense of gratitude and awe of having this responsibility to parent these little souls that they were responsible for in mortality to help raise. And so that first and foremost, and because of that belief of my parents and helping us believe that, it showed in how they treated us. We were all about uplifting. We were . . . if we, you know, were tearing down a sibling, there was a, there was a very swift reminder that we don't do that in our family, that we build each other up.

I think one of the things I noticed actually about my parents is in public, if we were at church, or at a party, or somewhere else, I never heard my parents diminish each other in front of somebody, even sarcastically, even a joking–they never did that. They always uplifted the other in front of other people and talked about their strengths and talked about how much they loved them and what they had to offer.

And that modeled for me, how we can do that as well. When you live with people and family, you know the best and worst of them, you see all these sides of them. But as we present to other people, choosing to share the best that people have to offer, and choosing to just honor and hold sacred those moments when people aren't at their best. And that that's not something that needs to be . . . needs to be broadcasted to others. But we can privately be with people in those moments, but, but as we are with other people that we present the wonderful, best things about them. I think that's one concept of that home court advantage.

And, and my parents modeled it greatly. And so did my grandparents, frankly, as I think about on both sides of my family, my grandparents are the kind of people that you felt like you were the most important person in the world when you were with them. They were specific in their praise. It wasn't just, a–"Oh, you're so wonderful." It was, "Let me tell you why you're wonderful. Let me tell you the things I've noticed about you that are wonderful." And so as I, as I have taken that into relationships, later on in life, there have been really meaningful relationships for me.

I was a, I was a typical teenager, played a lot of sports, you know, sang in the choir, did all sorts of things, and when I went to BYU, I had a really hard time. I really lost my sense of identity, as I imagine many BYU students might go through because it feels like everyone at BYU was on the high school basketball team or in the choir or in student government or an excellent artist or–name it, and then you get to BYU, and I wasn't on the basketball team or the volleyball team. I wasn't in the choir, I wasn't in student government. Everything that I thought was who made me, I no longer was. And I went through a bit of an identity crisis. And there were loving people all around me that really helped me to still feel like I belonged to something.

And as I went to my Father in Heaven to understand, okay, who am I? Because I'm no longer doing any of the things that I thought made me who I was, so who am I? The answer was very, very clear. And the answer was actually the theme that I'd recited over and over again growing up, the Young Women Theme, that I was a daughter of God. And that truth finally seemed to find a place in my soul, that I really was His. That I had Heavenly Parents, that I was beloved, and because of that, that meant that there were important things that God needed me to do.

And I may not know them all yet or understand them all, but I belong to something important because I belonged to my Heavenly Parents. And when I received that testimony for myself then, and it wasn't till later in life than I really sought a testimony to see that divinity in everybody else, too. That if I received that witness that I really truly was a daughter of Heavenly Parents, then I needed to seek that witness that everyone else is a child of God too.

And when I did that with intention and faith and really received that witness, then that changed for me, how I've–how I look to treat other people. And I'm not perfect at it. In fact, I'm not great at it a lot of the time, but it changed my motivation to want to be so much better at it, so that I could really align my actions with my belief, which is that everyone that's on this earth chose mortality and chose God's plan and covenanted to come down here. And, and so that's impacted all of my relationships, and it's something I'm striving to be better at every day, is to treat people in a way that it recognizes that I see that they are–these are souls we're dealing with. That these are souls, precious, precious, souls to our Heavenly Parents.

Morgan Jones 10:47
That's so well said, and I think–I love that there are two parts of what you just said that connect to what you're doing now. So you talked about being a BYU student, and for the first time–probably–being like a little fish in a big pond. And anybody that has gone to a large university I think, and especially BYU for a lot of those listening, can relate to that. I've said this on this podcast before, but when I went to BYU, my aunt gave me one piece of advice. And she said, "You want to find something to belong to." And she's like, "It doesn't matter if it's a job, if it's a club, if it's some group of–" but she said, "You want to find something to belong to, because you need to know that if you don't show up one day, someone will notice."

And for me, that was my job in the athletic department. And that's what it did for me every day. I knew that people were counting on me to show up and that if I didn't show up, they would be worried about me. And I was a long way from home. And so I love that now you have a chance to help students at BYU feel like they belong. And then you've talked about the Young Women Theme, and now you're on the Young Women General Advisory Council. So those two pieces of your story kind of come together in what you're doing now. And I just think that's so cool. What a cool blending of opportunities.

Liz Darger 12:11
It is. And I feel so fortunate, and I have been blessed with just incredible opportunities to serve in different capacities in ways, whether in the Church or just in my job, and I feel that too. I'm also in the middle of a doctoral program writing my dissertation, and how that all happened at the same time is it must be part of God's plan because no one would choose to do all those things at the same time.

Morgan Jones 12:36
Cruel and unusual form of punishment.

Liz Darger 12:38
Oh, absolutely. But it has been astounding to me how many times something I'm learning in my doctoral program applies to my work at BYU and my current Church assignment on the Young Woman General Advisory Council. Or something in work that applies to my Church work and my doctoral program or something in Church that applies the other two. I feel this weaving of these different parts of my life together, and again, I feel very fortunate because there are, there are many people that go to work and that's kind of compartmentalized, and then they go home with their family and that's compartmentalized and they go to Church, and that's compartmentalized.

And, and for me, my life really gets to be this really wonderful integration of my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, of my love for higher education, I believe in education, and, and having that. My love of sports, I love sports. And then my family–and I'm single. I don't have children, but my nieces and nephews, my siblings, my parents, and then my friends are very important to me, and being able to weave all of those together, I just, I count my blessings that I, that I get to do that, because I know that that's rare. And I love the things I learned from every situation and how it applies to the others.

Morgan Jones 13:54
I think that having the chance to see every part of your life become a collective whole is really a beautiful thing. I wanted to ask you, based on these experiences that you've had and the things that you've been learning and studying, I believe that in the different things that you're doing, really, all of it is like a study, right? So what do you feel like you're learning about why that sense of belonging is so important and why people need that?

Liz Darger 14:27
It's a great question. We are made for connection. It's built into the plan of salvation and exaltation. It literally is built into the plan, is that we are all connected to one another. When we think about uniting families for eternity–that's it. It's, how do we seal together people so that we all can belong eternally? It's a really incredible truth. And when you think about that, and so then here in mortality, this sense of belonging, we–of course, we have it. We want to belong, we want to feel connected, because we belong to this great family of God.

And, and here we are in mortality, trying to figure this out and make choices and become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven, with the hopes to return to live with them someday. And again, each one of these stages of this is . . . requires being involved with other people. And so that sense of belonging, I think it's just something we come wired with. And in mortality, it becomes more difficult because there are so many things that can divide us, and we live in a world that looks for ways to divide us. And I think that's one of Satan's tools.

And, and so for us to find ways to help everyone feel like they belong becomes challenging when we aren't willing to look outside of what might be most familiar to us or what might be most comfortable to us. But that's what it requires, is for us to be willing to broaden our viewpoint to recognize people and their unique gifts and talents and diverse backgrounds and experiences. And, and ultimately we can belong to a lot of things. You can, you know, belong–you know, for you, you mentioned working at BYU, and that that really helped you have a sense of belonging. Other people, yeah, it's a club, or hopefully it's a ward, or it's a team. You know, there's so many different things people can belong to, and those are all important, and families.

But ultimately, the most important part of belonging is how do we help people belong and recognize their divine worth and recognize the implications for that, in terms of what we do in mortality so that we can qualify to live with God again, which is the truly the ultimate belonging.

Morgan Jones 16:56
Absolutely. Liz, you also recently gave a talk at BYU women's conference. And so I watched those two talks, and I think there were–it's interesting, the talks are very different, but I think there were key principles that kind of apply in both spaces. And in the–I believe your women's conference talk was titled, "Bridges, not Barricades," is that right? And I love that, because I think like you were just saying, we do ourselves such a disservice.

And I probably have said this so many times on this podcast, that people are like, "Stop saying the same thing," But I really believe that we, we create a disadvantage for ourselves in our lives when we silo ourselves off and think like, "Oh, I'm single, and she's married, we can't be friends," or, "She's old. And I'm in my early 30s, we wouldn't be friends." Because I think some of the most rewarding relationships in this life come from people that are different than us. And I think about people that have been very different from me, and absolutely no regret in forming those relationships.

So in these two talks, you talk about a couple of things that I think are action items, kind of, of ways that we can do this–ways that we can create a space of belonging. And I wondered if we could just like touch on some of those. The first is, you talk about investing in relationships. I wondered, what does that look like in your mind?

Liz Darger 18:22
Yes, thank you. And I think the reason you keep harping on it in your podcast is because we all need to hear it over and over and over again to give us the confidence and the courage to do it. Because it's not easy.

Morgan Jones 18:33

Liz Darger 18:34
And when you think of investment, it's a long-term thing. It's not a quick fix, it's not an easy thing. It is, it is a long-term commitment. And some relationships that have become very important in my life with people that are very different from me, it requires us to come to the table and stay at the table, and, and invest in every part of each other's lives.

So for instance, I'm a part of the NCAA Common Ground initiative and part of their leadership team–which I could spend hours talking about, and we'll save that for another setting–but it's an initiative that brings together people from all over college athletics to create athletic spaces where people from all sexual orientations, all gender identities, and all religions can feel safe, and create more inclusive environments where no one's core beliefs are compromised. That sounds like a pretty hefty goal these days, and, and it is, but being a part of this leadership team–those relationships with members of that leadership team are some of the most treasured, cherished relationships in my life. And that's not hyperbole, these people have become some of my dearest friends.

And so when you talk about investing in relationships, that's a two way thing. And it's investing in becoming a part of somebody's life, and wanting to, and not just being a part of their life that are the familiar. It means meeting people where they are. It means asking good questions and listening. It means respecting and honoring people's agency. It requires not just even metaphorically meeting people where they are but physically meeting people where they are. It requires connection. And after I gave the BYU devotional, there were a lot of really kind people that were very generous in their feedback.

But probably the feedback that meant the most to me was from my friends from the common ground initiative, who watched and texted me and called me to say that they were with me and cheering me on and, and that they loved seeing me in that setting, testifying of what I believe. They were with me. I mean, they tuned in to watch a BYU Devotional, because that's what you do when you invest in somebody, you invest in what's important to them.

And that means for those that are different than me that I take time to listen and to understand. And what's important to them, and how can I support them in those efforts? It's long term, and it can be real, and it can be raw, and it's not easy. But Elder Rasband, he gave a prophetic promise that I've truly felt in my life. He spoke at a BYU devotional in 2015, right when I started at BYU. The devotional was called "Religious Freedom and Fairness for All," he talks specifically about religious freedom, and LGBTQ rights, and little did I know that I would then become involved a year later in these conversations, but I remember watching his devotional, and he gave a promise, that he said, "As you treat people with fairness and look at them through a lens of fairness," he said that, "You will be blessed with friendships that you will cherish throughout your life."

And, and he said that, "As you reach out in love and consideration to others, you will feel even more His power and His love. And your example of respect and fairness will open doors and create meaningful friendships that you will cherish throughout your life." Now, I didn't know it at the time, but that has been absolutely prophetic in my life, when I think of these friendships that I cherish.

And, and that investment is it often requires us to go out of our comfort zone. But like anything, including faith and other things, it requires us sometimes take a couple steps in the darkness before we see what's ahead and what steps are next.

Morgan Jones 22:37
For sure. And I think, first of all, I'm so glad you brought up the NCAA Common Ground initiative, because I noticed when you were giving your talk, you said, "I treasure these people more than I can express," and you just use that word "treasure" again. I remember when I was in the MTC, my MTC teacher talked about how you need to find out what people's treasure is because the scriptures tell us, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," and he said, if you can figure out what they treasure, then you can figure out where their heart is.

Liz Darger 23:09
Love that.

Morgan Jones 23:10
And so I love that you use that word, because I think that to you, that is, it is what you treasure, and that is where your heart is. I also love this idea of investing. I admittedly do not know a lot about investing. But I have learned a couple of things recently. And one thing is just–I mean, this is the most basic–but investing means that there's a price. And I think when you invest in relationships, it is going to come at a price which means like, you show up when it's not convenient, you do these things that are work in many cases.

I also think a lot of times you put in that investment, and it can go up and down over the course of time, but most of the time the market goes up. And so I love the idea of kind of just writing it out and realizing that in the end, you're going to turn out somewhere better than where you have been, on higher ground.

Liz Darger 24:06
I love that. When we think about how we can build bridges or how we can invest in relationships that may not be the most obvious friendships or relationships because we have different backgrounds or different ideas or different life experience, I think one of the beautiful things I've learned about that is when we, when we build bridges, then it doesn't become this thing of, "Okay, well, I'm going to stand on my side of the bridge and then you come over here and then we'll have a conversation, we'll get to know each other and will enrich each other's lives"–that's not how it works. We go to their side of the bridge and, and say, "I want to better understand you. Tell me, tell me about yourself. Tell me about what you believe and why. Tell me about your experiences."

And the beautiful part of it is when we invest in relationships like that with someone else who wants to invest in a relationship too, when we both want to build a bridge, then it doesn't end up even being taking turns on each other side of the bridge like, "Okay, well, let's go to your side of the bridge, and we'll have a conversation and then we'll come over to mine and we'll have a conversation," it actually becomes, literally, both of you together traveling to each side of the bridge and any other new bridge that you find.

But you're, you're literally doing it together because you both are invested in that relationship. It's no longer a solo trip to their side to meet them, and their solo trip to our side to meet them. It starts with that, because we need to meet people where they are, not expect them to come meet us where we are. But as you're doing that, and the other person is investing too, you find that it's no longer a solo trip. You're together going to every side of the bridge and discovering together, learning together. And that has been what I have felt with these dear friends of the Common Ground leadership team is there is a lot less of feeling like, we're all going to each other's side of the bridge alone, we're all traveling it together and visiting all these different sides of bridges together, and saying, "Okay, what can we learn from each other in this experience?" So that's just something I wanted to add.

Morgan Jones 26:06
I love that. And I think that's spot on. Because every–you think about any trip in your life, it's always more fun when you have company. So it's a lot better to have that person on the journey with you, rather than traveling over there by yourself. Another thing that you said is, you talked about showing up early and often, and I feel like we've kind of touched on that. But is there anything else that you would say in terms of how that has been modeled to you in your life?

Liz Darger 26:35
There's no substitute for showing up in someone's life. My late grandfather, Ned Peterson, he had a lot of famous lines, like I think a lot of our grandfathers probably do. But when we'd gather as a family, you know, when he'd kind of gather everyone together, he would just, he would start with saying, "Thanks for showing up!" And that was his line to just let everyone know–thank you for showing up and being a part of this.

And we can show up in so many different ways. And that has happened in my life over and over again. And whether it is showing up in person for important events, whether it is checking in on people, whether it is–I mean, there's so many modes of communication now. I think something that stands out to me though, is I find myself often hesitant to, quote, unquote, show up, if I don't quite know what to say, or how to do it.

So if I have a friend that has just been diagnosed with cancer, or, or someone who has just lost a loved one who's died by suicide, or last June, when racial tensions were at such a high, and I knew I wanted to reach out and show up for people that I cared about, but I didn't know quite how to do it. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what would be meaningful, I didn't want to say the wrong thing. And so I was hesitant.

And something I've learned is when I recognize that hesitancy, to recognize that that is the adversary who doesn't want us to show up for other people, and wants us to question ourselves, and wants to confuse us into thinking it's better to just stay back and be quiet. And in reality, what I found is showing up even if it's clumsy, showing up even if you don't say something quite the right way, but whatever meager efforts we have to show someone that we care are–people can sense our good intentions. And that's what matters.

It may not matter as much what I say in the phone call to a friend that's just been through tragedy. It may not matter if I'm late to this activity, but am I there? Do I make the phone call? Do I send the text message? Instead of just worrying so much about making sure it's the perfect response. It's the perfect thing.

I remember a story my mother told me of some neighbors across the street who weren't of our faith. And the neighbor had run for public office and had lost the election. And my mom just didn't really know like what to do or what to say. She–this woman had put her heart and soul into this, I think it might have been for the school board. And she didn't know what to do. And the thought came to her just to bake a cake. And isn't that a Latter-day Saint woman's answer much of the time? Which I'm grateful for, anyone can bring me cakes anytime, that solves a lot of problems for me. And so she just made a cake and she knocked on the neighbor's door and just said, "I don't know what to say except I'm so sorry. And I just thought maybe we could have a piece of cake together." And again, whether that was the exact right thing or what this woman needed, but the intention behind it is clear. No one can question the intention that, that you are trying to show up in somebody's life and say, "I am here to support you, and I may not know the best way to do that."

And then we also can ask, "How can I show up in your life? What do you need?" Because we all have different circumstances. And it may look different, depending on our circumstances. For me right now, for someone to show up in my life with my schedule and how things are may look a little differently than it would if I were, if my life were different. And so we can ask people, "What do you need from me? How can I show up for you?"

Morgan Jones 30:27
That was so good. And so many things that we could pull out of that. I wanted to touch on one thing that you said in your talk, you said, "Now is the time for us to commit to be season ticket holders and loyal fans of those around us, including those whom we perceive as different." And I think what you just described is such a good example of that.

I think a lot of times, like you said, we feel this hesitancy to insert ourselves into other people's lives, because we're afraid of doing the wrong thing. But like you said, a piece of cake can't really be misinterpreted. And a lot of times any effort that we make can't be. Also, I hope that you get a lot of cake out of this podcast. I hope that people listen and just start dropping them off at your house.


Morgan Jones 31:16
I wanted to touch on something else before we kind of get to the end of this conversation. You talked about disagreeing in a respectful manner, and I think that this is something that's tricky. I think that we are really good a lot of times, as long as we're on common ground and agreeing. But what do we do when we've reached that place of disagreement? Do you have any thoughts on that, Liz?

Liz Darger 31:42
There are going to be things that we, that we disagree with people and–but so much of it is just how that conversation happens and goes. And, and a lot of it I–is again, if this is someone that we've, someone we barely met, and we're diving into some conversation about something complicated, it's a little bit harder if there's not this relationship of trust to be able to really dialogue about important things in a meaningful way. It can happen. But it's, but it's harder. So for me, being invested in relationships with people that I truly love and respect and trust, then there will be times that we will absolutely disagree. But that disagreement doesn't need to supersede all the love and respect that we have for each other.

And I also try to check myself often on when I'm in conversation, and someone is telling me their point of view, I try and check two things. One, is my focus on listening and truly trying to understand their perspective, or am I thinking of my comeback and my answer, and that's where my mind is the whole time? It should be on listening and try to truly understand someone's perspective. So that that's the first thing.

And the second thing is, in these conversations, if I find myself telling somebody what they mean by something–they're saying, "Well, this is what I mean," I'm saying, "No, that's not what you mean," or "That's not how it really is," then I think that's an important time to take a step back. And just think, hmm, is that really the right approach? Being able to listen to somebody and, and for them to explain what they mean, and even if we don't agree with that perspective, but being willing to say, "I understand what you're saying", or "I'm trying to understand what you're saying and I appreciate you being willing to share it with me. Would it be okay if I shared a little bit of how I feel about this?" and just always being cognizant of how much time we are taking doing the talking and how much time we're doing the listening and I have found over and over again that as we listen more than we talk, those opportunities come for us to express what we believe, what we think. And because we've been good listeners and respectful listeners, then when those opportunities come, there's already this bedrock of respect for then me to share, “Let me tell you a little bit about what I believe.” And having that bedrock of respect in sharing something that's so sacred to me, can just be really, really helpful.

I found in particular with discussions about seeking common ground around religious freedom and LGBTQ rights, which a lot of people think are these two separate things that can't coexist, as I testify of eternal marriage between a man and a woman, I recognize that for some people that's hard to hear of my belief in that eternal truth. As I hope that in my relationships with the people that I share my testimony that with, I hope they feel my love and respect for them, and that I honor their agency.

And, and I have found in these relationships that while we may disagree, or we may not believe the same thing, but that they also–I hope–recognize my belief in how we love others and how we treat others. Because that's also an eternal truth, is how we treat one another and a gospel truth. And so keeping those two things balanced of loving God and loving others, and I have found, again, is if we're willing to invest in those long term relationships, that even when we get to those points of disagreement around really sensitive core issues where . . . we're talking about people's core identities, of course, people are passionate, of course people have strong beliefs and feelings. But as we, as we seek to understand and see the humanity in each other, then I found that we can have that those points of disagreement, but still have love and respect for one another.

Morgan Jones 36:08
That was beautifully stated. And it actually leads into something I wanted to make sure that we touched on in the BYU devotional, you talked about being trusted receivers. And you talked about receiving revelation and the Lord trusting us to receive that revelation. It also, I feel like, plays in perfectly to what you were just talking about, being trusted receivers of what other people have to say. And then finally, I think, being trusted receivers of people, and recognizing that when Heavenly Father put someone in our lives, in our path, there's something that we have to learn from that person or that experience, and I think he wants us to take care of each other. So how do you think that we become worthy of that trust of becoming trusted receivers from our Heavenly Father?

Liz Darger 37:01
I love that. And, and I agree. How we receive other people into our lives, including those that may be on the margins, or those that are different, I think is a great test of–are we aligning our actions with what we believe about other people? And so one way I feel like we can become trusted receivers of other people and show our Father in Heaven that we are, is how we treat those that might be on the margins, or harder to love, or different. And, and that is something that we all can strive to do. And I feel like in some ways, that's really the lesson of a lifetime. That's the lesson of mortality, is how we do that.

For some people, I recognize that maybe within their family, and that becomes really hard when you have these relationships that everyone tells you should be perfect and wonderful and easy. And when they're not, that can be really hard. How do we receive someone in our family, when it's difficult? How do we receive people, colleagues, at work? How do we receive people in our communities? How do we receive people at church? In our Relief Societies and Elders Quorums and our Young Woman classes and Aaronic priesthood quorums.

And that's something I think we're trying to teach Young Women right now, too, is how they can be trusted receivers and learn how to hear Him. And then, in particular with class presidencies right now, how they can receive other people and have that Christ like leadership to lead with love. And it all starts with a testimony of divinity, of ourselves, and the divinity of others. And then it becomes, again, the work of a lifetime to align those things. And when I think of examples of my life of people that have done that, that have received me and all of my weakness and all of my idiosyncrasies, and all of my craziness–yeah, those people are very, very dear to me. And it includes family, includes dear friends, it includes priesthood leaders and other Church leaders. And it includes people that have very different beliefs than I do. But they are being trusted receivers by being willing to receive all of me too, not just when I'm at my best.

Morgan Jones 39:25
Yeah. Liz this has been such a helpful conversation, and there have been so many things that I will continue to think about and things that will, I think, shape relationships in my own life, and so thank you so much for sharing these things with us. My last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Liz Darger 39:50
There are two parts of that answer for me. And the first one is individually, being all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is living it. Living what I know, living my covenants. Mosiah 2:41, "Consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. They're blessed in all things, and then can be received into glory." And me living up to those sacred covenants I have made.

But then the second part is because of that, because of covenants I have made and because of knowledge that I have, then to me, what does it mean to be all in? Is, it means to help all be in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not just me. How do we help all people be in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? And that we do, by assisting God in His work of salvation and exaltation.

And there are four parts of that. It's living the Gospel of Jesus Christ ourselves, caring for those in need, inviting all to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, and uniting families for eternity.

So it's us ourselves being all in and living the gospel and keeping the commandments and great blessings come from that. And part of that is our covenant responsibility to assist in God's work, so that all can be in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well.

Morgan Jones 41:16
Thank you so much.

We are so grateful to Liz Darger for joining us on today's episode. You can find Liz's entire BYU address in our show notes by visiting LDSliving.com/allin. Also, as a reminder, you can get 15% off the new All In book by using the code "ALLIN6" on DeseretBook.com. Thanks to Derek Campbell from Mix at Six studios for his help with this, and every episode of this podcast and thank you for listening

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