Earlier this week, members of the General Relief Society, President Jean B. Bingham, Sister Sharon Eubank, and Sister Reyna I. Aburto, all shared videos on their Facebook pages on the theme of improving individual Relief Societies.
Several weeks ago, each sister posted on her social media accounts asking what would make Relief Society more relevant to you. According to Sister Eubank, hundreds of women answered, and from those responses, the presidency members identified common themes, which they then shared on social media. Later they also posted three follow-up questions for sisters to consider as they strive to improve their Relief Society experience and the experience of other sisters in their ward or branch.
President Jean B. Bingham’s post focused on sisters wanting to belong. She said in her post, “I am eternally grateful to Relief Society women who looked past my faults, forgave my failings, and invited me to be their friend. I am appreciative of Relief Society sisters who reached out to include me as I served in Young Women or Primary or was unable to attend meetings for other reasons, helping me remember that I am always a member of the greatest sisterhood of women in the world, no matter where I am serving.”
She then posed this follow-up question: What can you do to increase the feeling of loving inclusion in your Relief Society’s sisterhood?
Mandy Al-Bjaly commented on Sister Bingham’s post: “I think we need to look for the good in each other. We should compliment each other genuinely. We should reach out to help each other. We should sit next to someone who is alone. We should pray for discernment to know when a sister needs a friend, comfort, support, or just a listening ear. We should share our testimonies with each other. We should remember and respect that we all have different experiences and wisdom to share.”
Janet George Bell shared in the comments, “One thing I know is that it begins sometimes with my own perceptions. Sometimes we feel judged or like we don't belong, or that others are looking at us when really they're not. It is hard to do, but going into Relief Society without the expectation of being judged, but in realizing that EVERYONE in there is going through something is very freeing, and leads to those friendships that are so precious.”
Sister Sharon Eubank’s message also centered around sisters wanting to belong, but included the desire of many for Relief Society to be “a safe place to talk about life’s non-fairy-tale parts without judgment or sugar coating.”
She also shared a story from her own personal history: “On a Sunday six or seven years ago, I stood up to teach a class, but I was completely empty. There had just been a tragic death in my family and everything I had prepared for my lesson felt trite and stale. I remember facing the class and then whispering: Can you help me? I don’t know how to get through this grief. The class members softened and began sharing parts of the gospel that carried them through their own grief and numbness. It was one of the most sacred collective experiences I have ever had. I’ve thought a lot about it since. What made it work that day? Why doesn’t it always work? It took honesty and a merciful response to honesty. People listened for my real issues and asked follow-up questions. They reached out to me afterward. That class became a place where I was no longer alone.”
In conjunction with the goal of making Relief Society a safer place, Sister Eubank then asked, “How can you improve your own Relief Society circle?”
Maxine Hanks shared in the comments of Sister Eubank’s post: ”I also love the ways that many Relief Society women and Young Women are finding and shifting more into self acceptance, authenticity, presence, voice, conscience, inner spiritual authority and empowerment. So I want to support more of that.”
And Rachel Allen commented, “Oh I love Relief Society! I have been blessed to be a part of many lessons where sisters have bravely spoken of their struggles, and that has united us and changed me. There is always still a ways to go, but I’ll try harder to be one of the brave ones more often.”
Sister Reyna Aburto’s Facebook post revolved around how women could do better at supporting each other along our mortal journey. She wrote, “As members of Relief Society, each of us can help other sisters feel connected, welcomed, supported, and listened to, so together we can get closer to our Savior Jesus Christ and receive His redeeming grace.”
To take this concept one step further, her video asks, “How can you create a welcoming, safe, and inviting place for women to strengthen each other in the Lord?”
Ryceejo Shattuck answered on her Facebook post, “Ask more questions! Sure we want to be confident in what we already ‘know,’ but every woman has individual experiences, and the more we seek to understand them, the better we make each other feel welcome!”
And Rachel Gianni Abbott said, “Accept each person as COMPLETE, as is. We are not varying values depending on marital status or if we’re mothers. We are children of our heavenly parents. All by ourselves, they love us completely.”