“Prophet,” “Friend,” “Brother”—these are all words that have been used to describe Joseph Smith. But what about “Restorer,” “Visionary,” or even “Warrior”? Heidi’s friends (and historians) Jenny Reeder and Bob Millet share with Heidi how they would define Joseph if they only had one word to do so. Then Heidi turns to Cree Nation members Jalynne Geddes and her father, Harry Michael, to hear about who they know Joseph Smith to be.
For more information about Eliza R. Snow and the beginnings of Relief Society see these sources:
- At the Pulpit “Let Us Cultivate Ourselves: Eliza R. Snow”
- Joseph Smith Papers “Joseph Smith and the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo”
See here for more information about how Joseph described the Apostle Paul: “Paul: Untiring Witness of Jesus Christ”
Heidi Swinton 0:01
Don't you wish you could just sit around the kitchen table and talk with Joseph Smith and just ask him questions? Now, obviously, we can't physically sit around the table with him. But we can do the next best thing. And that is we're going to sit and talk with some of my friends who have come to know him. Maybe it'll make you feel like you really are sitting down. So pull up a chair to the table and let's get started.
Intro, Montage of Voices 0:29
The Prophet Joseph. Stand by my servant Joseph. Brother Joseph, Joseph Smith. Joseph. Joseph Smith. Brother Joseph. Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith. The Prophet Joseph Smith. Brother Joseph.
Heidi Swinton 0:43
Welcome to Joseph, a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original, brought to you by LDS Living. And I'm Heidi Swinton, your host.
Okay, so here's a pop quiz to get us started today. If you had to think of one word to describe Joseph Smith, what would you choose? You can think about it. I'm going to wait. . . Do you have your word? Okay, great.
Now let's see if your word matches up with any of the words that my friends chose.
Steve Harper 1:15
Bob Millet 1:17
Kelsey Johansen 1:18
Rick Turley 1:19
I admire his simple faith.
Steven Harper 1:21
Mark Lusvardi 1:22
Faithful, would be the word that I would use to describe the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Heidi Swinton 1:26
Bob Millet 1:27
Heidi Swinton 1:29
Was your word there? Maybe not. Well, you know, that's what's so great about people. We are so different, so complex and unique. And how we show that to one another is a pretty personal thing.
The same thing goes for the ways that Joseph will come forward to you in your life. It's going to be pretty personal. As for me, I'm actually related to Joseph Smith. My fourth great grandfather, George A. Smith, was Joseph's first cousin, and a very loyal friend.
Now, I'm going to kind of do this like a family history chart, so listen up, kind of hang on, let's see if I can get through this. Joseph's father, Joseph, and George's father, John were brothers. You got that? So they joined the Church, they joined in with Joseph, and George–when he was 27 years old–was so devout, that Joseph called him to be an Apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve.
Now George had a beloved wife, Bathsheba–this is his first wife. This is my fourth great grandmother. And they spent hours in the company of Joseph and Emma. They went to meetings, they went to dinner, they just socialized, they were always on hand when Joseph was teaching. And they even received their endowment from the Prophet Joseph Smith before he was martyred.
So their stories about being with Joseph have been handed down in our family. Now, George and Bathsheba, with–surprise!–four sister wives left Nauvoo in 1846. Now, here's a footnote: my husband comes from the fifth wife of George A. Smith, so we share a great grandfather, which means we're cousins. I'm not going to even go there on the family history chart. I'm just going to move on.
St. George was named after him. He was the Church historian, he was a counselor to Brigham Young, he was a fabulous man. But at age 75, he fell seriously ill. And Bathsheba sat with him on a couch in their home and rested her head on his shoulder.
And she writes about pleading with him not to leave her. "Take me with you," she said. "No," George said, and it was all he could do to even respond I think. "You must stay here," he said, "And bear witness of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God." And then he died.
That account is so tender, because Bathsheba for the next 25 years as a widow, matron of the Salt Lake City temple, president of the general Relief Society under Joseph Fielding Smith, she went up and down the territory in her buggy, and every meeting she went to and every home she visited, she bore testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
So you see, for me, Joseph Smith is in my DNA. But that might not be the case for you. You don't have to be related to Joseph, to relate to Joseph. And your stories of how you came to know Him and to love him may be just the thing that your families going to cling to.
Let's just go for it. We're going to start today with Jenny Reeder. Now, you may have heard her name if you're a huge history buff. Jenny's an author and a historian, she has a great special focus on women of the 19th century, especially Emma. She's read scores of letters and papers and journals–she knows these people. And she knows what they say about Joseph.
I think talking with her helped me figure out some things of what he was like. So we're just going to gather around the table with Jenny and have you listen to her conversation.
[Tape Recorder Click]
Heidi Swinton 5:48
And we're ready to go.
Jenny Reeder 5:50
Yes, we are. One word that describes Joseph Smith, for me, is "Vision."
I think Joseph was an amazing visionary person, and that he did not allow the world around him or the cultural constraints that he may have felt––he did not allow those to define him.
Instead, he expanded his definitions and defined what he thought was what God wanted. And . . . I love that. I love that he didn't care what the world thought. He moved forward, and he lived in the way that he did.
Heidi Swinton 6:33
What do you think happens to people when they take the invitation from the Spirit to get to know Joseph Smith?
Jenny Reeder 6:40
I think it really changes people. I think we are anxious to understand him and to understand how we can live up to what he . . . his vision.
When Sarah Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret Cook, thought of this great idea to create a lady sewing society, they invited Eliza R. Snow to write what was fashionable at the time for women's organizations, a constitution and bylaws. And they knew that Elijah was very comfortable and had a lot of experience doing that.
And so Eliza did that. And she took it straight to Joseph–which I love, because I think it shows how comfortable she felt with him. And she wanted his approval, she saw him as an important authority figure. And yet, she was also friends with him enough that she could just take it straight to him and not take it through another person.
So she went to him. And he looked at her and said, "This is the best constitution I have ever seen." But then he said, "But I have something better for you, and I would like to invite the women to gather together in the red brick store next Thursday." And I love that.
He valued her and said, "This is amazing, you have done great work," and then expand that even further to something more divine. Like I said, I think he was a very visionary person and a very progressive person.
And I think it allows us to be visionary and progressive, and to see beyond the definitions that we may give ourselves, the cultural definitions, even within the church, but to see beyond that, and to see a grander picture of it all, and I love that. It makes me feel like even though I'm Jenny Reeder and I'm 46 years old, and I'm single and not married, I still have a significant part in this plan.
And my part is important, and I can do something valuable to push this work forward and to continue this restoration.
Heidi Swinton 8:52
So when people say to you, "Why should I care about Joseph Smith? It's okay, that Jenny reader cares, because she studies him all the time. But why should I care? What would you say to them?
Jenny Reeder 9:05
That's a good question. It's hard for me to not care about him and to see him from that perspective. I would say because he has changed the way that we see the world and he has changed the way that we see God. He has changed the way that we see our families, and our friends, and we understand our access to God and our responsibility to each other, to care for each other and to lift each other up and to truly be brothers and sisters.
Heidi Swinton 9:35
Jenny, I love that. You know, I'm curious, how do you place Joseph in context with ancient prophets, you know, like Adam and Moses and Noah and Elijah and even Paul. I love that he describes Paul: "Paul's not very tall, you know, maybe five feet, dark eyes, Roman nose, dark hair," you know, suddenly I see Paul in a different way. So how does Joseph help you understand them or vice versa? How do you understand him better because of their teachings?
Jenny Reeder 10:06
I love including Joseph Smith in this great cadre of ancient prophets. I think that, like Abraham, he may have wondered what he could contribute. But that also like Abraham he saw amazing visions that were so much bigger than he was. And that included this house of Israel.
I also see Joseph like Moses in the sense that Moses said he was poor of speech, and that the Lord sent Aaron to help Moses speak. The Lord since so many people to help Joseph. He provided a way for Joseph the same way he did for Moses, he sent Oliver Cowdery, and Sidney Rigdon and Emma Smith and even Eliza R. Snow, to help him accomplish the things that he was charged to do.
I see Joseph as knowing these people as knowing the prophet Moroni, this amazing prophet from the end of the Book of Mormon, and I see Moroni tutoring him and teaching him and helping him along the way, I see it all. And I think this is a testament again to Joseph as all working together.
I see him in the Kirtland temple with Oliver Cowdery when they receive that incredible vision that's recorded in Section 110, where they are fellow servants and where they are given keys from Elijah and Elijah, and even the Savior that they are all on . . . it's something my grandfather used to say, "We're all in this together, and we all have our parts to play."
I also love that he was so charismatic. I feel like, people just wanted to be with him–I want to be with him. And I just, I want to be a part of his team. I want to be on his path and build Zion with him. I feel like there's a partnership and that he's invited us all to be a part of that.
Joseph appealed to not just one particular group of people and their educational level, or their social class or where they came from. But he appealed–and he had this way that I think appealed to so many people, whether it was 19 year old Bathsheba, or . . . Oh, I can't do the public math. I can't remember how old . . . Oh, I can! I can, 38 year old Eliza. And I love that. He just had this way of working with people and understanding them on their level and reaching them on their level.
Heidi Swinton 12:52
It's like when he went down on the dock and people were getting off from the ship coming from who knows where, all the way from England or anywhere else. And he was there just welcoming them with a heartiness that spoke of his genuine nature, that he loved that they had come. And they had a place and they were accepted, and he was not, "Joseph Smith the prophet," but he was "Brother Joseph," to them.
Jenny Reeder 13:21
I love that Heidi and I love that–I've read so many women's accounts of the first time they saw Joseph the prophet on that dock. And like immediately, they knew he was a prophet. And yet, like you said, he wasn't, "Joseph the Prophet." But he was, "Brother Joseph." And they felt so welcomed and so excited, I think, to be there to be building Zion with him, and to be a part of this glorious Restoration. And like, I think I can almost see it in my head and how I would have run to be a part of this too.
Heidi Swinton 13:57
You know, I sometimes put myself in the pattern of saying, when I go through the veil in the next life, and Joseph Smith is there, I'm going to feel like those people who got off the boat, and there he was on the dock. And I'm just going to be so energized to get to finally meet him. I don't know how you feel about that, but you know, you're going to run–maybe we'll go hand in hand.
Jenny Reeder 14:22
Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. I do. I feel the exact same way.
[Tape Recorder Click]
Heidi Swinton 14:28
I love Jenny's thought that we're all in this together. We're in this with Joseph, we're in this with the early Saints, and even with ancient prophets. And most of all, we're in this with the Lord.
Now, we have a sense of who Joseph was to the women in his time. I thought it might be a good opportunity for us to think about who Joseph was as a father and a brother and a prophet, and husband and a friend. So I went to Bob Millet.
He's an author and a longtime religion professor at BYU. He has such a grasp of Joseph, and he'll be able to help us put Joseph in perspective with ancient prophets.
[Tape Recorder Click]
Heidi Swinton 15:11
So how did you get that witness in your own heart? How did Bob Millet come to know Joseph Smith was, and is, a prophet of God?
Bob Millet 15:23
My family in my earliest years, we were not active in the Church. I can still remember those days as a young, young child, I remember wanting to go to Church. We finally got back into the Church and I was baptized when I was nine.
And I remember, only a matter of a few weeks later, the ÷bishop approached me and asked me to speak in sacrament meeting. Nine year old.
Heidi Swinton 15:45
You were nine years old.
Bob Millet 15:46
I was nine. I went to dad and said, "Dad, can you help me put a talk together?" And at that point, dad didn't feel like he was acquainted enough with the gospel principles to do so–he later was, but–he said, "You need to go see my brother"–so my uncle Joseph.
Uncle Joseph wrote a little talk for me and I memorized it. You know, it couldn't have been longer than three minutes. I remember standing at the pulpit looking at that body of what must have been 1500 people. Actually was probably less than 150 people, but it scared me to death and I was very, very nervous.
But then I began my talk, and I remember so keenly, sometime during the middle of that three minutes, a feeling came over me of this, "What you're talking about is really important." And I sat down. And I realized that when I sat down, I knew more than when I had stood up, because my talk was on Joseph Smith's First Vision. And I've been in love with Joseph Smith since then,
Heidi Swinton 16:50
Do you ever picture yourself going up into heaven and meeting Joseph Smith? When I was writing about Joseph Smith, one of the things that kept me going was my desire to stand in front of him and simply say, "I did the very best I could with your life." What would you say to Joseph after all this study and the work you've done with the Restoration?
Bob Millet 17:11
Boy, that's a good question. I have thought about it, though. I've dreamt about it. I've had occasions where I'd wake up and say that was really good. I'm sad it's not true. It's just a dream.
I've often thought that I would like to ask him a little bit about how he learned to work with the Spirit early on. When he had received a revelation he was trying so hard to put it into words. Let me give you an example.
Bob Mathews and I were in Independence, Missouri many years ago, and we went to the Reorganized Church library. And Bob was so well known by the Reorganized Church that all we had to do is say, "Would you bring out the JST manuscript and the marked bible?" They'd say, "Sure."
They would bring them out and we were looking through the manuscript–you could see the handwriting of Sidney Rigdon, you could see the handwriting of John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and then suddenly, we came across this little section, in the most beautiful, smaller handwriting. It was Emma's. She had helped him in the translation.
Well, we're reading along looking at things and we come to the gospel of John. And the opening part of the gospel of John is so interesting. Remember that in the Joseph Smith translation of John 1, it's changed quite a bit, instead of, "In the beginning was the word," "In the beginning was the gospel preached."
Well, if you look at that manuscript, things have been written, crossed out. Things have been written, crossed out. It's as if he knew in his heart and mind what needed to be said, didn't know quite how to put it into words. I'd like to ask him about that sometime. What does that like to take a revelation you've received and put it into words? Because I'm convinced that not all things God said to him were dictated. So I have a number of questions I'd like to ask him.
Heidi Swinton 19:00
How does Joseph stack up with profits that are venerated from the Old Testament, and the New Testament? We can accept Elias and Elijah and Noah and Moses, and but you come to Joseph Smith, and some people say, "I can't go there." How do you see him stacking up? How does he fit into that prophetic mold?
Bob Millet 19:21
I have dear friends that have studied the church and its teachings–our Church–I have one friend who says, "I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet with a small p, rather than a large P."
I often ask myself, what is Joseph Smith to us? And what would be something similar to them? If you sit down and think about what prophets were like, if you'd lived in 3000 BC, why would it matter that Enoch was around? Well, he's the one person that can help you build St. Augustine City of God, that is the Zion community. If you'd lived in the days of Moses in 1400 BC, Moses was the person you looked for, to know what God wants you to do.
And I think it's bold and people think it's audacious for us to say, our worship is for the Father and the Son, but we look to the Prophet Joseph Smith, as someone called to be what I call a preeminent prophetic revealer of Christ and the gospel. We have prophets all along through our dispensation, and they are magnificent persons, these prophets. But the dispensation head occupies a position that is supreme in terms of–to this person who almost always rises up to begin a renewal or a restoration after a period of Apostasy.
When the Lord said to Joseph Smith, this generation shall have my word through you, I think that means if the knowledge and power of Jesus Christ is to be known and felt on the earth, in this last time, it's going to come through Joseph Smith, or it won't come.
So I see Joseph Smith, much in the pattern of the prophets. And I think unfortunately, one of the reasons people have trouble accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet, Robert Matthews, Bob Matthews, told me something years ago, and it's just stuck with me. He said, "For some reason, the people of the world, especially religious people, always seem to be one dispensation behind." I think that was always the way with the prophet.
If you lived in the days following the crucifixion of Christ, how would you feel toward Peter, who was the president of the church? Today, they love talking about Peter and Paul, and Jesus. But the idea of today, having a prophet just doesn't fit for them. They're one dispensation behind.
Joseph Smith was, in my mind, he was a prophet's prophet. Joseph Smith was a man who was human, but he was remarkable. He brought people up to where he could see that God was approachable. You know, the language used about Christ in Hebrews, "He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities."
Well, of course, God, the Father is the same way. And unfortunately, much of the religious world has put God off so far in the distance, and he bridged that distance by saying, "No, let me tell you about a different kind of God, the one in heaven that is like us, and feels for you, and loves you, and is patient with you and can make you just like Him." I think Joseph Smith saw the Restoration as a revolution. It was a revolution that would change the whole world.
[Tape Recorder Click]
Heidi Swinton 22:55
Don't you just love listening to Bob Millet talk? In this case, I don't think we're sitting around the kitchen table, I could just see us in the classroom and a whole semester of religious thought and perspective came out in one quick capsule.
And ever since we had that conversation, I've been thinking about Joseph Smith translating the plates and his connection to ancient prophets. I picture him, he's sitting there, he's translating, and he comes to what we know as second Nephi chapter three. And this is where Lehi is talking to his son, Joseph, and he's kind of going back and reshaping for Joseph, the story of Joseph of Egypt. When Joseph of Egypt prophesied of the time that we're in right now, not even Lehi's time, but our time.
So Lehi says, you know, "A choice, seer will I raise up," now this is coming through Lehi, but really coming through Joseph, "And he should be great like unto Moses, and his name shall be called after me and after his father, and he shall be like unto me, for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation." He was talking about Joseph Smith! And Joseph is translating this.
I can just imagine it, and he's reading this, don't you think he would pause? Don't you think he would say, "Whoa, wait a minute! Hey, that's me." You know, Joseph and Joseph, and . . . imagine what that must have felt like for him. For me that says Joseph is a prophet–as Bob Millet says–with a big P and not a little P.
Now we're going to cross over into another country, and we're going to take a look at Joseph and who he was, and who he is, from a different perspective. And we have some new friends from Canada who I am so excited for you to meet.
[Tape Recorder Click]
Jalynne Geddes 25:00
I'm Jalynne Geddes
Harry Michael 25:01
and I'm Harry Michael.
. . .
Jalynne Geddes 25:05
. . . You're supposed to say, "And I'm her dad, Harry Michael."
Harry Michael 25:08
Oh, I'm her da.
Go ahead, start over again. Take number seven.
Jalynne Geddes 25:17
We can do it, dad. We can do it if we work together. Okay, my name is Jalynne Geddes
Harry Michael 25:25
And I'm her dad, and my name is Harry Michael.
Jalynne Geddes 25:28
And we're both originally from Beardy's and Okemasis' Cree Nation.
The Cree Nation in Canada is the largest tribe in all of Canada. There are seven different dialects.
Jalynne Geddes 25:44
I was born and raised in the church.
And I myself joined the church when I was 19 years old when . . . that would be about 1970 here in Saskatoon. Up here we call ourselves First Nations, in US Native American.
Heidi Swinton 26:03
You know, I have to tell you that when I was a young girl, we were living with my grandparents, and my uncle was called on a mission to Canada. And he served in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I loved that name from the time I was a little girl, I would always say "Saskatoon, Saskatchewan," just had such a ring to it. So to finally meet someone from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is part of my bucket list. So thank you.
Jalynne Geddes 26:38
Dad, your making dreams coming true all over the place.
Heidi Swinton 26:40
Well, I hope there's more to that bucket list because I hate to see you kick the bucket. That's what happens after you done it all.
Heidi Swinton 26:52
Oh! But you're the first person I've ever met from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Harry Michael 26:57
Saskatoon is named after native berry. And then the Saskatchewan is a Cree word that means "Swift flowing river," except the word has now been anglicized. Now, I'll say it in "kisiskâciwan." That's how you say Saskatchewan, "Show-catch-eh-won." That's the Cree word.
Jalynne Geddes 27:21
I didn't even know that.
Heidi Swinton 27:23
Wow, that just adds to my love for that name. But let's just start out, how did you someone who was native to Saskatoon, come to learn about and join the Church?
Harry Michael 27:37
When I was about 19 years old, I got a phone call from my late father asking me to attend a baptism. And because of the religion I was raised in, I thought I was going to be attending an infant baptism. And I never asked, I was on my own already so when I showed up at the chapel, I found that both my parents and my younger siblings are all dressed in white. And that was my first exposure to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I didn't even know what a Mormon was, never even heard the word Mormon, let alone never heard about the Book of Mormon. I remember, at the age of 19, and these two young men that were my age, they're about 19 years old, just like I was, and they were telling me about these gold plates. And they gave me a copy of a Book of Mormon and they said, "This is a translation. We want you to read these verses," so I did. And then on our next discussion I was reading, they asked me to tell them what I had read. And I began to tell them, and but then I couldn't.
Because for the first time, I felt the spirit. I didn't understand it then, but I couldn't talk. Because I was start . . . wow . . . it's like I'm going now cry.
I think I was searching for something as a boy, and as a young man, but I didn't know what it was. I never did find the answer, until I became a member of a Church, until I became an adult.
Heidi Swinton 29:45
How do you feel about Joseph Smith? And can you explain why?
Harry Michael 29:50
The first time I heard about Joseph Smith, it was nothing unusual for a young boy to have–at least in my culture–to have a profound spiritual experience. Because, you know, back in the old days, young men were conditioned and trained to seek visions and to become warriors. Because a true warrior was an individual who took care of others, and even to a point of putting his own life on the line. So he provided for others.
There was also a profound reliance on spiritual things like ceremonies and praying on a daily basis. And, and those are the kind of things that would make you a true human being and a true human being became a warrior.
Heidi Swinton 30:56
Would you describe him as one who had those qualities or characteristics?
At the time that he had the vision, I would describe him as a . . . and I don't know, use a word in my own language, "Nâpehkâsowiyiniw," someone who was training and learning to become a warrior, and in a true sense of a warrior.
So at the age of 14, I would say Joseph Smith hadn't reached the point of being a warrior, but was training as one.
Jalynne Geddes 31:40
Dad, what was that–I forget, what was that word that you said? "Ska-peu"? What was it?
Harry Michael 31:42
Jalynne Geddes 31:43
Nâpehkâsowiyiniw. Just as I was listening to you talk and describing, because those are the things I remember my parents saying growing up or telling us about, like our own prophecies and our own community and leaders that we had, and . . . my parents were very–the way they taught us what like a prophecy was, you didn't just have to be a member of our faith to receive that inspiration from God.
And so I was listening, as I was listening to what my dad was saying. I feel like in the way he's describing what that is, like a warrior in training, I feel like things kind of clicked when I heard my dad talking, because I don't need our leaders to be perfect. I don't need our warriors to be perfect, because we're all in training.
And so I really appreciated that component, and it kind of all, like made sense when I heard my dad speaking about what, what Joseph was to him at 14, like he was a warrior in training. And I have a tender love for him. And I think, as I've gotten to know him more, and I've gotten to know his humanity more, and even his imperfection, that love has grown. And I know people struggle with that imperfection.
But for me, it shows me my potential, through my own imperfections. And so I feel a real tender love that he was able to accomplish so much with so much against him. And it gives me a stronger testimony of the Atonement and of God using us. Anyway, that–as my dad was was talking about what that is, that kind of struck me that that's the, that's the foundation that they gave me to look at Joseph with, with really gracious eyes and really loving eyes.
Heidi Swinton 33:39
Harry, you've listened to Jalynne speak about Joseph Smith like that, what does that feel like for you, as a dad, a teacher, a warrior?
Harry Michael 33:50
Well, I think it's one of the things that I hoped–both my wife and I hoped–for all our children is for them to gain their own testimony of our living prophets, starting with Joseph Smith and with President Nelson, and others who have led and held the keys to the kingdom of God here on earth.
And I think the most important thing for me is having a testimony of the creator, of Jesus Christ. Of who He is, of the atoning sacrifice of the Creator, of Jesus Christ. Because, you know, He suffered so much for all of us. And I think for me, I would like each of my children and grandchildren to have a testimony of their Redeemer. That Jesus Christ is their personal Savior, and that we are led by living prophets.
So you know, it doesn't matter who the prophet is, if it's Joseph Smith, or Spencer W. Kimball, a man that I loved for years and years and years and still do for different reasons. And with President Nelson, I think is important. We all have a testimony of who a prophet is. But also, we need to remember what the Savior is in each of our lives, as nobody has done greater than the Savior.
Heidi Swinton 35:32
How, how did Joseph Smith, or how has Joseph Smith–perhaps through his teachings, or through his life–helped you draw closer to the Savior? Or his teachings helped you face the difficulties in your life?
Jalynne Geddes 35:48
When I think about Joseph, and what he faced in his life, and how I can apply that to my own, I keep thinking about how he was always like, he was always steadfast, he always went forward, he always moved forward. And we know through the scriptures, we know through our historical accounts of him that he faced a lot of persecution. He faced a lot of trials, but he never wavered.
He . . . I'm sure he went through–because he's human–he went through feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion, but to the very end, he sealed his testimony with his blood. And I think the fact that he kept going, was my biggest example from his life. But when I face a difficulty in mine, I can keep going. I have that example to learn from.
Heidi Swinton 36:45
Has there been anything in your lives–this is for both of you–has there been anything that's been hard to accept with Joseph Smith? And what have you done about it?
Jalynne Geddes 36:58
So the difficulties that I might face with Joseph might not necessarily be with Joseph himself. I feel like sometimes we've built up our leaders, just in our culture, as people who aren't human, who are superhuman. When really they were just human.
And I think that's just my biggest difficulty is that sometimes we do set ourselves up for brittle testimonies by really not talking about our leaders in a way that lets us sit with their humanity. Because Christ was our only Savior. Jesus is the only living person who walked the earth who was perfect. And so I think if we have that as our guiding star, as our core, we don't need anybody else to be perfect. And we don't need to build anybody else up as if they're perfect. Because they were just human, like us.
Heidi Swinton 37:55
Harry, how about you? Has there been things about Joseph that you've had to just put on the shelf?
Harry Michael 38:02
Actually, I, I don't look for flaws or imperfections of any of our leaders. Like I don't look for those flaws in my Bishop or in my stake president. And I certainly don't look for them in President Nelson or in Joseph Smith, you know, but yet at the same time, I think Jalynne is absolutely correct in saying that these are men who have, as they were doing their calling, and not yet achieved perfection, but it's like climbing a mountain. And if I was to compare myself with any of them, I'm more near the foot of the mountain than they are, they're probably more near the peak of the mountain. So I'm fortunate if I can even see where they're at.
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Heidi Swinton 39:03
Can you see why I loved talking with them? I learned so much. There's so much wisdom going on with Harry and the way he explains things and what he's taught his family. You can hear it coming out of Jalynne.
When we first talked with them, I knew they were believers. And I love how Harry combines spirituality with being a warrior. I have to say, I will never see Joseph the same way. He's a warrior. He's a warrior for Jesus Christ.
So let's go back to the beginning. And think about the words that describe Joseph. For Jenny, he was a visionary. For Bob, restorer. For Jalynne and Harry–warrior. And for me, my word is witness. Because that's what Joseph is all about. He's a witness of the living Christ.
I can almost hear the Lord's words to Joseph in the Kirtland temple when he said, "I am He who liveth, I am He who was slain. I am your advocate with the Father." Coming to know Joseph–who he was–helps us draw closer to Jesus Christ.
Maybe you still don't have your word yet, but it's out there somewhere. And the word connects you to Joseph, and Joseph connects you to Jesus. Because when you think about it, Jesus Christ is the word.
So here's the invitation. Take some time this week, or whenever you can, to think about who Joseph is to you, and to find your word. Maybe if that feels daunting, you can do what I did, and ask some of your friends who feel like they found their place at the table with Joseph already.
So whatever you do, I know you'll find your word. You might pray about it. I'm going to pray for you. Because I've got your back and you'll find your word.
In our next episode, this is number three, we're going to start doing some traveling, because what better way to get to know somebody than to stand where they stood. From the banks of the Mississippi to the streets of Nauvoo, we're going to meet up with some friends who've walked where Joseph walked.
Didn't you love my amazing friends in this episode? We heard from Jenny Reeder, Bob Millet, Jalynne Geddes and her father Harry Michael. If you want to see their bios, make sure to check out LDS living.com/Joseph.
"Joseph" is a Bookshelf plus original written and hosted by me Heidi Swinton, and produced by KaRyn Lay, Erika Free, and Katie Lambert. Mix at Six studios did our sound design and mixing and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. I can't wait for you to join us next time. But in the meantime, remember to stand by Joseph.