Monday, March 25, 2013

Beautiful

Last Saturday, we had a stake Relief Society Activity. It was so amazing! They shared the Jenny Phillips program, Beautiful. They had decorated the gym so beautifully. It didn't look like a church gym. They had the ward Relief Society Presidencies come early to help assemble the lunches and it is a wonderful thing to watch the Relief Society (or any church organization, really) work together and accomplish something. There is so much goodness in our church.

The program Beautiful is based on a book written by Jenny Phillips. She says in the book that at one point after having her second child, she had torn a magazine clipping out and hung it up as an example of how she wanted to look again. But it just made her feel awful. Every time she looked at it, she felt bad that she didn't fit into the world's description of beauty (at least in her own mind). Then one day she was reading the scriptures and realized that what creates true beauty is becoming like the Savior, becoming charitable.

Beautiful tells the story of two young girls. They are enrolled in the King's beautification program. They are trying to find 10 keys, and when they have found all ten keys, they will be beautiful. Charlotte and Jane are both working on the program...all the women in the land are. Then one day a Scholar comes to town. He says he knows better and faster ways to become beautiful. If you will pay for his classes, you can become beautiful. He says the kings ways are outdated and take too long. He sets up a shop and offers classes. He hangs advertisements of beautiful women in immodest clothing. Soon, the women in the village begin to visit his shop. At first, most think they will continue with the King's training program AND use the scholar's methods. But Jane notices that you can't...you must choose one or the other. (Matt. 6:24: No man can serve two masters for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.") Of course, the King represents our Father in Heaven and the Scholar represents Satan and his cunning tactics to confuse us as to who we are, what is truly important, and so on. And it is working... there is evidence of the adversary's success all around us...the media tries to tell us what beauty is, there is a lack of modesty, and so many other problems. We, as members of the church, often fall into these traps too.

I absolutely loved the ending. I won't give away the "key" to true beauty...you'll have to read the book to find out... but I love that at the end, Jane is able to look into a mirror and see herself as the King sees her. If only, every person I know and love could have that experience...to see themselves as God sees them, even if only for a moment. Again, from Sheri Dew's book, No Doubt About It:
As a people we talk and sing constantly about being sons and daughters of God. ...And yet, with all our talk, do we really believe? Do we really understand? Has this transcendent doctrine about who we are, meaning who we have always been and therefore who we may become, penetrated our hearts? Our spirits long for us to remember the truth about who we are, because the way we see ourselves, or our sense of identity, affects everything we do.(page 36-37).

She also quotes President Kimball who said, "Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to" (Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).

She then goes on to say,
I cannot imagine that we who have been called to bear and rear and nurture and teach and lead a chosen generation of children, youth, and women this late in the final dispensation were not among those deemed noble and great.
Noble and great.Courageous and determined. Faithful and fearless. That is who you are and who you have always been. And understanding it can change your life, because this knowledge carries a confidence that cannot be duplicated any other way. (page 42)

She reflects that most of us probably don't feel so noble and great, and then points out that many prophets and others in the scripture didn't feel noble or great, either. But they were. Enoch was young and slow of speech. Esther feared to go into her husband, the king, until Mordecai said, "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).

Sister Dew says this about the adversary:
Satan of course knows how spiritually potent the knowledge of our divine identity is. He hates women of the noble birthright. He hates us because he is almost out of time, while we are en route to everlasting glory and a fulness of joy. He hates us because of the influence we have on husbands and children, family and friends, the Church and even the world. It is no secret to him that we are the Lord's secret weapon.

Thus it should not surprise us that the master of deceit is going all out to keep us from comprehending the majesty of who we are.

But I know that while I have had experiences where I caught a glimpse of who I am and who I have always been (I LOVE that so much!), it is easy to get discouraged, to feel like there are others who are more _____ than me (beautiful, smart, talented, righteous, etc). As I study the scriptures, pray, serve, and attend the temple, it seems it becomes a little easier to remember who I am, to listen to the spirit whisper that I do have worth and that my role is important. If only there were a way to remember this every day, and to help my own children as well as all of the women I serve to see this too.