General Women’s Session: Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I love that President Uchtdorf addressed us as “dear friends,” and that he said, “I always look forward to this session of Conference.”

I’m glad someone looks forward to it. I usually dread it, and up until this point in the evening I’d roundly disliked the session. My stake had put together a heartfelt and meaningful service project beforehand, which was the only reason I’d left my cozy living room, and I was reconsidering ever taking my daughters to a Women’s Session again. Already I’d had to apologize to my 8-year-old for the dead mother/starving infant story in President Wixom’s talk, and had suppressed giggles when Sister McConkie said, re temptation, “Turn it off!” (Trust me, it’s very funny if you’ve seen the Book of Mormon musical.)

The story President Uchtdorf told was about a young girl, Ava, and her Great-Aunt Rose. But it was really about the joy and hope that Rose felt as she studied the gospel, and about being happy in the work we’re all doing, whether it’s the work we expected to be doing or not. Within the story was a stark contrast to Sister McConkie’s talk,  in which she told young women and girl-children that the most divine thing they can do is prepare for marriage and a family: an example of a single woman who was happy with her life, who had done and continued to do good and great works, and who had learned that faith and hope generate love.

It was a wonderful parable, and a wonderful talk. I’m just disappointed that it hadn’t been given by one of the women. When are we going to stop telling girls that their worth lies in their ability to be wives and mothers? When are we going to start encouraging girls to plan for meaningful careers? When are we going to take it upon ourselves to tell powerful stories about women, rather than wait for male leaders to interject them at the end of our meetings?

Libby

On prolonged sabbatical from her career in arts administration, Libby is a seamstress, editor, entrepreneur, and community volunteer. She has a husband and three children.

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11 Responses

  1. K Corbett says:

    The person in power (Uchtdorf) is actually the only one who can do or say anything not 100% within the narrow bell curve of orthodoxy. Great that he gave such a nice talk. But within this system even the women who might think that way can’t really say it. Yet another reason why women should be more a *real* part of church governance.

  2. EmilyCC says:

    What was your service project? That might have helped encourage me to go, too.

    • Libby says:

      Our stake Relief Society presidency asked a local hospital what they needed. We ended up making and filling quick duffel bags with clean clothes, a jacket, a stuffed animal, and basic toiletries for women who’ve been brought to the hospital in some very difficult situations, including sex trafficking; making stuffed felt hearts for cancer patients; collecting stuffed animals for children placed in foster care; and collecting children’s books for the hospital’s waiting rooms. It was a great way to have everyone involved, from the 8-year-olds up.

  3. Mary says:

    I really liked President Uchtdorf’s talk too. During one or two of the earlier talks, I kept thinking how emphasizing our eternal happiness and reward is good, but what about those who will remain single or childless for all of their mortality? It seemed President Uchtdorf responded perfectly to my concern for those sisters when he said that now is a part of eternity and we can be happy now and not wait for some eternal happiness after we die.

    I also really appreciate the nuance he adds to things. I thought it was wise of him to add the part of the story where aunt Rose says that she didn’t have clinical depression and admits she could not talk herself out of that. It’s important to recognize that some types of sadness cannot be overcome simply through faith and gratitude but require additional help. Having faith and gratitude are wonderful principles.

  4. CMP says:

    I always love President Uchtdorf’s talks, including this one. I look forward to his messages of grace, compassion and loving one another. His teachings always seem so nutrient dense.

    I’ve been surprised at how his tone and content change when he’s addressing just the women, however. It’s to be expected with any male member of the Q12, I guess, but I’m always kinda disappointed and surprised when his messages seem more “watered down” than those he shares at General or Priesthood sessions. What did the men get last Priesthood session? Probably the best talk of the whole conference, “On Being Genuine” and before that “Pride and the Priesthood”
    While the girls/women get the “Happily ever After” “Happiness your Heritage” and “Forget me not”
    He’s very sincere, loving, and generous in these talks specifically to women, but even then…..the pedestalizing is still coming through. It makes me wonder if he considers women only capable of hearing “lighter” material, or if perhaps he’s worried about coming down too hard on them?

  5. Robyn Amis says:

    Actually, Pres. Uchtdorf is not the only one that can give that kind of talk. Back in the day, Chieko Okasaki used to give “that kind of talk” almost every time she spoke at conference. It was wonderful. The present RS Presidency seems much more timid. Pres. Oscarson of the YW seems to harken back to those days once in awhile. At least she uses a normal voice instead of a sing-songy primary voice when giving talks in conference.

  1. October 6, 2015

    […] General Women’s Session was reviewed by the Exponent last week here, here, here and […]

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