Relief Society Lesson: The Eye of Faith By Elder Neil L. Andersen
Guest Post by Descent
Sometimes Relief Society instructors mention how they have to dig to find a lesson that they find uplifting to share. This is one of those talks. Due to that, I am going to lead with a powerful message that I can glean from this talk and one that I believe is a needed message to emphasize at church.
There is One Who Understands
There is One who knows your burdens because of His sacrifice made in the garden and on the cross. As you seek Him and keep His commandments, I promise you that He will bless you and lift the burdens too heavy to bear alone. He will give you eternal friends and opportunities to serve. More important, He will fill you with the powerful Spirit of the Holy Ghost and shine His heavenly approval upon you.
Elder Andersen describes several situations that a small but significant portion of the church experience personally: namely; homosexuality, gender dysphoria, pregnancy in the absence of marriage and couples living together before or in the absence of marriage. The message of most importance to individuals in each of these situations is “There is One who knows your burdens.” Because of the Atonement, Christ possesses perfect understanding and perfect empathy. He does not wish us to bear our burdens alone. He is with us in and through all circumstances.
Bear One Another’s Burdens
In addition to the comfort provided by the Atonement, Paul teaches that the disciples of Christ are called to “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil
l the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) The Book of Mormon also teaches us that part of our baptismal covenant is “to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things.”
When it comes to circumstances which differ from the ideals taught by the church, Elder Ballard in a BYU Devotional acknowledged “we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord.”
It is our duty to conduct ourselves such that all of God’s children feel that they have a home in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Ballard also expressed this wish: “I want anyone who is a member of the church who is gay or lesbian to know I believe you have a place in the kingdom and recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do. We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing.” May we follow Elder Ballard’s advice we must listen a to and understand our LGBT brothers and sisters so that Christ can share some of his limitless empathy with us.
In a recent Liahona article entitled “Developing the Empathy to Minister”, church members were encouraged to “lift others as we try to understand what they are experiencing and show that we are willing to walk with them.”
Empathy extends to all of the minority groups Elder Andersen named in his talk. As Elder Ballard stated, each of them fit into the Lord’s Church and in the Lord’s kingdom and it is our responsibility to be welcoming and loving. At the end, RS instructors can testify of Christ and His Atonement and the power of empathy to help us keep the second great commandment– to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”