Spirit of Power

Jean Hélion (French, Couterne 1904–1987 Paris)

The following is an example of a submission for our Winter 2019 writing contest. You can find more details about the contest here

2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I paced my 13-foot-wide rowhouse from end-to-end, back and forth, exhausted. I had been carrying my nine-month-old son for hours as he screamed. There was nothing seriously wrong with him, just congestion that was making him uncomfortable and preventing sleep. I’d checked with the pediatrician and there was nothing to do but make him as comfortable as possible and wait for his body to fight off the virus. My arm muscles burned but the crying became worse whenever I sat down. So I paced.

My three-year-old daughter’s head moved back and forth with me as I paced. She was frustrated with the situation and clearly reaching her breaking point. I knew I would soon have two crying children on my hands and I felt like I might collapse when that happened. I felt incredibly helpless.

In my head, I reviewed who might help me. My husband was a medical resident and in the middle of a 30 hour shift. I wasn’t aware of who my visiting/home teachers were since they had never contacted us. We deeply loved our ward but it was one that barely had the resources to cover major crises of evictions and hospitalizations, and sometimes not even that. My family was too far away. My friends mostly lived on the other side of the city.  

As the list of resources seemed to drain away, they were replaced by a different list. Into my mind floated the words, “You are a woman of faith. Do not fear what you can do.”

Wrapping my arms around my son, I stated his full name and then said, “As your mother and as an endowed daughter of God, I give you a blessing. I bless your body to be healed and for you to find rest. May God’s peace be upon you.” Immediately, the crying subsided. My son gasped for air and then sighed, his body melting against mine. His arms draped over my shoulders, he gently patted my back and then rested his head against my shoulder. Within a few minutes, he was asleep.

As I pondered this moment over the following months, I made a promise to God. I had already been given the gift of power, love, and a sound mind. I would do my best to never again accept any cultural limitations of what I could or could not do in the service or search of the divine. I would not worry over whether my ministry was socially appropriate. I would not fear my own ability to act.

I believe that anything that narrows up our idea of what a person can or ought to do in an effort to serve God ought to be plucked up and cast out. Women, in particular, seem to sometimes fear that by acting in a way that has not been officially prescribed, they are doing something wrong. Given how tightly bound the role of women has been in the Church, this is understandable. But it is a tragedy. We do not need to fear the power of God that is within us.

I have participated in many blessings since first blessing my son. Every time, I have felt a little less afraid. Every time, I have felt more confident in the power of God that was given to me through endowment. Every time, I have felt God’s love pass through my hands. Every time, I have been grateful for a sound mind that could understand that prompting half a dozen years ago.

Submissions should be 700 – 2400 words and sent in Google Doc or Word for to exponentiieditor@gmail.com by October 15, 2018. The first place winner of the contest will receive a one-week stay at Anam Cara, a writers’ retreat center in Ireland owned by former Exponent II editor Sue Booth-Forbes. More information about the retreat center can be found at www.anamcararetreat.com.

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4 Responses

  1. Jason K. says:


  2. Shawn B. says:

    Good for you, well done.

  3. Olivia says:

    “ We do not need to fear the power of God that is within us.”
    This is lovely, thank you for sharing ❤️

  4. Rori says:

    Brought me to tears. Thank you.

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