Who are the most influential women in your world? I checked out The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women; Forbes magazine claims their list “isn’t about celebrity or popularity; it’s about influence. Queen Rania of Jordan (No. 76), for instance, is perhaps the most listened-to woman in the Middle East; her Twitter feed has 600,000 followers.” Powerful moguls and media queens may be changing the course of history; however, they are invisible in my little world. Who influences you? Let’s compare our lists. Here’s a few powerful and influential women from my list:
ONE: As I embraced the light after crawling out of the murky sewers of Babylon, I felt like a wobbly toddler, just learning to walk. Desperate prayers were answered by a serene angel who helped steady me as I took a few tentative steps, focusing on the loving, outstretched arms of the Savior. I knew Sister Brown was an angel because she glowed. The Spirit would enfold me in an aura of love as I listened carefully to Sister Brown’s Relief Society lessons, analyzing how I needed to change to become just like her. If she prayed and read the scriptures every day, then I would too. If Sister Brown treated the Sabbath like it was a precious and holy gift, then I would too. If Sister Brown got spiritual power from attending the temple, then I would receive my endowments and go to the temple regularly, even if it required driving to Los Angeles on a freeway dotted with psycho drivers who didn’t value human life. No sacrifice was too big if I could become like Sister Brown, who never even knew that she was my spiritual mentor.
TWO: Growing up in a home of negative voices, I have struggled with the lingering dregs of my childhood. I wanted to be a positive and patient mother–and often I was–but other times I felt like Wanda the Witch Woman. Discovering M. Catherine Thomas, whose father was an alcoholic, helped me walk with a kinder cadence. She wrote in Spiritual Lightening about her own journey of healing:
“To choose positive, affirming, tolerant, forgiving, Spirit-filled energy over negative energy is to choose godliness over evil. I think it’s that simple. There are finally only two forces at work on us, and they are continually at work; and until we learn to discern and reject most negative energy, we will be victimized by it. (142)
THREE: The presidency had just been changed; the BYU Women’s Conference program promised Chieko Okazaki, but instead we had to listen to some chick named Sheri Dew. Soon I had another spiritual mentor who was smart and savvy. When Sheri Dew wrote that there may be nothing as important as “having a vision, manifest by the Spirit, of who we are, of who we have always been, and of who we can become,” I accepted her challenge. The Spirit pierced the veil and gave me a glimpse of who I was, who I’ve always been, and who I could become. Truman Madsen said, “The cruelest thing you can do to a human being is to make him forget that he or she is the son or daughter of a king.”
FOUR: She had no idea that I was in mourning when she called, but after hearing my story, the Spirit inspired my visiting teacher to share powerful impressions with me. Jesus Christ had sent a spiritual mentor to help strengthen my feeble knees and heal my broken heart.
FIVE: Long ago I saw a documentary about Mother Theresa, the nun who earned the Nobel Peace Prize back when actions spoke louder than words. I immediately wanted to consecrate my life to some greater cause, but she believed that “we can do no great things, only small things with great love.” So I focused on being a little pencil in the hands of God, which isn’t easy when you’re almost six feet tall. Mother Teresa taught that:
“He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything—and it’s really hard—sometimes it’s a broken pencil. He has to sharpen it a little more. But be a little instrument in His hands so that He can use you anytime, anywhere. … We have only to say Yes to Him.”
Mother Teresa once cleaned the hut of a lonely man. An unlit lamp sat in his hut. When she asked why he sat in darkness, he replied, “Nobody comes here.” She promised to have the sisters visit him if he would promise to light the lamp. Later he sent a message: “Tell my friend, the light she lit in my life is still burning!”
The light my spiritual mentors have lit in my life is still burning. In my little world, no one is more powerful and influential than a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ.
Who are the most influential women in your life? Who are your spiritual mentors and how have they influenced your spiritual journey?