On Saturday we had a Women’s Conference for our area and I was asked to be one of the speakers.
I have a love/hate relationship with things like this. I love to push myself to think through things in more depth. I love learning and growing through that responsibility, but also, it’s uncomfortable. I also have a love/hate thing with uncomfortable things. Ha!
It was mostly streamed through a link with a very small masked audience in attendance (covid) which for some reason made me a little flustered up there, but hope I was able to touch the hearts of some. I figured I may as well share my thoughts here as well, in case anyone is interested, and for record’s sake.
So here you go!
I’d like to introduce you to my mother. Here she is on the day she brought home her ninth baby from the hospital:
This is an old picture, of course, but I love the light that is shining from my mom’s face. It’s almost as if her light is reflecting from each of us.
She is my hero for many reasons, but I’d like to share one of them today.
Growing up, for every Fast Sunday I can remember, we gathered to have our own “family testimony meeting.” We met up in the living room on our stiff, scratchy couches in there, and that room filled up with so much love we couldn’t even tell our seats were stiff and scratchy after a while 🙂
I loved the feeling in that room, and I think what made it the most heavenly was when my mother shared her thoughts.
She shared them with so much love, mostly all woven into Jesus, and I don’t remember a time she didn’t tear up.
She never had to tell me what a “testimony” was. She didn’t have to explain who Jesus was. I could feel of His goodness through her words, and the way they spread out and infused into the room.
In this, my mother created a place of security of all of us kids.
When we make a place sacred, it becomes safe.
In the talk this conference is based upon, “Embrace the future with Faith,” President Nelson talks about the “places of security” Captain Moroni [in The Book of Mormon] creates for his people at a time when their lives and their freedom is in grave jeopardy.
The enemy looms larger than life, with and vow to defeat the Nephites. It would seem to any onlooker that the Nephites would be a lost cause.
But Moroni instructs them to build huge banks of earth around what is most precious to them.
Around those banks they dig deep ditches.
They build timbers on top of the ridges.
They frame pickets to be strong and high on top of the timbers.
They build towers that overlook the pickets.
They even go so far as to create fortifications on the borders by the sea.
That is some serious protection!
And because of it, the Nephites were able to stay strong in the midst of so much danger surrounding them.
President Nelson invites us to build our own “places of security,” and describes that as being anywhere you can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost and be guided by Him.
Oh! How we need that guidance!
We need it in our relationships with friends and family, strangers on the street and social media.
We need it in our hearts as we work through all the refining fires of trials, big and small, that come our way.
We need it to fill up our homes.
In 1996 President Hinckley said:
“You sisters are the real builders of the nation wherever you live, for you have created homes of strength and peace and security. These become the very sinew of a nation.”
President Nelson says:
“When your home becomes a personal sanctuary of faith–where the Spirit resides—your home becomes the first line of defense.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful lot of responsibility to me!
Especially when sometimes this is how my house looks:
But if you think about it, the spirit can be felt smack dab in the middle of chaos. As long as that chaos it accompanied by love.
I’m going to show you a quick video of our home when my kids were younger that was definitely not calm and “holy” in the traditional sense, yet I believe it was a place of security:
I love this video because I know I’m biased, but to me, I can almost feel the Spirit that was there. Despite the chaos, all the junk strewn across the counter, the raggedy outfits they were wearing, there are three things that hit me that made that kitchen a place of security:
1) Those kids knew (finally!) what they were supposed to be doing, they had boundaries. I think this was when we were in the thick of dinner-job follow through. We had gone through all kinds of versions. (As a matter of fact, we are STILL changing versions!), but they knew what they were supposed to be doing. Who is in charge of the dishes, who clears the table, who entertains the little pesky sister 🙂
In order to create places of security we have to draw boundaries. We feel secure when we can learn to manage our time and resources. We feel secure when we give (or are given) boundaries. I remember having a bitter/sweet relationship with my curfew. It was often tough to be home by a certain time, yet there was something about it that made me feel safe.
We need to make boundaries with people who don’t make us feel safe.
We need to create boundaries with how we spend our time, how much time we will let in social media, podcasts, things that can be good and wonderful, but things that can take us away from what’s most important.
***When we give ourselves boundaries, we create places of security.
2) Those kids of mine in that video were also a team. They were working together, just as those Nephites had to work together. (There would be no other way to build so many layers of security had they not worked together.) You can tell that those kids felt like they belonged.
They were part of a clan.
This creates security.
In our family we have a family motto that helps us feel part of something larger than ourselves. We say it in unison together and even have actions to go with it. In this way we feel that we are working together. And each of us is important.
***When we work together in harmony and seek to understand each other, we create places of security.
3) Those kids also felt love.
No one cared that they were still wearing leotards from their gymnastics class or whether their dance moves were right on the beat. They knew they belonged.
We create security when we give that love unconditionally. One of my favorite stories is when my brother-in-law did something that merited him taking his son aside and apologizing for something he had done. He made himself vulnerable. He showed love.
Within a couple days, that son of his pulled his dad aside and let him know some things that had been weighing him down. His dad had created a safe place of unconditional love where he could feel comfortable talking about his mistakes. And in the process, learning how to fix them.
I love this quote I found on Instagram:
***When we give unconditional love and seek to love more than to correct, we create places of security.
Let’s go back to how President Nelson described “places of security” as “anywhere you can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost and be guided by Him.”
Of course, we can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost anywhere if we are still enough to seek and listen. We can create security in our work environments, in our extended families, in our church congregations, in line at the grocery store, the sky’s the limit!
I love how my sister-in-law created her own “place of security” at a time when she needed it most. She was in a time of life where she knew she needed a place to commune with God. She had three little toddlers crawling all over her at all hours in the day and not much quiet. So she found a spot in the basement storage room where she created her own place of security.
That place became holy for her because she took the time to commune with God there. She practiced stillness so that she could build up her own “banks of earth topped with timber and pickets and towers” like the Nephites did for when the winds would come upon her. And that “taking time” created a foundation that has helped her immensely in life as she continues to make “places of security” for her family.
I love the phrase “TAKE TIME.”
This will mean something different and unique to each of us, but are we “taking time” for sacredness? For some this may mean creating a space like my sister-in-law did, for others it may mean concentrating on kneeling prayer, for others it could be yoga or meditation. The important thing is that we need to take time to let the Spirit in. To let Jesus in, like my mom did all those years ago during our family testimony meetings.
When the Lamanites came up against the prepared Nephites, they were “astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security.”
May we go forth and create our own unique (and astonishing!) kinds of secure places like those Nephites did long ago. Safety from the storms that surround us and will continue to billow and push us off kilter. We have the power, like my mother did as she teared up in our family testimony meetings with her love of Jesus, to connect with God to create security wherever we go.