Sister Okazaki: 'Learn by faith, study'

Self-reliance comes from "learning by study" and "learning by faith," counseled Chieko N. Okazaki, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

Speaking at the General Relief Society Meeting Sept. 24, Sister Okazaki quoted from D&C 88:118: " `Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.'"Everyone involved in the Relief Society literacy effort knows that literacy takes both study and faith. We need to cultivate both of them."

To illustrate her point, Sister Okazaki used two oars, one with the word "FAITH" written on it, and the other with "STUDY" written on it. "What happens if you try to paddle a boat using only one oar? You go around and around in circles," she added while imitating a paddling motion with one oar.

"If you paddle hard, you go fast. If you paddle slowly, you turn gently. But you still just go around in circles. It's the same with trying to make study replace faith, or trying to exercise faith but without study."

Sister Okazaki explained that women need to develop both the gift of faith and the gift of study. "We need to exercise both study and faith to become self-reliant. We need to understand their relationship to each other and to us."

She then spoke of the aspect of families and employment in relation to self-reliance. "We have faith in our prophets," she explained. "They have counseled us that mothers with young children are especially needed at home. They remind us of the great needs of our children and their vulnerabilities during their growing years. The importance of the mother in building a secure, loving, stimulating environment in which children can grow up as healthy and self-reliant individuals is very important.

"But not all situations are ideal," she continued. "Not all women are mothers and not all mothers have children at home. Furthermore, not all mothers can make the choice to be home with their children all of the time. Often circumstances constrain their choices.

"Perhaps study and faith may be resources for a searching sister, but let us never judge another. We do not know her circumstances. Let our Relief Societies be supportive and sharing. We are all in the Relief Society boat, and it needs all of us to paddle just as hard as we can. Let us value everyone's contributions."

Sister Okazaki said: "Sisters, we need to keep growing. Part of our mortal responsibility is to increase in learning and wisdom. We need to use the two oars of study and faith so that our boats will not be swamped by the storms of life. We need to teach our children to use these same oars. Let's encourage them to value education and to increase in learning and wisdom through study and faith.

"Some of you may feel that your chance to gain more learning has passed you by. It is not so. You can learn at any age. No one individual has enough power to control all of her life circumstances, but she can meet those circumstances with confidence if she has the appropriate tools and trusts herself to use them properly."

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