Sister Joy D. Jones asked Latter-day Saint women across the globe to “not be confused about who we are.”
“While it is often easier to be spiritually passive than it is to put forth the spiritual effort to remember and embrace our divine identity, we cannot afford that indulgence in these latter days,” said Sister Jones, Primary general president.
Speaking during the General Women’s Session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference on Sept. 23, Sister Jones addressed the topic, “Value Beyond Measure.”
She recalled meeting Mariama while visiting the country of Sierra Leone in West Africa.
“Mariama, led with such love, grace, and confidence, it was easy to assume she had long been a member of the Church,” Sister Jones said, noting, however, that Mariama was baptized in 2014.
Mariama embraced the gospel after hearing a lesson about chastity and receiving a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, said Sister Jones.
The two fundamental teachings that led to Mariama’s conversion were points the world often sees as “irrelevant, outdated or inconvenient,” she said. “But Mariama … discovered her worth through divine principles. Her value as a daughter of God was revealed to her through the Holy Ghost.”
Sister Jones then spoke of Renu from India, who did not feel special before investigating the Church.
“When I learned the gospel, and learned that I was a daughter of our Heavenly Father, it changed me. Suddenly I felt so special — God had actually created me and had created my soul and my life with value and purpose,” Renu told Sister Jones.
Finally, Sister Jones spoke of Taiana, a young women with cancer she met at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.
“Taiana was a junior in high school when she was diagnosed with cancer. She fought a brave battle for 18 months before passing away a few short weeks ago. Taiana was full of light and love. … Taiana sought to become like her Savior whom she so dearly loved. During our visits I learned that Taiana understood her divine worth. Knowing she was a daughter of God gave her peace and courage to face her overwhelming trial in the positive way she did.”
Sister Jones said that Mariama, Renu and Taiana “teach us that the Spirit will confirm to each of us individually our divine worth.”
When women truly know they are a daughter of God, it will affect every aspect of their life and guide them to service, she said.
Sister Jones asked the congregation to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. “They are not the same,” she said. “Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. …
“On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less. We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact.”
Sister Jones said no matter what, God’s children always have worth in His eyes.
“Despite this marvelous truth, how many of us struggle, from time to time, with negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves? I do. … Thinking small about ourselves does not serve us well. Instead it holds us back.”
In contrast, the Lord assures His children that when they have virtuous thoughts, He will bless them with confidence, even the confidence to know who they really are, said Sister Jones. “When we feel the Spirit, … we recognize that what we feel comes from our loving Heavenly Father,” she said. “We acknowledge and praise Him for blessing us. We then rejoice that we are counted worthy to receive.”
Although members seldom, if ever, receive huge spiritual manifestations in their lives, they can frequently savor the sweet whisperings of the Holy Ghost, verifying the truth of their spiritual worth, she said.
“If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives,” said Sister Jones. “He saves us from ourselves.
“Let me reemphasize: if the pull of the world is stronger than the faith and trust we have in the Savior, then the pull of the world will prevail every time. If we choose to focus on our negative thoughts and doubt our worth, instead of clinging to the Savior, it becomes more difficult to feel the impressions of the Holy Ghost. ...
"May we, as sisters, 'Be faithful in Christ; … may Christ lift us up, and may His sufferings and death, and His mercy and long-suffering and the hope of His glory and of eternal life, rest in our minds forever.' (4 Moroni 9:25) As the Savior lifts us to higher ground, we can see more clearly, not only who we are, but that we are closer to Him than we ever imagined."