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Sister Barbara Thompson: 'Mind the gap'

Additional coverage of the Relief Society meeting:

President Henry B. Eyring

Sister Julie B. Beck

Sister Silvia H. Allred

In order to stay safe, sisters of the Church need to "mind the gap," said Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the general Relief Society presidency.

Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, speaks Saturday evening during the general Relief Society meeting in the Conference Center.
Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, speaks Saturday evening during the general Relief Society meeting in the Conference Center. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

In her address during the general Relief Society broadcast Sept. 26 in the Conference Center, Sister Thompson referred to "the tube," the subway system of underground trains in London, England. She described the flashing lights that notify people of approaching trains so they can stand back and of signs alerting passengers to "mind the gap," the space between the platform and the train. All of the warnings are provided so passengers will stay safe.

Likening the experience of riding the tube to experiences in life, Sister Thompson spoke of three gaps many people will have during their experience in life, and the warnings given to keep them safe.

"Many of us have gaps in our own lives," Sister Thompson said. "Sometimes it is the difference between what we know and what we actually do or the gap between our goals and what we actually accomplish. These gaps can be reminders of ways in which we can improve or, if ignored, can be stumbling blocks in our lives."

First, the gap between believing you are a daughter of God and knowing in your heart and soul that you are a precious, beloved daughter of God.

She said for many women in the Church, questions of why things do or don't happen in life often plague their minds, causing them to question God's love. During these times of hardship or difficulty, doubt oftentimes creeps in, causing some to forget that they are a child of God.

"Unfortunately, we hear these types of statements all too often. You need to know that there is nothing that can 'separate [you] from the love of Christ' (Romans 8:35). The scriptures clearly tell us that no tribulation, distress, persecution, power or any other creature can separate us from the love of God."

Sister Thompson spoke of the love of a Heavenly Father that sent His Only Begotten Son to atone for the sins of His people. Not only did the Savior suffer for every sin, Sister Thompson said, He felt every pain, sorrow, discomfort, loneliness or sadness that anyone could experience.

"We need to accept His love, love ourselves and love others. Remember that every soul on this earth is also a child of God. We must treat each other with the love and kindness befitting a child of God."

As the sisters of the Church work hard and perform their duties by keeping the commandments and obeying the Lord, they will be able to recognize the Lord's approval and acceptance, she promised.

"Remember to mind this gap and to not let doubt and uncertainty enter into your minds. Be assured that God loves you dearly and you are His precious child."

Second, the gap between completion of the Young Women program and becoming a fully participating member of Relief Society — "the Lord's organization for women."

Reaching the age of 18, for many young women throughout the world, is a sign that a girl has become a woman, Sister Thompson said. At this time, many young women feel ready to take on and conquer the world with the excitement of possibilities ahead of them. For many, testimonies have been strengthened through lessons learned in Personal Progress and the Young Women organization, creating goals of a future temple marriage and eternal family. For others, a season of less active membership occurs.

"Unfortunately, some of our younger sisters are taking a 'leave of absence' from full participation in the gospel and in Relief Society. Some have the attitude that 'I will pick up with Relief Society when I get married or when I am older or when I am not so busy.' "

But to be active and faithful in the Church is a goal that can and should be realized regardless of age and life circumstances.

"I had the opportunity to serve in Relief Society callings, which helped me to learn to serve others and increase my faith, and gave me a great feeling of belonging," Sister Thompson said. "Even though I wasn't married and had no children, I felt my life had meaning. There were times of discouragement, and at times I questioned the plan."

But when asked why she kept serving in a church with so much emphasis on marriage and families, Sister Thompson replied, "Because it is true!"

"I can be just as single and just as childless outside of the Church. But with the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, I found happiness and I knew I was on the path the Savior would have me follow. I found joy and many opportunities to serve, to love and to grow."

"Remember, it's not just what you get out of active participation in Relief Society but what you can give and contribute as well."

Directing remarks especially to the younger single adult women, Sister Thompson spoke of the love and plan God has for each of His daughters, and the need for them to serve and be active in Relief Society.

"Please mind this gap and don't let a gap of inactivity come into your life in any manner," Sister Thompson said. "You need the Church, and the Church needs you."

Third, the gap between believing in Jesus Christ and being valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ.

For many, the belief in Jesus Christ — that He was born of Mary, that He was a great teacher, a kind and noble soul and the example for all to follow — is easily accepted. But, as a member of the Church, more is expected than just believing, Sister Thompson said.

"For us as Latter-day Saints, we know that we must do more than believe in Christ," she said. "We must have faith in Him, repent of our sins, be baptized in His name and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we must endure faithfully to the end.

"We must share our testimonies with others. We must faithfully keep the covenants we have made with God. We know that all things will be revealed and given to those 'who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ' (Doctrine and Covenants 121:29).

Citing examples from the scriptures — Lehi, Nephi and Enos — Sister Thompson spoke of the importance of each being converted individually and then strengthening all those around them.

"When we are converted, there is a natural tendency for us to share the gospel with those we love, . . ." Sister Thompson said. "Let your voice be heard among the faithful as you valiantly declare that He lives, (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22), that His Church has been restored, and that the plan of happiness is available to all.

"As we mind these 'gaps' by paying careful attention and removing ourselves from danger, we will begin to realize the fullness of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives."

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