President Cordon on women and priesthood — Increased power through service

Editor’s note: This narrative is part of a Church News series titled “Women of Covenant,” in which women of the Church discuss their personal experiences with priesthood power and share what they have learned through following President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to “labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power — priesthood power” (“Spiritual Treasures,” general conference, October 2019).

It is in giving that we receive. I learned this from Sister Amy Wright. In late 2015, Amy was diagnosed with stage four cancer and given a 17% chance to live. Her doctors explained that the current treatment for her cancer was so invasive and painful that even though it was their only hope for survival, many patients struggled to complete the treatment.  

Amy began the treatment and, true to the doctor’s word, it wreaked havoc on her body and mind.  One day she declared to her husband, “I quit!” She was emotionally and physically drained and knew she could not continue without great, divine assistance. Amy tells what happened next: “In his wisdom, my sweetheart patiently listened and then responded, ‘Well, then we need to find someone to serve.’ ”

The Young Women general presidency and board pose for a photo in Goshen, Utah.
The Young Women general presidency and board pose for a photo in Goshen, Utah. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

As a family, they came up with ways to serve others. Even during her sleepless nights, Amy would prepare names for the temple or send a brief note or text of love and encouragement to others. 

In the fight for her life, Amy discovered the truth of President Russell M. Nelson’s promise, “Your power will increase as you serve others” (“Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019 general conference). Today she is healthy and continues to serve in both large and small ways.

Serving others is a source of strength, even when we ourselves feel weak. When serving, Amy felt physically and spiritually stronger, but the emotional strength she received was truly more than she could have imagined. She has a taste of what Elder Neal A. Maxwell bore testimony of in both word and deed, “Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity!” (“The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978). 

King Benjamin declared service to be one of the keys to unlocking the mysteries of God. “Open your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view. … I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; when you are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:9, 17). 

Sister Amy Wright is a member of the Young Women general board.
Sister Amy Wright is a member of the Young Women general board. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Power, wisdom, understanding the mysteries of God — if service gives us access to these sweeping promises, perhaps the next questions should be: “Have I done any good in the world today?  Have I helped anyone in need?” (Hymns, #223).

Service enlarges our soul, broadens our perspective and allows us to draw upon God’s power in more abundance. The Lord knows this, but so does Satan. In his ever-vigilant attempt to distance us from the power of God, the adversary would overwhelm us or cause us to feel that what we have to offer is inadequate. 

In yet another beautiful layer to Sister Wright’s story, she introduced me to Irmgard Dixon, who was born in Germany in 1932. Amy said, “Irmgard showed up on my front porch one summer afternoon about a month after I had completed my last chemotherapy treatment.  In her arms was a small bag of ‘treasures.’  She confessed that she had wanted to drop something off to me for many months but that the thought kept coming to her mind, ‘Who am I to go and visit Sister Wright?’ ”

Irmgard had temporarily allowed the adversary to rob her of the power that would be hers through service. Amy continued, “She then proceeded to pull out, one by one, small gifts that had given her comfort during the war; small treasures of sight, taste and smell that gave her comfort as a young girl in Germany when she was afraid. We both stood on my porch and cried. Little did I know how much I would need her courage in the coming months when I found out that my cancer was not gone and multiple surgeries were still needed.”

Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, read messages written by children who have received care at the Avenues Children’s Justice Center on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, read messages written by children who have received care at the Avenues Children’s Justice Center on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

This lesson is now engraved on Amy’s heart: Never second guess an act of kindness. 

By intentionally making service to others part of our life, we will discover the mysteries of God. We will discover peace, find strength, and receive an increase of power as we serve our Savior, Jesus Christ, and strive to be His hands to lift and bless those around us.

President Spencer W. Kimball confirmed that it is through service that we discover “the abundant life noted in the scriptures. … We become more substantive as we serve others — indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find” (The Abundant Life,” Ensign, July 1978).

“Therefore, dearly beloved, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine & Covenants 123:17).