Sister Craig on women and priesthood — What will you take with you?

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).

Years ago, when my nephew McKay was young, my brother was encouraging him to clean up his toys — without much success.  There was a lot of playing going on, but not much cleaning. Finally, a bit exasperated, my brother asked him to stop for a moment and ask himself the question: What is the right thing to do? 

McKay replied, “Dad, listen… It’s the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost is saying, ‘McKay, do nothing!’”  

Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, speaks with a group of young women following a youth devotional in Miri, Malaysia, during a visit to the Asia Area of the Church from Aug. 17 to 24, 2019.
Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, speaks with a group of young women following a youth devotional in Miri, Malaysia, during a visit to the Asia Area of the Church from Aug. 17 to 24, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Now, I realize that there will be times when we are restrained by the Holy Ghost, but if we ask and then listen, the Holy Ghost will almost always tell us to do something.

In his recent talk to the women of the Church, President Nelson gave us something to do to bring the Savior’s power into our lives. He said that we should seek the Holy Ghost, who “will prompt you about what is no longer needful, what is no longer worthy of your time and energy.” President Nelson said that “this endeavor will require you to put aside many things of this world,” but that doing this can bring heaven’s help.  

These words from our prophet echo the words given to Emma Smith in Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants (a section that President Nelson encouraged the women of the Church to study as part of understanding priesthood power). This counsel to Emma was also counsel “unto all” (D&C 25:16). She was encouraged to “lay aside things of this world and seek for things of a better.” Don’t we all want that? 

In addition to laying aside some things of this world, Emma was told to “seek” — this is an action verb. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defined seek as: “To go in search or quest of; to look for.”  

I like the idea that I am on a quest for things of a better world. I can go on this quest with confidence because I have the Holy Ghost to help me. I also have my covenants, which bring priesthood power into my life. 

Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, greets members in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during a visit to the Asia Area of the Church from Aug. 17 to 24, 2019.
Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, greets members in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during a visit to the Asia Area of the Church from Aug. 17 to 24, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

If I am being perfectly honest, I have spent most of my life not understanding or appreciating that the covenants I have made — baptism and temple covenants, and those renewed in the sacrament — bring me God’s power. President Nelson taught us, “Every woman and every man who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants, and who participates worthily in priesthood ordinances, has direct access to the power of God.”

I love the way Emma was counseled to view her covenants — she was to “cleave unto the covenants” which she had made. Cleave is another action verb, and it means “to stick; to adhere; to hold to.” Our covenants make us stick to or bind us to the Lord, and that brings me the priesthood power that I need every single day. 

Our stake participated in a trek a number of years ago. Our theme was “What will you take with you? What will you leave behind?” These words have stayed in my heart for years.

Each of us is on a trek. We may not be trekking with a handcart through the plains of Wyoming, but we are trekking nonetheless. We trek through days and long nights of health challenges, helping with homework, working to make ends meet. We trek through relationship challenges, financial challenges, and mental and physical health challenges. We trek through overwhelming assignments and our daily list of things to do. Some of us may be trekking through grief, or even loneliness or boredom. Our challenges are different, but we all have them. 

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, and her counselors: Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor, and Sister Rebecca Lyn Craven, second counselor, pose for a photo on Temple Square.
Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, and her counselors: Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor, and Sister Rebecca Lyn Craven, second counselor, pose for a photo on Temple Square. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Keeping our covenants does not mean that these challenges will be removed, but it does mean that the Lord promises to be with us.  

The question for all of us is what do we take with us and what do we leave behind? I want to fill my cart, and my life, with those things that are most important — and my covenants most definitely fit into this category. To do this, there are some things that I will need to put aside.  

To invite the Savior’s power, what will you lay aside? What do you need to grab onto a little tighter?