As a young and eager senior in high school, I embarked on a new and exciting path to university. Undoubtedly naive in many things, I felt like I could conquer the world. As I set on my path, I will never forget the stirring words of my stake president, “The world needs strong, educated women in their communities, cities, careers, and homes.” Since hearing his counsel, I have many times sought to understand more fully the role of women in the “great and marvelous work of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:114). I have often longed for the strength in the narratives of women in the scriptures to help me better understand how I can do as my stake president directed.
Doctrine and Covenants 25 is the first latter-day recorded revelation to a woman. I learn important and fundamental truths about the gospel of Jesus Christ from dear Emma Smith. I see her pains, doubts, fears, and questions answered in this revelation. I believe all men and women can learn much from the Lord’s words to Emma.
Women Are an Important Part of the Restoration
I think of how important it was for Joseph Smith to meet and marry Emma Hale. I take note that for three years Joseph went to meet Moroni to receive instructions, each time returning without the plates. After he met and married Emma, he could bring the key person with him to Hill Cumorah and retrieve the plates.
Later, in her patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith Sr., Emma is told, “Thou shalt ever remember the great condescension of thy God in permitting thee to accompany my son when the angel delivered the record of the Nephites to his care” (Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, 2021, 47).
Emma became the first scribe of the Book of Mormon and no doubt was a support and confidant to Joseph as they labored together to “strengthen the church” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:5). Julie B. Beck, a former Relief Society general president, taught the following regarding Emma’s role: “As the Lord began restoring His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, He again included women in a pattern of discipleship. A few months after the Church was formally organized, the Lord revealed that Emma Smith was to be set apart as a leader and teacher in the Church and as an official helper to her husband, the Prophet [see Doctrine and Covenants 25]. In her calling to help the Lord build His kingdom, she was given instructions about how to increase her faith and personal righteousness, how to strengthen her family and her home, and how to serve others” (“What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand about Relief Society,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 110).
I love Emma’s call to be a leader with great power and purpose. She was: “an elect lady…called…to expound scriptures” and given a specific assignment “to make a selection of sacred hymns” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:3,7,11).
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she begins a life of service and becomes an example to many. In Nauvoo, she is confirmed as president of the Relief Society, the women’s organization that fulfills a vital role in the restoration of the gospel (see Saints, vol. 1, The Standard of Truth, 448-452). We see Emma continuing to lead formally and informally in the early formation of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
I see many women who, like Emma, are called to serve in the organization of the Church. I learn so much from the wives of my bishop and stake president. I see strength in Sister Wendy Nelson, who plays a vital role in the continued work of God to prepare the world for the Second Coming. I marvel at women’s strength as they preach and teach both formally and informally.
Our prophet President Russell M. Nelson has implored: “I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before…And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!” (“A Plea to My Sisters,” Ensign, Nov. 2015).
As Julie B. Beck stated, “I hope my granddaughters will understand that from the day the gospel began to be restored in this dispensation, the Lord has needed faithful women to participate as His disciples…That first group of women understood that they had been given authority to teach, inspire, and organize the sisters as disciples to assist in the Lord’s work of salvation” (“What I Hope,” 110). Women and men must understand these important truths in our day too.
Guided by the Holy Ghost
In learning about Emma and her great sacrifice to stand alongside Joseph, we see an example of what it means to “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:10). The Come, Follow Me, 2021 manual explains: “When Emma Hale married Joseph Smith, she likely knew she would be making sacrifices. She was going against the wishes of her father and trading a relatively comfortable life for a life of uncertainty. She might have wondered what the Lord expected of her in the work of the Restoration” (45).
In her history, Lucy Mack Smith wrote, “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal and patience, which she has always done” (Come, Follow Me, 2021, 47).
President Russell M. Nelson recently invited the women of the Church: “to study prayerfully section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants and discover what the Holy Ghost will teach you…Examine your life meticulously and regularly… As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord, the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!” (“Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign, Nov. 2019, 77).
I marvel at the blessings that have come to my life through the last year as I have endeavored to heed President Nelson’s invitation to reconsecrate my life to the Lord. This has come through formal opportunities to serve in callings and assignments, and it has also come as everyone has had to slow down and refocus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing of President Nelson’s talk to the sisters prepared us for the world events that would happen. I give thanks for the words of our living Prophet.
A Great and Marvelous Work
This year my study of the Doctrine and Covenants has helped me see Jesus coming to men and women in times of need in real-life trials and answering our questions and prayers. Because I have seen this in the lives of people, I have faith and hope that Christ will come to me in my time of need as I seek to #HearHim.
I give thanks for the “elect lady” Emma Hale Smith! In learning from her, I understand more fully that my Heavenly Parents know me individually as they knew Emma. I know I have a great purpose and role in preparing the world for the coming of our Savior. I take great joy in being a part of the Lord’s work and trying to consecrate my life to Jesus Christ.