Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Elizabeth Smart: Faith, Family, and Forever

In case any of you missed it, Meridian Magazine published a great piece (penned by Sonja Eddings Brown) on Elizabeth Smart yesterday. Among other things, the article recounts its writer's experience of hearing Elizabeth speak to a group of young women about the ability to come through adversity, no matter how great the challenge. Apparently the Smart women, of sturdy pioneer stock, have been known throughout generations for that very ability, and their heritage provided great strength to Elizabeth as she endured what can only be described as a terrifying ordeal.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we all have a pioneer heritage, whether we are born to it or adopted into it through our conversion to the gospel and immersion in the waters of baptism. Either way, the legacy of faith, courage, and example is there for every one of us to call upon; and in a world where war rages, morality wanes, economies falter, and disease threatens, there is ample need.

In an interesting article on Segullah, a guest blogger who is not a member of the Church asked what the best non-religious thing about being Mormon was. Many women answered that the strength and cohesive nature of the Mormon community was their favorite temporal aspect of the Church. It occurred to me then and even more powerfully now that the nature of the LDS community can't really be divorced from the shared faith and heritage that shapes it. We are all a product of belief and experience, and the ties that bind us are not forged in a vacuum. We are united and sustained by our reverence for and devotion to a common belief system whose history shows us what mere human beings can accomplish and overcome, with the Lord's help.

I guess what it all comes down to is knowing who we are. (And I always want to add, as Sheri Dew does, "and who we have always been.") I'm not sure this kind of grounding, centering knowledge is sufficiently available to young women today, but I sincerely wish it were. My hope is that seeing Elizabeth Smart's courage and resilience will inspire other young people to explore diligently who they are, too. There is untold power, for all women, in knowing that we are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us.

And we need that power, more than ever. Our world is changing, and we will need to change with it. Like those early pioneers, we have to get down to basics, leaving our self indulgence behind like they left behind their fine china and focusing on what really matters: faith, family, and forever. (And by forever, I mean, if it doesn't have lasting value, it doesn't matter.) Just leave it behind.

That's what Elizabeth has done. She has stood tall like the daughter of God she is, focusing on her faith, her family, and those things that hold eternal significance in her life. The rest, she has left behind.

May we seek and find the strength within ourselves to do likewise.


Snarky Belle said...

Beautiful, just beautiful.

VK said...

Too have other women in our lives giving great examples of strength is a HUGE blessing.
Thanks for being one of mine.

karen said...

That made me kind of teary. I wish I had had a testimony of who I was and "who I had always been" when I was younger. It would have helped immensely. I'll never forget the moment when I realized that my Heavenly Father KNEW ME. It was amazing. I've tried to instill that knowledge in my kids as they've grown up.

Karen said...

Love the post! I just read the devotion give by Elder Oaks at BYU-I on religious freedom and your post reminds me of his point.

It is so nice to see Elizabeth Smart rise from such a terrible thing to be a strong, beautiful young woman.

Karen said...

PS. Love the poem left on Snarky Belles blog comments.

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you posted about this. I have been so impressed by her and her example. Truly a woman of faith.
Thank you for putting into words...how I feel.

jen said...

I just sincerely pray that she will one day find a man that can truly understand her background and love her as she deserves.
All of us deserve this, but no one as much as she does.

Heather Anderson said...


That girl sure is Smart.

Smartfully Submitted,

Matthew D. Anderson

RobinfromCA said...

OK, I'm commenting already!;-)

I'm so happy you pointed out this article about Elizabeth Smart and I look forward to reading it. I've seen the People magazine with her picture on the front and have been afraid to pick it up for fear of what they've written.

I had no idea Olberman had chosen Elder Oaks as a target. Glad I didn't hear it. He may have chosen to be a big jerk about it but at least he heard the talk. Does that make the joke on him instead?

Robin Brooksby

Grandma Honey said...

I'm glad you told us about the article on Elizabeth Smart. Somehow I missed that so I will go read it. I think she shows us all how we can do what we want to do. We can rise above what life does to us. I'm sure too her parents were a continual strength to her...believing in her and believing that Heavenly Father would help her.