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‘Let God Prevail’ in Your Life’s Choices and Story, President Johnson Tells Women

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Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson encouraged Latter-day Saint women Friday to Let God prevail in their lives. “Because [the Savior] knows our potential perfectly, He will take us to places we never imagined ourselves,” she said during a keynote address at BYU Women’s Conference on Friday, May 3.


Speaking to thousands of Latter-day Saint women gathered in the Marriott Center on the Brigham Young University campus, and tens of thousands more watching online, President Johnson counseled women that as they make choices, to look to reliable sources like living Prophets and the Holy Ghost for answers, establish priorities, cultivate testimonies of foundational truths, and not neglect or dismiss the sacred responsibility of parenthood.

The Best Sources

“It is a glorious day to be a woman, a covenant woman, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said President Johnson.

Her source of optimism is knowing that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a mighty prophet of God, President Russell M. Nelson, who is the Lord’s mouthpiece on the earth today — not only for members of the Church — but for the whole world,” President Johnson testified.

President Nelson speaks for the Savior whose Church he leads, President Johnson said. “[The Prophet] is pointing us to the Savior who is our source of relief. Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of my optimism.”

President Johnson expressed her fear that too many women are looking to unreliable sources instead of to “the best sources — the prophet, the scriptures and the Spirit.”

Individuals today are accustomed to quick and concise “Google search answers,” she noted. “We ask our question and get a prompt response, and if we don’t like the answer, we can scroll for an answer that suits us.”

In contrast, the Prophet has invited individuals to “let God prevail by living worthy of and learning how to recognize promptings and answers from the Holy Ghost, which requires effort,” she said.

Maintaining the presence of the Spirit requires energy, prayer, scripture study, study of the words of living prophets, partaking of the sacrament and repentance. “That, sisters, is how we will get our answers,” President Johnson said.

Establish priorities

Some might think they don’t have time for all that. “What I have discovered in juggling my responsibilities is that establishing priorities is critical to success and happiness,” President Johnson shared.

In her own life, love of God and love of His children were first and second. “My professional life as a lawyer was never in the top two,” she said.

As individuals prioritize love of God and love of neighbor and family, then the things that don’t have eternal significance drop off the list.

President Johnson said there were times as she was raising three young sons, trying to be a devoted wife, maintaining a law practice and serving in the Church that her scripture study became inconsistent. “But what I learned is that I am far more efficient and effective when I include scripture study in my daily routine. I get more done when I do the things that matter most, first.”

Those who prioritize daily acts of devotion to Heavenly Father and the Savior — such as studying the words of living prophets — invite the Spirit. Then they are able to receive answers, direction and clarity of thought.

“Please take note, I am not saying that letting God prevail and having the companionship of the Spirit will make your path one of ease,” President Johnson warned. “We are ascending. It is an uphill climb. … This isn’t about comfort, it’s about growth, change, embracing our divine nature and becoming like the Savior.”

Foundational truths

President Johnson invited women to cultivate a testimony of foundational truth.

“As we understand and embrace foundational truth, our desire to let God prevail in our lives will increase. We will invite Jesus Christ to be the author and finisher of our faith and of our stories. We will want to give our lives over to Him, drawing strength and power from our covenant connection with Him,” President Johnson explained.

She invited women to “spend your precious time striving to understand foundational points of doctrine” — things that nourish the roots of the tree — such as the nature of God, the Savior and His Atonement, or God’s glorious plan of happiness.

“When I am firmly rooted in the truth that God loves us and directs His work through living prophets — when I know that ‘trunk doctrine’ — I can be content in not knowing the answer to a leaf question,” President Johnson said.

A woman recently commented on President Johnson’s conviction about the Prophet and wondered how to gain a similar testimony. “I said to my new friend, and I say to all of you — experiment upon their words,” President Johnson responded.

Like a seed, plant the words of President Nelson by prayerfully studying his messages, then keep nourishing that seedling by applying his counsel. “Sisters, I promise your seed will grow — with faith and diligence, and the reward will be delicious fruit.”

‘How Will You Let God Prevail?’

In a plea to the covenant women of God, President Nelson said: “We … need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God. … We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve” (“A Plea to My Sisters,” October 2015 general conference).

During the recent Worldwide Relief Society Devotional, President Nelson blessed the women of the Church “to realize that your divine gifts as a daughter of God give you the power not only to change lives but to change the world.”

After sharing President Nelson’s words, President Johnson said, “Oh, sisters, how I hope the Holy Ghost is teaching you how vital you are in preparing the world for the Second Coming of our Savior. By divine invitation, we can ‘prepar[e] future generations of the Lord’s Church and the world’ for that glorious day — if we are willing to let God prevail.”

In 2016, President Johnson and her husband were called to serve as mission leaders in Arequipa, Peru. “Doug and I were giving three years over to Him because we had covenanted in the house of the Lord to sacrifice and consecrate our talents and time and energy to build up His kingdom,” she said.

Upon returning, she planned to practice law for another decade to ensure financial security and spend time with her new grandchildren. Then she was called as Primary general president. Over a year later, she was called as the Relief Society general president.

“Sisters, what if I had stuck with my comfortable narrative?” President Johnson asked. “I would have enjoyed spending more time with my grandchildren and I could have been assured the financial security I don’t presently enjoy. And, I would have missed a soul-searching, stretching and faith-building experience. Uphill? Yes. Worth it? Oh, yes.”

By letting God prevail in her own life, in letting Him author her story, her faith in Jesus Christ has increased, President Johnson said. “How then will you let Him prevail?” she asked the women of the Church.

The Sacred Responsibility of Parenthood

What does that look like for a woman pursuing education as well as marriage and family?

In addressing this topic, President Johnson said she wished to speak with sensitivity “to those who have a sincere and abiding desire to marry and have children in this life, who are single.” She recognized that many women are parenting alone because of death or divorce. And she spoke to “countless sisters who are married and desire children” and are suffering with infertility and miscarriage.

“Sisters, thank you for holding fast to your faith in Christ and walking your path with Him,” she said. “I know you have made righteous choices and have righteous desires. I know you are suffering. You want the timing to change. This isn’t the narrative you have written for yourself. My heart aches for you.”

President Johnson related how she was married midway through her legal education and had her first son the year after passing the bar exam. She had more children and she and her husband loved and nurtured them while both of them worked. They sought inspiration in these choices and in the timing.

“From a financial and professional perspective, it would have made sense to put off having children until I was more established in my career. But sisters, in letting Him author our stories we sometimes do things that the world can’t make sense of. … We felt confident in our course because we were letting God prevail,” she said.

President Johnson explained that she was not suggesting that other women follow her course. “Your story and my story are not the same. I share mine because it’s what I know. What we share is our motivation: letting God prevail.”

Motherhood, President Johnson said, has been her highest priority and ultimate joy.

“My primary identities are daughter of God, covenant woman, and disciple of Jesus Christ,” she said. “And my primary orientation — that is — my focus, passion, and calling as a woman, is toward motherhood. That is our primary orientation, our sacred calling, as daughters of heavenly parents. The orientation and focus I feel toward motherhood is consistent with my diligent pursuit of an education. We are commanded to seek learning — some of which comes in our pursuit of education and much of it comes in our orientation, as daughters of God, toward motherhood — where we learn to become god-like as we cultivate attributes of love, compassion and patience.”

It is vitally important that women and men do not neglect or dismiss the sacred responsibility of parenthood, she said.

“As leaders of the Church, we are concerned about recent trends in marriage and childbirth,” she said. In many parts of the world, the average number of live births per woman is fewer than two. The United States recently crossed a threshold where, of adults aged 18 to 55, there is now a greater share of single adults with no children than there are married adults with children.

Children are vital to the plan of happiness, President Johnson explained. “The commandment for us to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”

President Johnson acknowledged that there are many who desire to marry and bear children yet are single or suffer with infertility.

“My fondest friend who has never married and had children of her own, has loved and cared for mine. It is not a substitute for children of her own. It is evidence that her orientation remains toward motherhood,” she said.

Whatever a woman’s personal circumstances, she is part of the family of God, a member of an earthly family, and preparing to be an eternal parent, President Johnson said. “The blessings of exaltation made available to us through the Savior, Jesus Christ, include posterity. And so, whether we are sealed and bear children in this life, or the next, our object is exaltation — which can be ours if we make and keep covenants.”

President Johnson continued, “As covenant women, we plan and prepare for marriage and the bearing of and nurture of children. What a sacred and holy calling! We love and lead and minister and mother to show our love for God and His children — because we want Him to prevail in our lives.”

President Johnson reiterated that now is a glorious time to be a covenant woman in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Understanding our role, purpose and responsibility in the plan of happiness is ennobling, reassuring and joyful. Knowing that we have a living prophet preparing us for what lies ahead brings me peace and even optimism amid uncertainty. My covenant relationship with God gives me confidence. My covenant confidence is in Jesus Christ.”

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