Saturday, January 12, 2008
Woman of the Year 2007
If you've been on my blog lately, you'll see that I've been giving awards for 2007. If you've missed these, check this post and this one. My award for Woman of the Year 2007 goes to Julie Beck of Alpine, Utah. In March of 2007, she was called to be the General President of the Relief Society (the LDS Church's Women's organization.) This is a responsibility that comes without formal training or pay. Since members of the Relief Society live in countries all over the world and number over 5 million women, her stewardship is far spread and surely a heavy burden to bear. (I thought it was hard when I was responsible for the 150 women in our congregation--I can't imagine what that must be like on such a large scale. I wonder if she can ever sleep!) She oversees an organization that assists in providing for the humanitarian and welfare needs of people all over the globe, in and out of the Church. The Relief Society helps women across the world with literacy, employment skills, and homemaking skills so that they can improve the quality of their lives and the lives of their families.
This assignment comes without a salary. It comes with little glory and frequently with much criticism from those who would do it differently. It is not something that you apply for, rather it is something that she was asked to do, called by a prophet of God. It requires great personal sacrifice of time, energy, and a willingness to subject oneself to the criticism of others. Sister Beck handles all this with grace and gratitude because of her testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the things that I love about Julie Beck (and, incidentally, has brought much criticism against her) is the way that she stands up for motherhood as a divine calling. She asks us to honor all that is good and godly in mothers. When she addressed the Church as a whole in October of 2007, her talk was bold and simple and extremely heartfelt. I sensed that she felt deeply about the importance of the subject of mothers, and more than once her voice wavered as she held back tears. She taught us how vital our role is as mothers. She spoke of how important and desirable are even the seemingly mundane tasks of housework, as keeping an orderly home contributes to the atmosphere in the home. (Incidentally, she did not say or imply that our husbands were not responsible to assist us in these tasks, although many women have been resentful that housekeeping was even mentioned, as if it will just get miraculously done.) She talked about the importance of choosing wisely how we as mothers will spend our time and energy, as well as making careful choices about the time commitments of our families, so as to ensure enough time for family dinners, Family Home Evening, family prayer, and other critical family times that enrich and build our families. I loved that she essentially rejected the idea of the "Supermom", who can do everything and pointed out that we need to make choices if we want to do the most important things well, rather than spreading ourselves too thin. She offered hope and peace that we can "have great power and influence for good on [our] children," inspite of the world in which we are raising them, if we will strengthen our own faith in God and seek to strengthen our families. Her talk was inspiring and motivating, and I have listened to it on my mp3 player and studied it online many times since then.
I sustain Sister Julie Beck as called by God at this time to lead the women of the world, to stand up for women and mothers, to strengthen families across the globe, and to testify of Jesus Christ. Because she does this without apology, even when some of the things that she teaches are not popular, I have chosen her as 2007 Woman of the Year.