On the east facing wall of my home office hangs a vibrant painting. The colors are rich and striking, but it’s the image of four women of different ethnicities that warms my heart. With arms intertwined, they appear to be dancing, the long lines of their dresses flowing into each other. I was pleased to discover that this work of art is titled, “Unity.” (1) It symbolizes my vision for the women of the earth.
Accept the Truth of Heavenly Parents
A few years ago, an experience in the temple instilled in me a greater sense of unity with every woman I encounter. On a busy Friday evening, the hallway on the upper floor of the temple was packed with people waiting to participate in sealings. My husband and I were assigned to a room along with five other couples, which was more than we usually had in a sealing session. The sealer addressed a woman who had brought ordinance cards for a husband, wife, and their five daughters. “Usually, we have one person at a time kneel as proxy when a child is sealed to their parents. Tonight, because we have enough female proxies for five daughters, we can have them all sealed at the same time.”
After the couple sealing was performed, the five other sisters in the room were invited to join the proxy parents, and the ordinance proceeded, with the sealer speaking the name of each daughter, from oldest to youngest. This was a tender moment. Unexpectedly, after the ordinance was finished, we lingered at the altar for a long moment, smiling at each other through our tears. We had knelt as strangers, but the beautiful truth filled our hearts that we were sisters just as surely as those five for whom we were proxy, and we basked in a moment of heavenly connection.
This experience in the temple has reinforced the truth that every woman is truly my sister. It is no small thing to share a spiritual heritage–it should heavily influence the way we interact with and speak of each other and should help us think twice before criticizing any woman whose politics, culture, or lifestyle we may not understand.
Extend Your Hand
Once we have a deep conviction that we are literally daughters of Heavenly Parents, a natural progression follows: we extend our hand to those in need, we unite our voices in worthy causes, and we declare our faith.
First, as we recognize that all women are our sisters, we’re more inclined to extend a hand to the women around us who are swimming in troubled waters; we’re more sensitive to the needs of the lonely, the depressed, the grieving, and the marginalized within our families and neighborhoods.
In April 2016 General Conference, Sister Linda K. Burton called on the women of the church to, “Prayerfully determine what you can do…to serve the refugees living in your… communities.” (2)As I acted on this counsel and began to volunteer at a refugee sharehouse, my eyes were opened to the plight of the refugees in my area. Most of the women I have met at the sharehouse come from Africa and the Middle East. Their stories of war, rape, family separations, and fleeing their countries so their daughters would not be stolen, have awakened my heart to the reality of widespread oppression of women, of my sisters. My interactions with these ladies have blessed my life. I am inspired by their resilience, and by refugee women like Naima, Mayan, and Halima who have overcome staggering odds to educate themselves, and who now extend their hand to other refugees, helping them rise above fear and poverty.
Unite Your Voices
After we become active in ministering to our family and neighbors, we may recognize opportunities to unite our voices with like-minded individuals, expanding our influence for good. We learn the power of combining talents and resources to address critical needs. I think of Sharlee, who uses her bright mind and writing gifts to put people in possession of carefully researched facts. She has joined forces with other concerned women to hold political leaders accountable for their actions–particularly on issues affecting women and families. And though Sharlee is strong, she is never combative.
I think of Debra, who uses her compassionate heart and her deep convictions to bless the LGBTQ community in Christlike ways, and works tirelessly with others to educate the public on suicide prevention. She is articulate and firm in defense of the marginalized, but never contentious. Debra and Sharlee have significant influence for good as they consecrate their time to important causes. They bring to mind the words of President Russell M. Nelson, “We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.” (3)
Declare Your Faith
As our testimony of our divine heritage deepens, we will naturally desire to share this knowledge with others. Opportunities to declare our faith will open to us if we seek them. The more we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the braver we become; we lose our fear of being “a peculiar people.” (1 Peter 2:9) When we become unapologetic witnesses of Jesus Christ, those we interact with can discern–through us–that righteousness increases strength, and purity is power. With all my heart, I believe the words of Sister Sheri L. Dew, “If we could unleash the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would change overnight.” (4)
In keeping with my wish for unity among women, I offer a song. Early one morning a few years ago I was hovering between sleep and waking, when a simple melody—just a few measures—came into my mind. I began to hum it as I fully awoke, then made my way to the piano to play around with the music. Almost immediately words began to flow, and I felt the warm rush of revelation. All of my concerns for my refugee sisters, and all of my desires to unify the women of the earth came together in a simple four-line song. The first two lines are sung in unison—as women join together. The last two lines are sung in harmony—for we grow in beauty and strength as we combine the rich variety of our god-given gifts. This is a song of invitation:
FREE SHEET MUSIC DOWNLOAD (CLICK BELOW)
Listen to the song below:
Come Sisters Now, of Every Nation
Words, music, and piano by Lynne Perry Christofferson
Vocal by Tammy Simister Robinson
Come sisters now, of every nation, certain of your worth,
embrace the beauty of your station and your role on earth.
accept the truth of Heav’nly Parents, feel Their love’s caress,
and emanate Their light as you arise in holiness.
Come sisters now, extend your hand to those who ache with grief,
the hungry and oppressed among you, offering relief.
Come minister as earthly angels, softening despair,
consoling those in need of comfort, giving tender care.
Come sisters now, unite your voices in a worthy cause.
With charity and confidence defend God’s holy laws–
employing true civility, not arrogant, but bold.
Protectors of the weak among us, whether young or old.
Come sisters now, declare your faith, and witness from this hour
that righteousness increases strength, and purity is pow’r.
Come lay aside all worldliness, the chains that hold you fast.
Experience the glory of God’s liberty at last.
- Monica Stewart, Unity, http://monicastewart.com/unity/
- Sister Linda K. Burton, “I Was a Stranger,” April 2016 General Conference.
- President Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters,” October 2015 General Conference.
- Sister Sheri L. Dew, BYU Women’s Conference, May 1, 2008,