Yesterday was a busy day, but the end of the day, I knew I could look forward to having some time with just my little girl at a broadcast called General Women's Meeting https://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch?cid=HPTH032714628&lang=eng (a link to the entire broadcast.) This was an historic event, because for the first time, all "women" 8 years and up were allowed to attend at the same meeting. In the past, the LDS church would have a broadcast once a year for the women, and once a year for the young women, ages 12-18. So when it was announced that girls 8 and older would be attending with women of all ages, I was of course excited at first, because it meant I could bring Julianna with me! But then I started to wonder how girls so young would even benefit from such a meeting, and maybe a little selfishly, what about my time to strengthen just me, as a woman? (This last thought wasn't as pressing, but it did cross my mind).
So we went to the meeting, found a seat with some friends, and it wasn't long before I realized how inspired this new change was. The new song that was performed by a combined choir, called "Daughters in My Kingdom," emphasized how all women and girls are daughters of God, and that we can serve one another, regardless of age. As I listened, I couldn't help but think that no matter what challenges Julianna faces in this life because of her disabilities, the most important thing she needs to know is that she is a daughter of God, and that He loves her perfectly. And Heavenly Father has trusted me with Julianna, so I need to trust in Him.
The first speaker asked all the girls, ages 8-11 to stand, so I convinced Julianna to do this, and the speaker (through satellite, of course) welcomed all these young girls, and had them sing the first verse of a song called "Teach Me to Walk in the Light." Those of you that are unfamiliar with the song, here are the words:
Teach me to walk in the light of his love
Teach me to pray to my Father above
Teach me to know of the things that are right
Teach me, teach me, to walk in the light.
The speaker then asked the rest of the women to sing the second verse:
Come, little child, and together we'll learn
Of his commandments that we may return
Home to his presence to live in His sight
Always, Always, to walk in the light.
Never has this simple song, one I have sung since I was a child, hit me with more power. Listening to the first verse, I realized once again my role as a mother, to teach my children, a role that I often feel inadequate in doing, and struggle daily because of the challenges I face. And then, quite like a response to the first verse, as I sang the second one, my eyes filled with tears, as I thought about how we can learn together, but mostly learn of what's really important: the commandments, so we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. I will never think of that song the same way again. And I would never have had this opportunity to learn this truth in a new way if I weren't there with my own daughter.
Other things fed my soul that evening, my "mother soul," similar to the Time Out for Women that I attended just a week ago. But when I compare how I felt being at this meeting with my daughter to how I felt on my own at last week's event, I almost have no words. How I felt being there with my special daughter in that short 90 minutes was more strengthening to my testimony and beliefs than a whole day at the other event. And I think it's because I realized how much I need her, and how much she needs me. We need each other to become who our Heavenly Father wants us to be, to grow in the Gospel, to refine and purify ourselves. She may need me for so many things, but I need her in my life much more. We need our daughters.
Throughout the broadcast, she kept saying, "I love you." Something she's been saying to our entire family for years now, so much that we tell her to stop, as I've mentioned before. But when she said it to me last night, I didn't want her to stop. I am truly honored and grateful to be raising such a wonderful daughter. I just wish everyone could see her the way I do, and more importantly, the way her Heavenly Father sees her. She is the best daughter I could ever ask for.