Last week I had the opportunity to attend Women's Conference. This is an annual gathering of a ton of women on BYU campus, where speakers from all different backgrounds come to speak on a wide variety of topics. It's pretty much a chance to fill your lamp with oil, refresh your spirit, learn something, and be strengthened. I really loved it.
At one point during the conference, I took a little break from scribbling down notes and wrote in the margins "Everything is being distilled." I later had to go check the dictionary to make sure I really meant what I wanted to mean, and yep there it is, what I was trying to say. Distill: to extract the essence of. That's what happened to me over those two days. I was being reminded of the essence of life. The most important. What is beautiful and what is good and what is difficult but worth doing. It was like a physical feeling - everything coming together into one and having such clarity in my brain. Ah, if only that feeling could last. But at least I have my notes!
One of the sessions I attended centered around the topic "Believe in Christ." The first speaker directed her words toward the relationship between grace, the Atonement, and believing in Christ. One of the things she said really interested me. She said the Latin word for grace is gratia, and it means both favor and thanks. (Hence the word gracias in Spanish.) She said that it is appropriate that the same word is used to describe both the gift and the appropriate response to the gift.
I've been thinking about that a lot. It reminded me of a phrase I had heard in scripture, which I later found was John 1:16, "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." In that moment that meant to me that I should return grace (thanks) for the grace (favor) I have been given.
And now that I am thinking about it, it seems like this is what it was all distilling into. I attended sessions on understanding our worth, teaching children through stories, not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ, facing grief and disappointments, and delighting in the scriptures, and everything I learned in these sessions can be distilled into one word: gratitude. If I can maintain a feeling of gratitude in my heart, I feel like I can pretty much manage all of the other things I learned and was inspired to do during that conference.
If I remember who Christ is, and what he did, and am grateful for it, I will remember who I am and what I am worth.
If I am grateful for the Atonement and I love it in my heart, it will be easy to share it with my children and everyone else I know.
If I feel gratitude for the grace of Christ, I will be buoyed up in times of grief, and I will be better able to act as He would act when those around me are suffering.
If I am grateful for what Christ did, I will treasure his words he has given us through prophets and recorded in the scriptures. I will desire to read them and study them and love them.
And I think If I always remember Christ, I will have that feeling of gratitude, and I will be happier.
So there it is. The secret to happiness and success in life. Gratia. Grace given, and grace returned.