Marie Holley, a single sister, fought cancer for three years before she became too weak to care for herself. After that, a friend helped her for several months, but the demands of working all day and caring for Marie all night were too much for her friend; she became ill also.
It was then that the ward Relief Society became involved. The organization had never been called on to care for someone who had an illness that would cause her death, so the Relief Society presidency prayed for guidance. Through inspiration, they called sisters to help; then, trained them how to care for Marie.
For fourteen months, Relief Society sisters stayed with Marie twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Marie got the help she needed, and the Relief Society sisters were blessed from their association with her. But another benefit of the service soon became apparent—increased sisterhood in the ward. Often the women didn’t know the person they were replacing or the one who would take their place in caring for Marie. But the unknown faces soon became dear friends as the women stopped to talk.
Looking back to that time, ward member Karen Anderson says, “I thought about how all [those] strangers had become friends and about how much we had all learned from Marie—about love, caring, and learning to give of ourselves. We had learned to recognize the good in each person and to realize the blessings that come from service” (“Lessons in Love,” Ensign, April 1986, page 62).
Like Marie and the women in her ward, we, too, can participate in the sisterhood of the gospel. The key to developing this sisterhood is learning to follow the Savior in loving one another. Explaining how his people could become children of God, Alma commanded them that they should have “their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). To be “knit together” implies an interweaving of lives that creates a beautiful and unified whole.
Of course it can be easy to be friendly and helpful to someone with whom we have much in common, but do we reach out to those who speak different languages or have different life-styles? The gospel tells us that all women are our eternal sisters. Our challenge is to accept someone who is different, overlook a person’s weaknesses, forgive a sister who has wronged us, love someone who is angry with us, or repent and change our attitudes and actions. Such demands purify us and bring us closer to living a Christlike life.
The Lord understood that we would need help to meet life’s trials. That is why he gave us the gospel—and each other.
Discuss ways we can contribute to the ward sisterhood.
Relate—or have the sister you are visiting relate—an experience in which you have felt the influence of sisterhood.