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A Modern-Day Esther

10:54 am Thursday, March 17, 2011
by christa woodall

I love being a woman.

Between International Women's Day last week and Purim this weekend, I've spent a lot of time lately reflecting on what it means to be a woman - feminine yet fierce, courageous and strong, charitable and sweet. Men are great, too, don't get me wrong - but there is something remarkable about women throughout history.

Last night as I reread the account of Esther, I was so impressed again by her courage and clarity, recognizing her ability to turn the tide and preserve her people by putting her life on the line. There's never a time I've read her "and if I perish, I perish" without chills. To trust so wholly in God is the kind of faith it takes a lifetime to develop.

And yet there are Esthers out there today. One modern-day Esther is Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her home in 2002 and subjected to daily horrors by her captors until escaping almost nine months later.

Upon reaching adulthood, Smart has worked actively to champion for legislation and causes related to child abduction and recovery programs. Just last week, she was one of four women to receive the DVF Award, recognizing women who have had "the courage to fight, the power to survive, and the leadership to inspire," according to the award's website.

Reading the transcript of her captor's trial last fall, I was amazed by how Smart was able to remain focused on her identity as a daughter of God throughout the experience and how she's been able to use it in reaching out to others. She may not have been called upon to save a nation, but her strength and composure are sure to lift up other survivors of abuse.

"I know that there is a God and He loves us and that no matter what people can take from you or do to you or harm you, they can't take that away from you," Smart said upon leaving on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2009. "I want [the people of France] to know God exists and that He loves them, and there isn't anything in this world that could possibly change what He feels for them. And that they will never be alone, and that He wants them to be happy."

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once called women "God's supreme creation." I agree wholeheartedly. How grateful I am for strong women like Esther and Elizabeth who are able to maintain courage amid challenges, inspiring us all to draw upon that inner strength, rely on God, and do our parts to change the world, whether that be as a mother, a daughter, a wife, or a leader in business and civics.



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Tags: Esther, Elizabeth Smart, Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, womanhood, courage, faith

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