5 Highlights for “By Union of Feeling” by Sharon Eubank

by | Oct 14, 2020

3 women

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

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Sister Eubank is a gifted speaker and frequently conveys gospel concepts and truths from a different perspective than others. I find her comments about getting along with others, from the October 2020 Women’s Conference, refreshing and down-to-earth.

Her complete talk can be found here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions which resonate the most with you and which you feel will make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All quotes by Sharon Eubank and in blue.

Quote #1 (union of feeling)

Sister Eubank cites a stellar quote by Joseph Smith. I love the candid way Joseph Smith frequently talks. He was self-disclosing, and he had no problem admitting his own errors or addressing the ones which surfaced among the Saints.

On June 9, the Prophet “said he was going to preach mercy[.] Supposing that Jesus Christ and [the] angels should object to us on frivolous things, what would become of us? We must be merciful and overlook small things.” President Smith continued, “It grieves me that there is no fuller fellowship—if one member suffer all feel it—by union of feeling we obtain pow’r with God.”

That small sentence struck me like lightning. By union of feeling we obtain power with God. This world isn’t what I want it to be. There are many things I want to influence and make better. And frankly, there is a lot of opposition to what I hope for, and sometimes I feel powerless. Lately, I have been asking myself searching questions: How can I understand people around me better? How will I create that “union of feeling” when all are so different? What power from God might I access if I am just a little bit more unified with others?

Joseph Smith lets us know the Savior and the angels love us and work with us anyway, despite the silly, ridiculous things we do and suggests we follow that example. Second, he wished there was better friend-shipping and inclusion because when we are united, we all get more power and miracles from heaven. Sister Eubank refers to the elevated civil unrest, political difficulties and the presence of polarized opinions which find their way into church life. I love her for acknowledging and giving life to a difficult topic.

Possible Questions: How would you sum up Joseph Smith’s quote? “Supposing that Jesus Christ and [the] angels should object to us on frivolous things, what would become of us? We must be merciful and overlook small things.” What does this message communicate to you about your own life? What does Joseph Smith’s second quote teach you? “It grieves me that there is no fuller fellowship—if one member suffer all feel it—by union of feeling we obtain pow’r with God.” Among friends and family, have you noticed a loss of unity due to today’s political climate and chaos in general? What are some things we can do to repair the breach? (Methinks build rapport and trust by serving, loving, including, and inviting anyway…and yes, it means turning the other cheek sometimes.)

Quote #2 (Mercy, gossip and biting words)

Sister Eubank equates mercy with not gossiping or speaking unkind words about anyone. It’s a great check and balance for all of us.

My own Relief Society president recently said: “The thing I … promise … you is that I will keep your name safe. … I will see you for who you are at your best. … I will never say anything about you that is unkind, that is not going to lift you. I ask you to do the same for me because I am terrified, frankly, of letting you down.”

Joseph Smith told the sisters on that June day in 1842:

“When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind. …

“… The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more are we dispos’d to look with compassion on perishing souls—[we feel that we want] to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back. [My talk is intended for] all this Society—if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.”

This was counsel specifically to the Relief Society. Let’s not judge each other or let our words bite. Let’s keep each other’s names safe and give the gift of mercy.

Possible Questions: What would happen to the level of rapport, trust and safety we would feel if most Saints were committed to this kind of mercy? What happens to our own souls when we gossip and critique? (We are miserable when we focus on the guilt of others.) When you realize you are the object of unkind words and gossip, what can you do to better the outcome and how you feel? How far does a simple greeting and welcoming conversation go with you? Do you make sure those you are assigned to minister to are greeted and recognized at Church?

Quote #3 (boat swing)

Rowers in a boat make a great visual analogy. Show a picture if you can.

Rowers must rein in their fierce independence and at the same time hold true to their individual capabilities. Races are not won by clones. Good crews are good blends—someone to lead the charge, someone to hold something in reserve, someone to fight the fight, someone to make peace. No rower is more valuable than another, all are assets to the boat, but if they are to row well together, each must adjust to the needs and capabilities of the others—the shorter-armed person reaching a little farther, the longer-armed person pulling in just a bit.

Differences can be turned to advantage instead of disadvantage. Only then will it feel as if the boat is moving on its own. Only then does pain entirely give way to exultation. Good “swing” feels like poetry.

Possible Questions: What happens when one person dominates and feels the need to outshine others? How do you feel when the same few people are featured and others are passed over? (Both of these become win/lose situations and the boat goes in circles and doesn’t get very far.) When we stop to include and develop everyone, the whole group moves much further. What are some ways we can encourage everyone to be involved and participate? How can we allow everyone a moment to shine and be patient when it’s not our turn to be in front?

Quote #4 (messy unity)

Unity doesn’t magically happen; it takes work. It’s messy, sometimes uncomfortable, and happens gradually when we clear away the bad as fast as the good can grow.

Each of us is going to have deeply wounding experiences, things that should never happen. Each of us will also, at various times, allow pride and loftiness to corrupt the fruit we bear. But Jesus Christ is our Savior in all things. His power reaches to the very bottom and is reliably there for us when we call on Him. We all beg for mercy for our sins and failures. He freely gives it. And He asks us if we can give that same mercy and understanding to each other.

Jesus put it bluntly: “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

If you find yourself mentally identifying those around you who make unity hard…there’s possibly a point missed. Unity doesn’t happen until your own heart and mind from within are ready to be unified first. Which means the focus is on you (kind of like the mote and the beam parable). Most of the messy and uncomfortable work comes from our own reaching for higher plateaus and quality of being. It’s not true growth unless it is uncomfortable. We clear out our own bad as fast as we can grow better things in our habits and thought processes. Then we are ready to be more accepting and peaceful with others.

unity; agreement, harmony, peace, solidarity
understanding; awareness, insight, perception
mercy; compassionate, forgiving, magnanimous, benevolent.

benevolent: big-hearted, helpful, generous
magnanimous: generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness

Possible Questions: Unity, mercy and understanding are important words throughout this talk – which words or their synonyms stands out to you the most for you today and why? Which of these qualities have you experienced or noticed in others? What character trait do you feel you could work on?

Quote #5 (less by activism)

We may not yet be where we want to be, and we are not now where we will be. I believe the change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another. Why? Because we are building Zion—a people “of one heart and one mind.”

As covenant women, we have broad influence. That influence is applied in everyday moments when we are studying with a friend, putting children to bed, talking to a seatmate on the bus, preparing a presentation with a colleague. We have power to remove prejudice and build unity.

Great closing quote if you still have time!

Final Comment

Remember, you were called to teach this lesson for a reason. Building and promoting peace sets you apart as a child of God. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself!

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