Sheri L. Dew: Asking Questions and Wrestling for Answers
Sheri L. Dew. Chief Executive Officer of Deseret Book, gave quite a personal and compelling talk about the importance of asking questions about gospel issues. She also encouraged each Society member to be the kind of person whom others can go to with their questions.
Dew recounted an experience when she was invited to speak at Claremont Graduate University’s Department of Mormon Studies. She hesitantly accepted, not knowing whether she would face a hostile audience. She gave her message to a group of faculty, students, and local LDS members. At the end, the moderator handed her a few of a list of questions that members of the audience had penned, which she answered. After the lecture concluded, she asked for the remaining stack of questions. Dew read them, noting that the questions ran the gamut of gospel topics. These questions prompted Dew to start thinking about the power of questions, and how questions can then lead to powerful answers. Dew began compiling a list of questions from members of the LDS community.
But this exercise was not just a topic of recreational interest to Dew; her own niece was struggling with a testimony. So Dew encouraged her niece to ask questions, and to begin a “wrestle” with the Lord for answers. “Questions are good,” says Dew, “they lead somewhere.” Dew testified to her niece, and to Conference attendees, that questions are especially good when they are asked in an environment of faith rather than doubt. “It’s okay to say ‘I don’t understand it ‘or ‘I don’t even like it,’ but if asked to the Lord with a background of faith, it can lead to amazing spiritual growth.”
Dew added that spiritual wrestling takes time, and hard work. Quoting Truman Madsen, she said:
“[Madsen] could find nothing in the scriptures, ancient or modern, to excuse anyone from brain sweat and from the arduous lifetime burden of seeking ‘revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge.’”
Wrestling is an anomaly in a “Google” world where we expect instant answers, she stated. But coupled with work, a soft heart is crucial to learning. While testimony may take place in the mind, conversion takes place in the heart.
Dew then gave her opinion of the items which are worthy of a wrestle, including among others understanding the power of the atonement, and how to receive answer to prayer. And then she relayed heartfelt experiences from her own life in which she was blessed with peaceful revelation after lengthy personal wrestles. Dew testified that we should all wrestle to understand what the Savior went through in the atonement so that we do not have to go through this life alone. “Jesus Christ is the Savior, and is filled with healing power. There are answers.”
Dew believes that in order to take the knowledge of the Savior to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, the Lord needs men and women who are willing to engage in the wrestle, who are willing to ask questions, and who feel comfortable to invite questions from those who struggle. She concluded by inviting all attendees to evaluate with what we are wrestling and to recommit to the wrestle so that our testimonies can grow.
By Julie Smith
Posted: March 10, 2015