Sunday, March 27, 2011


A few days ago I was saying a prayer on my dinner, and a word I don't usually use came into my mind. Sustain. I asked God that the food would sustain me, even as I was wondering about this word. I thought about the definition as I ate. Of course, I know it means to support, but I wondered about other possible nuances of meaning and so I looked it up. Here is what I found on

  1. to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.
  2. to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
  3. to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
  4. to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.
  5. to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.
  6. to supply with food, drink, and other necessities of life.
  7. to provide for (an institution or the like) by furnishing means or funds.
  8. to support (a cause or the like) by aid or approval.
  9. to uphold as valid, just, or correct, as a claim or the person making it: The judge sustained the lawyer's objection.
  10. to confirm or corroborate, as a statement: Further investigation sustained my suspicions.

I have been writing a chapter for the book called The Society For Relief, and I keep thinking about all the ways the Relief Society sisters sustain each other and these 10 definitions are all wonderful examples.

I am sustained so much by sisterhood. The sustaining doesn't always come from my local relief society--sometimes it is other sisters in other wards or in other states that sustain me. It's amazing when I think of it. In this world of so many ways to connect--most people are less connected than ever, but because we are part of a global society of sisters, we can use all this connectivity to further support each other. For example, I have such a wonderful group of women who have been collaborating with me on this book, and some of us have never met in person. But because of the Internet, Skype, Google groups, Google Docs, blogs, etc, we feel very close.

Today in sacrament meeting I was praying for a friend of mine who has to make some hard decisions. As I was pouring out my heart for her--it was the strangest thing--I could feel that women I know and love very much were praying for me.

I think of all the times we raise our hands to "sustain" people in their callings. We never raise our hands to sustain a couple has newly accepted the calling to be a mother or father, but I think that there is an unspoken hand raising, and I think this is the most important calling in which our members need sustaining.

I'm grateful for all the people, prayers, angels, ancestors, food, health, air, love, and who knows what else that sustain me.

Who/what sustains you?


  1. Lovely. When I was reading the definition of sustain, doula came to mind. That is what I do, I sustain women through birth.

    Is that more of what a blessingway is? Saying we will sustain a mother as she journeys into motherhood. Rather than just a shower of gifts.

  2. Scripture study (and chocolate) sustains me! There are many other sustaining forces in my life as well. I love the thought of sustaining mothers and fathers in their calling as parents. Many of the older women in my ward tell me that they love to see my family grow. Their support is one of the things that sustains me when I feel like the chaos my family creates in Sacrament meeting should cause them to feel otherwise. Thanks for the post!

  3. My faith is what sustains me. Couldn't have had this baby without it.

  4. I love the comment about the Blessingway. That is EXACTLY what I needed when I had my first 'Mother Blessing' with baby # 4. I was in dire need of support and encouragement from sisters around me. Robyn shared one such wish, as did everyone, that did sustain me as I prepared emotionally for labor.

    I too am sustained by women who understand me and support me. Also, when I have my husband's support it helps a ton.

  5. Beautiful post! What a nice insight on the word I've heard so often but not really thought of in this way



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