In the media, you see her as the composed, strong, confident woman she is. But you know what? She is also fun, sassy, and witty. She has to present herself to the media in the most stoic of fashions because everything she says and does is dissected for analysis. No matter the setting, however, you can't look at her and not realize her keen sense of fashion and intelligence.
She shared her story and many thoughts with us throughout the evening. One thing I appreciate about her is how matter-of-fact she presents the issues of abuse and abduction. She does not shy away from this or act embarrassed like so many do. She shows us that we can talk about these things, we can have a support system, we can continue to live life the way we have always wanted. In fact, she gave the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually abused in their lifetimes and she knew that many of the people in the room were going through difficult times right now.
My skin was covered with goosebumps throughout most of the night as my soul filled with love for those I can help and love from my Heavenly Father. After listening to Elizabeth, I do not know how anyone can not believe in God, can not believe that we have protection from a divine source.
Of all the thoughts she shared, of which I wish I had a recording, and I feel appropriate presenting to a public audience, the following stuck out to me:
- When you lift yourself, you lift others with you.
- It would be rude of me to not share my story because it can help so many others.
- Those times were the closest I have ever been with my Heavenly Father.
- I have too many wonderful things in life to devote my thoughts or time to what happened.
- The morning after Elizabeth returned home, her mother came into her bedroom and shared with her, "This man is evil beyond what words can describe. He has taken nine months of your life, do not let him take another moment."
- You cannot talk about this story if you remove religion. Without religion, there is no story.
- Had this not happened in my life, no one would care what I had to say. I would not be able to talk about abuse and abduction and make a difference. I am able to help so many others because I went through this.
In the LDS church, we teach that one of our main purposes here on this earth is our free agency. God's Plan of Happiness is based around the atonement and the agency therein. Elizabeth said that, throughout her entire captivity, she knew that what her captor (she referred to him as "my captor") was trying to brain wash her with lies because everything he was saying took away our agency in this life and she knew that was not God's plan.
When she said she felt closer to God during this trial than she has at any other time, I thought about how God will not give us a trial we are not strong enough to endure. I can't help but feel like her trial was so severe of a test that our Heavenly Father was right there by her side helping her to endure throughout those nine months. There is no question in my mind about how true her statement rings.
On a lighter note, one of the group asked her how dating was. Her response? "Just like everyone else - messy."
If you ever have an opportunity to share an evening in the company of Elizabeth Smart, you would be a fool to not. She is a woman of indescribable measure and will change more lives than she will ever know.