Tonight for the Relief Society Birthday Dinner I was Lucy Mack Smith in the little program. I really didn't have to to much, just wear a bonnet and give a little talk about her life. I spent most of the day paraphrasing a talk by Jaynann Payne and turning it into first person. Lucy Mack Smith was an amazing, faithful, strong, woman. Here is the part I gave tonight:
Good evening, my name is Lucy Mack Smith. I was born July 8, 1775 just after the battles of Lexington and Concord to Solomon Mack and Lydia Gates Mack. As a child, I loved to hear my father tell of his adventures fighting in the French and Indian wars and the Revolutionary War.
When I was young, my father was away on sailing and business expeditions for many years, yet returned home impoverished. But even though my family lacked material possessions, and wilderness conditions precluded an education for the children, my mother provided a rich spiritual and cultural atmosphere for us.
As the youngest of eight children, I was dearly loved but not spoiled. When I was in my teens I was able to nurse my two older sisters during their illnesses. Both Lovisa and Lobina died within months of each other and were in their late twenties. Their deaths left me with many questions about religion and I deeply felt that my spiritual needs were unfulfilled.
Feeling depressed, I went to live with my brother Stephen for a while in Tunbridge Vermont where I met a tall, gentle-voiced young man named Joseph Smith. After a year’s acquaintance, we were married on January 24, 1796. We were greatly blessed when my brother and his business partner each gave us $500 for a wedding present. A thousand dollars in those days was a huge sum of money, for land could be bought for a dollar an acre.
We prospered on our farm in Tunbridge for about six years and were blessed with the births of Alivin and Hyrum. In 1802 we moved to Randolph and opened a mercantile establishment. While there, I was struck with a cold that developed into tuberculosis after weeks of fever and coughing. Joseph was grief stricken, for the doctors all said I would die. I prayed with all the fervor of my soul and made a covenant with God that if he would let me live I would serve him. I heard a voice say: “SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND; KNOCK, AND IT SHALL BE OPENED UNTO YOU. LET YOUR HEART BE COMFORTED; YE BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME.”
The power of healing and faith was also taught to me when my young daughter Sophronia was critically ill for nearly three months and the doctors despaired for her life. When she stopped breathing altogether, I grabbed her and paced the floor, praying fervently. Those present told me that it was all of no use that my child was dead. But Sophronia gasped for breath and lived as my prayers were answered.
My prayers were also answered when Joseph, Jr. had a typhus infection in his leg and had to undergo three excruciating operations. Joseph told me “Mother, I want you to leave the room, for I know you cannot bear to see me suffer so; father can stand it, but you have carried me so much, and watched over me so long, you are almost worn out.’ Then looking up into my face, his eyes swimming in tears, he continued; ‘Now mother, promise me that you will not stay, will you? The Lord will help me, and I shall get through with it.”
This miracle did happen as he went through the surgery and was able to recover quickly but as a result he was lame for several years and walked with a slight limp the rest of his life.
I was interested in religion from an early age and searched earnestly for the truth. After Joseph Smith, Sr., had become disenchanted with attending any church meetings because of the warring and discordant atmosphere, I prayed that he would find the true gospel and accept it. I received a beautiful dream that brought reassurance that Joseph would hear and accept the pure and undefiled gospel of the Son of God at some future time.
Looking back at the years when Joseph had his first vision and was translating the Book of Mormon I felt that the heavens were moved in our behalf and that angels were watching over us. I love the Book of Mormon and bare powerful testimony of its truths to all who will listen. Once a man called out from a crowd of several hundred: “Is the Book of Mormon true?” I replied:
“That book was brought forth by the power of God, and translated by the gift of the Holy Ghost; and, if I could make my voice sound as loud as the trumpet of Michael, the Archangel, I would declare the truth from land to land, and from sea to sea, and the echo should reach every isle, until every member of the family of Adam should be left without excuse. For I do testify that God has revealed himself to man again in these last days, and set his hand to gather his people upon a goodly land, and, if they obey his commandments, it shall be unto them for an inheritance.”
I was once chosen to lead a company of eighty saints from Waterloo Branch with only my two young sons to assist me. During the trip there arose some contention to which I replied, “Brethren and sisters, we call ourselves Saints, and profess to have come out from the world for the purpose of serving God at the expense of all earthly things; and will you, at the very onset, subject the cause of Christ to ridicule by your own unwise and improper conduct? You profess to put your trust in God, then how can you feel to murmur and complain as you do! You are even more unreasonable than the children of Israel were; for here are my sisters pining for their rocking chairs, and brethren from whom I expected firmness and energy, declare that they positively believe they shall starve to death before they get to the end of their journey. And why is it so? Have any of you lacked? Have not I set food before you every day, and made you, who had not provided for yourselves, as welcome as my own children? Where is your faith? Where is your confidence in God? … Now brethren and sisters, if you will all of you raise your desires to heaven, that the ice may be broken up, and we be set at liberty, as sure as the Lord lives, it will be done.”
Throughout my life I was able to raise nine of my eleven children to adulthood. I nurtured the budding faith of each with my love of teaching and reading from the Bible and praying and honoring God. I endured a fiery crucible of trial and persecution after the loss of my dear husband in 1840 which followed with more dreadful calamity and greater grief during the next four years with the deaths of four sons, Joseph, Hyrum, Samuel, and Don Carlos, four grandchildren, and two daughters-in-law.
Years after my death, Sister Jaynann Payne once said of me, “Lucy Mack Smith’s example has relevance and inspiration for the members of the Church today; faith to honor our ancestors through genealogy and temple work; faith to teach our children to love and honor God; faith to honor our husbands and the priesthood; faith to hold “never-to-be-forgotten” family home evenings; faith in ourselves as parents and homemakers; faith to endure trials and tribulations with steadfastness to the gospel of truth; faith to give all that we have to help build our eternal family; faith to bear our solemn witness of God’s truths to our families and fellowmen everywhere; and faith to lead those souls of infinite worth, by example and precept, back to their eternal Father and family.