Photo of young women in front of the Manila, Philippines Temple courtesy of

Sisters, No Effort Is Lost

While we may not always feel the significance of the little things we do, God keeps a perfect record and none of our efforts are lost.

Photo of someone washing dishes by Catt Liu
Photo by Catt Liu

Have you ever gotten stuck thinking about all the people you neglected to help or about the things you failed to get done in a given day? Have you ever wondered if you are making any difference at all?

I have. And it’s exhausting! I often feel that I am lost in the small things and buried by the big ones.

Two years ago, I was living my dream by serving a mission in the Philippines: I was talking and laughing with wonderful people as we traveled in jeepneys, I was teaching individuals from all kinds of backgrounds, and I was touching dozens of lives every day. I worked hard, and I felt that I was making a difference.

But it’s been almost two years since I came home. Now I stay up late at night to read textbooks, I get up early in the morning to write papers, I wash a dish or two here and there when the pile in the sink gets larger than I can stand, and I try to reach out to family members and friends who I often feel that I am neglecting. Am I making a difference now? It often doesn’t seem like it. And I wonder how it is that I now fall so short of my desires to improve the world when I used to be such a contributor.

These types of thoughts were consuming me one Sunday as I sat somewhat moodily in Relief Society. Folding laundry, doing dishes, figuring out meals, making things work when I was drained of energy from work and school—I knew all those things were important. But in that moment they just felt so meaningless, and I was not having any of it. But in an effort to reverse my increasingly negative attitude, I forced myself to tune into the lesson. As I participated in the discussion, I had the distinct thought that I needed to find my copy of Daughters in My Kingdom when I got home.

After church, I located the book and began flipping through it. When I got to chapter 6, A Worldwide Circle of Sisterhood, I paused to look at a few lines I had highlighted years before. At the beginning of the chapter, Eliza R. Snow simply and powerfully states, “I am well aware that a great deal is donated that never reaches the [record] books. . . . Another book is kept of your faith, your kindness, your good works, and words. Another record is kept. Nothing is lost.”

These words didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks, but they did cause me to pause. Did I really believe that God noticed my sometimes desperate efforts to serve others and prepare for the future? A feeling of confirmation slowly warmed my heart as I realized that I really did believe that! I felt a sense of peace as I recognized that God was keeping a perfect record of my imperfect efforts and that somehow those efforts would be enough. I was reminded that even though there will be times when I may feel that my efforts are insignificant, God notices each little thing I try to do. None of my efforts are lost to him, and that means the world to me.

I read on and was touched by stories of sisters who served others during greater challenges than those I was experiencing. I appreciated this quiet moment to pause, to recognize that Heavenly Father notices and magnifies our small efforts, and to decide to keep on trying.

Let us “be not weary in well-doing,” as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 64:33, “for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work.” And let us always remember that even when we may feel that we are not doing everything we wish we could, “another book is kept of [our] faith, [our] kindness, [our] good works, and words. Another record is kept. Nothing is lost.”

Read more from chapter 6 of Daughters in My Kingdom.


—Mariah Critchfield, Mormon Insights

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Find more insights

Watch or read about the powerful influence women have in “A Plea to My Sisters,” by Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Watch this video (“You Never Know”) to see how one woman who felt discouraged discovered she was making a difference.

Check out this Mormon Insights article by Katie Hollingsworth about the divine role of women in the Church.

Read about the significance of women in the Church in this Gospel Topics essay.

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  1. I love this. I think it’s easy to forget that God has a perfect understanding of how small and simple means work, and no one is better at measuring that impact than He is. It’s so easy to lose sight of the purpose of the mundane efforts we give, but He never loses sight of our progress and the ultimate goal of those efforts.

  2. I related to this article a lot. I also served my mission in the Philippines, and I got home just less than two years ago. It is great to be reminded that my efforts matter. Even when they feel inconsequential, my efforts are noticed.

  3. I really appreciate this article. Thank you for writing it. I know how hard it is to feel like all of our hard work doesn’t amount to much, but even the little things are noticed. Even if we don’t think its affecting others the time and service we give little by little shapes who we are.

  4. I really appreciated this. With school and work and everything else going on, it’s good to know that God understands our efforts.

  5. I often am lost in a world of “shoulds.” I often think to myself, I should have gone to the temple this week. I should have vacuumed and woken up early and done the dishes and read my scriptures more deeply. This article helped me realize that I cannot and “should not” (haha) walk faster than I can. And if part of my rest means watching a Netflix show or two, that’s ok, and I don’t need to feel guilty of taking the necessary breaks in my life. What I do IS good even if there is just so much more that “should” happen

  6. I have felt like this so often. There are so many people that I love and would love to keep in better contact with. But there is always so much to do. I love what Mariah wrote about being reminded that God does notice the little things and that we are laying the foundation of a great work. It means a lot to know that the Lord accepts our efforts, always.

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