My vacation updates will resume tomorrow. For now, I have to get something off of my chest. Not really something that has been bothering me recently-recently, but something that has bothered me for a long time, over time. Forgive me, too, because my thoughts are going to be pretty disjointed; I'll do my best to explain my wandering feelings:
I think the "thing" that bothers me began when I first heard somebody complain that the Gospel of Jesus Christ might be true, but the people in the Church were so ignorant and flawed, so it wasn't worth the effort. That was nearly 10 years ago, and I have been bombarded with that type of thinking ever since. Most of the things I hear (or mostly read) have to do with the role of women and their frustration with the Church and the Gospel in general. Many of these women (and men) see the Church as anti-woman or at the very least, chauvinistic.
When my grandmother --our grandmothers --were growing up, listening to President David O. McKay preach about the family or the role of women was not an offensive thing. My grandmother told me last week, during our family vacation, that President McKay once said that if parents allowed their children's feet to touch the floor of the Chapel during Sacrament Meeting, than the child was in charge. She then went on to talk about how parents these days just don't know how to parent.
Of course, she is 85 years old. When I'm 85 years old, I'll be thinking the same thing about my grandchildren!
My grandmother (and other women) were taught, also, to wear dresses to everything. The sexual revolution hadn't occurred yet, and so the idea that one may not wear such clothing didn't even cross their minds.
It was my mother's world --no, my mother's society --that decided women needed more than what they had been given. I'm not one to complain about the sexual revolution. For the most part, it did a lot of good. Women are seen in a better light, we can wear jeans (hallelujah!), education and pay are more equalized, and our children are better for it. But, as with all things, the pendulum also swung hard left. Hard left.
Nate Oman left a post yesterday that really got me thinking about this. It's about why society now is looking back, with almost a nostalgic and hopeful glance, to Jane Austen. It seems that chastity --or the ideal of chastity --is a universal truth (to which I utter a resounding "duh!"). Nate does a much better discussing it, though, so I won't go into details here. Just imagine our over-sexed society, looking for happiness, and surprisingly, we're finding it in the values and morals of Regency England --values and morals that the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to teach today. Makes one stop and pause for a moment, eh?
For years now (going back a few years, to be honest), I have heard over and over and over that LDS women are too hard on themselves and need to give themselves a break. I discussed this at length here. These thoughts have been circulating for a while, ever since the embarrassing --yes, embarrassing--uproar over President Julie Beck's talk at the October 2007 General Conference. I was mortified at the reaction many women had over her words (too many blogs to list, you know). The things she said were hard to hear --but they were needed, wanted. Our society has shunned so much goodness, and I was honestly thrilled to hear a leader --a woman! --proclaim that the basic tenets of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the foreordained role of women has not changed, will not change, and will forever be what it is to be, without apology to the world. [If you can't tell, I was a bit excited about her enthusiasm!]
But it felt like I was only one of a few at times. And I just couldn't --still can't! --understand why women who proclaim to be of God and believe in their Divine Worth are so easily persuaded to cringe and ignore the words of His prophets and leaders.
Then there was this article. I had no words when I finished reading it. None. (Jumbo Shrimp over at Flip Flop Mama gave some good opinions about it.) How does one respond to such obvious lies? And how happy is Satan that these people actually bought into it?
And lastly, of course, there was this post about what people actually follow when receiving Prophetic counsel, advice, and commandments. Many of the responses left me in quiet reflection, wondering at how so many people could have the best gift in the world right in their faces and then ignore it.
Last night, came across the written transcript of Sheri Dew's talk from the 2008 Women's Conference. (Mormon Women: Who We Are provides all of the transcripts! This is where I got my "copy". Go read them!) The things she talked about was an answer to my prayer. Truly, her words cut me to my center --like Pres. Beck, her words are of truth and light, and I cannot ignore them. In the beginning she says this:
It is because of the range of our experiences that we as women can be a tough crowd. We
sometimes pounce if a speaker doesn’t say just what we want to hear. But here is the
reality: We each have our own customized opportunities to deal with disappointment, yet
our disappointments don’t change the doctrine. My heartache about not yet marrying or bearing children in this life does not change the doctrine about marriage or motherhood.
None of our lives are perfect, and neither are we. Nonetheless, in the spirit of not
offending or overwhelming one another, it can be tempting to water down the message.
But I don’t want to run that risk today. I believe in who you are too much to soft-peddle
the truth. So today, I wish to speak the unvarnished truth. My message is a plea and an
expression of complete confidence in us. (bold added)
I put in bold what I think (and could be wrong) was a reference to the letter many Blogging women sent to President Beck, basically telling her she was wrong in her talk in General Conference. And that's a whole other subject I could write about, but won't. For what it's worth, I appreciate both Pres. Beck and Sister Dew because they do not mince words. They don't apologize for the truth --not quite unlike the prophets Abinadi or Elijah --and I find this refreshing and wonderful! I'm sure the Prophets have always spoken plainly, but perhaps I'm finally old enough (humble enough?) to listen and understand? Another part of Sheri Dew's talk was this:
We are here to influence the world rather than to be influenced by the world. If we could
unleash the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would
change overnight. No one has more influence on husbands than wives, on children than
their mothers, or on young men than young women. Show me the women of any family
or community, and I will show you the character and soul of that family and community.
I repeat, if we would unleash the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would change overnight. (bold added)
It's true, isn't it? What motivates men? Didn't Troy go to war for Helen? How much influence does a woman have upon all of humanity?
This is why Satan has never underestimated us. He knows we are at the heart of the
Father’s plan. So from the beginning, Lucifer has worked with a vengeance to distort the
very definition of womanhood and to confuse everyone about us, including us.
Here are just a few of Lucifer’s lies: That men are smarter, have all the power, and are
more important, so if we want to have influence we should be more like them; that
marriage and family are confining; that motherhood is menial and a waste of any talented
woman’s time; that women are perpetually frazzled and failing; and that a woman’s value
is based on her size, shape and what she accomplishes outside the home.
Too many women have bought these lies. Our culture is disintegrating at the speed of
light, and unfortunately, our gender is doing a lot of the damage. Sleazy, immoral,
cunning women who flaunt their indiscretions jam the airwaves and monopolize
magazine covers. Yet we watch their shows, donate to their causes, and even see them as
models. I recently heard a talk-show host quoted in Relief Society. Come on, surely we
haven’t become so numb that we would endorse an openly immoral celebrity in the
Lord’s organization for women? (bold added)
So frustrating, really, the truth that is in these words. It's not the truth that is frustrating --it's that women of God are actually believing the lies the world is telling them to believe:
Sisters, we’re smarter than this. We know too much to fall for Lucifer’s lies. If the world
can’t look to us for a true definition of womanhood, where can it look?
Sisters, it is high time for us to arise and have the influence God intended us to have. It is
high time for us to lead the women of the world. It is high time for us to model the
distinctiveness and happiness that sets true followers of Jesus Christ apart.
So how do we arise? In an early Relief Society meeting, the Prophet Joseph gave the
women their marching orders, saying they should do the work the Savior had done (see
RSGB Minutes, 26 May, 1842). The Savior “came not to be ministered unto, but to
minister” (Mark 10:45). If He came to minister, then so did we. What would change if
you thought of your life as a ministry? I am not talking about church callings or service
projects. Those come and go. I’m not talking about doing more, although it may mean
doing things differently. I am talking about focus and perhaps further consecration.
Making of your life a ministry means consciously asking yourself in everyday situations,
“Why has the Lord brought me here today?” and then looking for ways to build up people
and the kingdom. It means asking the Lord what He needs you to do rather than
feverishly working down your list of To-Do’s that may or may not have lasting
significance. Ministering might mean talking to your friends of other faiths about your
spiritual journey or starting a blog to share what you believe online, or mentoring a young adult. It is our stewardship, after all, to pass along the legacy of what it means to be a
woman of God to the next generation. (bold added)
Two more quotes, and then I'll stop:
Holiness means walking away from the philosophies of man. It means looking to
prophets for spiritual counsel not celebrities, who may be appealing but who all come
packing personal motives and an arsenal of half-truths. Some like Sherem have “much
power of speech, according to the power of the devil” (Jacob 7:4). It is deadly to take
counsel from anyone whose primary motive is to build their own kingdom.
We are followers of Jesus Christ. And we have been His followers and have loved Him
for a long, long time. Nothing is more important than working and sacrificing and
enduring for Him. Let us be the generation of women that finally walks away from the world. If we will Awake to who we are, Arise by making of our lives ministries, and
come unto Christ by steadily becoming more holy, we will have a degree of influence the
world and the kingdom of God have never felt before—an influence that has no limit and
no end. We can do this. I know we can. (bold added)
Dear reader, I don't say any of this so that you will think I am preaching or bragging. I say this so that the world will know what I am feeling inside. I am weak of mind and make many, many mistakes. I often plan goals for righteousness' sake and fail before I even begin. My scripture study is weak, my prayers are rushed, my desire to overcome terrible habits is stronger than the ability to do it. My family can attest to my anger, my selfishness, my harsh judgements and my rudeness. But I'm trying. I really am trying.
I desperately want to be the type of woman that God needs me to be. I want to stand firm and immovable in Faith and Truth. I want my children to see me as an example of Christ, and I want my husband to turn to me for spiritual advice. I want to be the type of woman Sheri Dew and Julie Beck and Abinadi and Alma and Jesus Christ speak about. My desire and my resolve are there --but I need to stop wishing and hoping, and get up and start doing!
Thank you for listening to me ramble a bit about the things that mean the world to me. If you are still reading, please know that I write this to make sense of all the overwhelming amounts of conflicting information. I know where I need to go for Truth, but sometimes, here in this blogging land, it's hard to find. So, thanks for letting me figure it out! You're the best...