Thursday, January 10, 2013

. . .

PS (Update) Andrea I didn't read your new post (below) yet and I don't have time to right now (I guess we were writing our posts at the same time, hee hee) so sorry if there's something there that I didn't address or understand. More later, but right now I have to go! :)

Gaaaa! Curse the inefficiency of writing things down (although I should be grateful I'm typing and not chiseling on gold plates, I realize). I have lots of thoughts to respond to Andrea's post, and I've been talking about them to my husband all week, but it's just such a PAIN to write it all down. However, I will try.

So, let me say first, that I share your frustration, Andrea, about these things being not-enough-talked-about and taught in the church. They do seem like essential and life-changing doctrines that should NOT be overlooked. But you asked WHY. So I will give my thoughts. First, I think we have to remember that the church is a huge, varied conglomerate of a billion (okay, millions) of different people with different ideas and backgrounds and so forth. I say that because I think any organization is hard to characterize with just a few generalizations, and when you say the mothers day talks are about "my mom was great because she made cookies"-----that is only partly true, right? Because I HAVE heard talks---and read books, articles, etc.---that teach these truths. The one you linked is an example, right? And I had run across that several times before you linked it. I'm not saying it shouldn't be MORE pervasive, because it should, but it isn't totally unknown either. When I run across Mormon/Feminist thought like this (stuff I like---that rings true to me and feels like an important addition to my understanding of womanhood) I don't necessarily feel like, "I've never heard anything like this before!", but more like, "YES! This fits in with the good things I have heard in the past, and refutes lots of things I never really believed anyway."  I guess to sum up, there IS truth being taught in the church, lots of it, and I've run across it at multiple times and from multiple sources, and it's been informing my worldview since I was in Young Womens!  I have been lucky and I've been in great wards, so I know I can't say my experience is "typical"---but I don't know that it's ATYPICAL either. I think we have to trust/hope that there ARE Young Women presidents (I hope I am one of them, ha ha) who are telling their young women about Eve and womanhood and motherhood. In fact I have used quotes from this specific article in my lessons before. So, we do what we can, and know there are others who are doing what they can, and while we can WISH it was more widespread, all we can really do is spread our own influence, you know?

Then along with that, I'm guessing your frustration comes partly from a feeling of "WHY wasn't I taught this sooner?! It's so important that I wish I had known it all along!"  Am I right about that feeling? Maybe you even think, "If I had known this, ______ in my life would have been totally different!" (Maybe I am mischaracterizing your feeling---but those are the feelings _I_ have, anyway.)  So I relate to that. But as I've been thinking about it, it really doesn't seem that different than all the other truths I am learning as I go along. And I'm only in my 30s, so I have no illusions that I've learned everything yet. So why SHOULD I have already had a total and complete understanding of womanhood and what it means for me and what it will mean in the eternities? What do I want, to have somehow known all this stuff when I was 12? Of course I didn't know it then!  I didn't know ANYTHING then! I didn't even understand what faith was (which I'm still learning), or what the atonement meant or what repentance meant or what sorrow meant or---anything. And yet, I know I was taught---I _remember_ being taught---several Truths about womanhood and how it WAS as important as the priesthood. Did I catch all the implications? No. Am I catching them now? Probably not, but I am starting to catch more of them, anyway, and the subject is expanding and opening up for me as I mature and start to have different questions and different experiences. Argh, it totally sounds like I'm trying to argue with you, and I'm NOT! I'm just saying, I think maybe the reason it feels to us like this stuff is so NEW and LIFE-CHANGING isn't because it was never taught anywhere, but because WE weren't recognizing/internalizing/caring about the truths when we DID hear them---because we didn't yet have the experience to  recognize them yet.  So, I can teach them to my young women, and I am trying to, and I will also try to teach my daughters. But I shouldn't be surprised if they suddenly as young moms say, "WOW! This stuff is so amazing, why didn't you TELL me?!"---because that's the time when they really start to NEED to know it.

And the women who feel marginalized and lesser, and say "I always felt the priesthood was better and motherhood was secondary"----their experiences ARE valid, you're right. And we have to do something to reach them (which I think is just the same thing I've been saying---trying to teach it as best we can, within our sphere of influence).  But I also hate letting them have the only voice, because their experience is not MORE valid than mine, and mine is: I've always known motherhood and womanhood is mind-blowing and glorious, I've always been grateful for it, I've never wanted to be a man, I've always loved and respected Eve. (Well---as long as I can remember, anyway. As long as I've been thinking about such things.)  I've recognized truths about these doctrines as I've found them (in various places---church, BYU, seminary), all along my journey to understanding, and I feel like I've been able to gather and digest more and more of them as I've been getting older. And I hope that will continue until I'm a total expert on the purpose and destiny of womanhood when I'm 90. :)  I think the doctrine has been there all along (some of Joseph Smith's statements on women are amazing!) and we just have to recognize it.

And, of course, we could emphasize it more---I agree with you there. We have to help young girls NOT feel lesser, but what can "the church" really do to make all the teachers, with their varied backgrounds and teaching methods, somehow all get on the same page? I think we just have to do it ourselves, bit by bit. Teach our daughters and our sons (and ourSELVES!), and spread out from there. What else can we do?

Did I just do the husband thing of trying to "solve your problem" instead of listening and letting you vent? I didn't mean to. And I'm sorry your family was so lame about it all. It's so disappointing when you try to share something so cool and transformative (to you) and it's treated like some crazy theory instead of heart-shaking doctrine. Teachings like this are what give my life meaning. They're what make me happy and fulfilled as a mother instead of bored and frustrated. And when I DO get bored and frustrated, they help bring me back out of myself and show me what kind of work I'm a part of. They inspire me, just like Elder Holland's talk last conference about not turning back, once we put our hand to the work. So I'm totally with you on the amazing-ness of sharing this knowledge. I think, though, the best question isn't "why aren't these things not talked about more," but instead, "How can _I_ teach about these things more?"  Sorry if I took forever and did a bad job of actually saying that. :)

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