Marilyn, Kelly, I have so enjoyed reading your comments. These discussions have also led to some fantastic conversations with my own hubby. We started with the pants movement, moved into some awesome fun speculating what "priestess" would entail and ended up on polygamy. Those two hours were the highlight of my week. It reminded me to chat with my hubby more often. :) Plus, my hubs always brings up things I wouldn't think of on my own. That whole yin to my yang thing--or, in a less fun way of saying it--his brain just works differently than mine.
But I did have a few thoughts I wanted to share here on the blog. First, I'm so glad you responded Marilyn. I really don't think I was taught much in church or seminary while I was growing up about WHY motherhood is so fabulous. I really don't. I was taught lots of good things though. All of my desire to be a mother came from watching my mom (Marilyn--good point that girls watch their moms a lot) and being part of a really fun family. I didn't really understand that there was doctrine about motherhood or womanhood. I just knew that it was what I wanted to do.
I think I would have enjoyed learning more about it, but I have always been predisposed to think about gender more than other people. I do have a master's degree in masculinity studies, so that probably says something about my general interest in the topic of gender. Even if I was more interested in it than the average girl, I probably wasn't ready to receive the information and make it a part of myself.
On the first Sunday of January I taught the Relief Society lesson and I talked about grace. (This ties back eventually--hang with.) I used Brad Wilcox's talk from the New Era called "His Grace is Sufficient" and then challenged the sisters to go home and read and study Elder Bednar's talk "The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality." Yesterday I asked the RS sisters to share any thoughts they had about the talk. Two sisters said that after they finished reading the talk they felt humbled. They said they thought they understood grace but after reading Elder Bednar's talk they realized they didn't understand grace at all and felt a desire to dig deeper into the topic and into the gospel in general.
I thought of Marilyn's blog post. Maybe things hit us hard when we are ready to receive them and not any other time. And maybe there are things that stand out to us because of our interests/talents/abilities that might not strike other people with the same power. I know that not everyone would have the same list of talks/articles that were life-changing as my list, but I know that other people study the gospel just as much and far more than I do.
Here's a portion of my list of life-changers: the Bednar talk I listed above about grace. AMAZING.
Elder Eyring's talk "O Remember, Remember" and
Elder Eyring's book To Draw Closer to God.
I bet your list is different.
My point is that after reading what Marilyn had to say and hearing those two sisters make those comments, I felt less . . . upset . . . that I didn't know things sooner than I did. I still want to preach with a voice of thunder to the YW about these things, and be an example of motherhood and womanhood, but the Holy Ghost has to teach these things and the girls have to be receptive to the message. My own daughters though--I will make sure I teach these things whenever an opportune moment arises.
On a different note (and I realize this post is already too long), I really appreciated your idea Kelly of having the YW integrated more into adult woman responsibilities. When I was called as RS president I read in the handbook that one of a RS presidents responsibilities was to build strong ties between the YW and the RS sisters. The YW president graciously allowed the RS to take over 6 YW activities during the year. Last year we met with the girls three times in May and the RS sisters taught the YW how to sew sanitary napkins which were then donated to an organization that sent them to Africa. We have 11 sewing machines set up in the cultural hall with a RS sister sitting by each one to guide the girls as they sewed. We did that the last two nights. The first night I talked about the blessings of living in the United States and how much we should love our sisters around the world and then we taught the girls how to cut out the fabric. It was a huge success. We assigned one RS sister to each girl to take them little reminders about the activity and offer rides and help with the sewing. We had two girls attend who hadn't attended in years. It was awesome.
Then in October we met with the girls three weeks in a row to teach cooking. We put the girls in groups of about 5 and sent the groups to different homes in the ward where they participated in cooking a meal. The first week we taught a basic red sauce (that you could turn in spagetti sauce or pizza sauce, etc) and then gave the girls a handful of recipes that they could make once they knew how to make red sauce. The second night we taught them a basic white sauce (roux) with all the recipes they could make using the white sauce (like cheese sauce and alfredo sauce and sausage gravy and biscuits). The third week we met together in the gym and had a big taste-testing session where everyone (all the YW and RS sisters) brought something they were good at making and everyone tasted everyone's food and chatted. It was a great success.
This coming May we are going to focus on education. I really think this has been helpful in getting the YW and RS sisters to know each other better. The girls were very responsive and the turn-out was great.
If any of you have any other great idea of things you wish the RS would do with the YW--let me know! I'm the one who spearheads these things and I'm not always sure how I can best support the YW program.
You gals are awesome. Thanks for "talking" with me about this stuff!