Believe it or not, I am a faithful Latter-day Saint. Usually, faithful Latter-day Saint women don't talk about what I'm going to talk about, but it's been on my mind a lot lately. I am also a single mother with no real prospects of becoming anything else, which is a confusing thing to be in the Church and in the Gospel.
First, my credentials. I attend the temple more or less monthly. I go to Church every week. Until recently (more on that later,) I encouraged my children to attend their activities. I hold a calling which I fulfill every week. I have had multiple opportunities to be offended and leave the Church, but I haven't. I have struggled with different doctrines of the Church and found my way through them all. I am not a scholar, nor an intellectual, but I have a very active curiosity and I gather knowledge the way a raven gathers interesting objects. I don't shy away from difficult circumstances. I have also come to know my Savior through experiencing my own weaknesses and the weaknesses of others. I have fought hard to learn forgiveness both of myself and others, to learn charity and patience. I have had some success in finding all three, but have a long way to go.
Recently, I've had the opportunity to find out more than I ever knew about the workings of the Church. There is nothing shocking or surprising. I have no horror stories. It's all about what you would expect from an organization filled with very imperfect people who mostly wish to serve God in an organization that is entirely dedicated to doing His work on this earth. It is beautiful in its organic messiness.
But with that opportunity has come many chances to hear how people—particularly men— think about the Church, what they understand of it. I have come to realize how very different my experiences as a woman have been in the Church and as a disciple. I have also come to realize that men, for the most part, truly have no idea how the Gospel as presently taught makes female discipleship so very, very different from male discipleship.
Maybe not all women experience it this way. Many have found ways of coping, or working around the challenges. Most just grow—and flourish—where they are planted. Despite my thinking over these things, I fully intend to do the same thing. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. It does. And while I've shelved the frustration of what it means to be a woman in the Church, things that happen with my daughters tend to resurface the old resentment. This is one of the ways I haven't yet learned to forgive. It still hurts too much.