Monday, October 22, 2007

Confessions of a Half-feminist

Due to my recent vacation and return, I had the pleasure of experiencing two of the "The Women of the Church" lesson, one in Connecticut and one in my home ward in Utah. I found an interesting phenomenon that proves 1) that different environments affect one object differently and 2) I am multiple personality. Allow me to illustrate.

The Connecticut lesson was taught in a relatively small room in a relatively small and brand-new ward building. The attendant Relief Society was diminished in numbers from their usual women. The president had us pull our chairs around into a circle. I felt as comfortable as I could feel chasing a toddler among strangers. Many of the attendant women were single, widowed or divorced. The president taught the lesson gently and beautifully, quoting from the book where applicable. The Spirit was the strongest I have felt at Church in a long time. Several women testified to the beauty of women's God-appointed role. I felt moved to bear testimony of the divinity of women, the divinity of servitude and the Divinity of women's calling to serve and to seem to take a second-place role. It was amazing, despite the toddler (who, blessedly, fell asleep.)

***One week later***

The Utah lesson was taught in a recently-expanded Relief Society room in a fairly large, though somewhat aged Church building. The room was packed with about 80 or 90 women. We sat in the usual rowed seats. I felt as comfortable as I could feel chasing a toddler among somewhat-disapproving mostly-strangers. Many of the attendant women were single, widowed or divorced. The teacher stood in front of the class and read from the lesson manual with a modicum of discussion. There was an uneasy feeling in the room. Several women testified to the appropriateness of women's role. Feeling an increasing unease, I felt moved to testify to the need to teach our sons the same lessons about preparation for marriage and responsibility that our daughters get. I mentioned that the Priesthood rarely get prepared, spiritual lessons (based on reports from my husband and brother.) I mentioned that boys are not taught to prepare themselves to be good husbands and fathers the way girls are taught to be good wives and mothers. I testified that, in the words of the manual, "Every [boy], and I say every [boy], should prepare [him]self for marriage and for domestic responsibilities." I am certain I offended at least two women who took their turns to emphasize that their husbands got the same lessons they got in Relief Society. Despite believing that, as in Connecticut, I was moved by the Spirit to say what I did, I left with a feeling of embarrassment and frustration.

The same lesson. The same me. The same toddler. Two vastly different experiences.

It is funny, because I know I'm labeled by the largest portion of LDS bloggers who have registered my existence as a very conservative person. Sometimes this frustrates me, too, because no one online has any idea of the things I have gone through in relation to the Church and the behavior of her people towards me. No one has any understanding of the years of soul-searching and divinely-oriented pleading I have willingly traveled through to finally reach my current level of faith and acceptance. Only my Father and I know that. For years I have longed to speak personally with someone who knows, despite knowing I will never have that chance. What I wouldn't give for a half hour with one of the Apostles, certain of the Seventy or the First Presidency. What I wouldn't give to speak with them. I wouldn't ask them questions, exactly. I'd only want to hear from a friend of Christ that I'm doing alright and I'd want to hear them speak of Him - as a friend. To testify of Him. Not in a General Conference sort of way, but in a way that is real.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Final Parting?

I have long thought that reading different LDS blogs was a good idea. It has given me perspective, helped me formulate my feelings on topics I'd otherwise not have thought much about, and has helped me find people I could consider true friends. But after watching Conference, I wonder. In addition to the never-before-dealt-with distraction of a toddler, I found myself thinking "Hm, wonder what they'll say about that," and "Oh, they'll not like that one bit," and "I'll bet that comes up in a blog post." These thoughts severely interfered with my ability to listen for the Lord's voice speaking to me. I have always loved Conference. It is the closest I consistently get to hearing people who know speak on the Lord's behalf. I'm a little saddened that this Conference feels wasted to me.

Though I still strongly enjoy writing, is it possible that I'm growing towards a final parting from the realm of LDS blogs? Is it more of a detriment than a help at this point to read others' struggles? Is there any purpose to my continuing?

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