Thursday, October 21, 2010
Ask Lola: Women and the Priesthood...or the lack thereof.
This was kind of a scary question for me. It pulls away from any sort of "logical" argument I could make and forces me to rely solely on what I've felt... and quite sacredly so.
Let me start by directly answering your question.
YES. This is normal. Furthermore, you are completely entitled to these feelings because, well, you are FEELING them, and regardless of why you are feeling them, they should be honored simply because they are there. Period.
They probably aren't having you set goals or working on anything because, well, you are already doing great. ;)
Now, by way of sharing my own personal experiences of being a woman in the LDS church, let me say this: I don't think you'll ever meet a bigger feminist than me. Annie Oakley's "Anything you can do, I can do better" song doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to my (humble...ha ha) opinions regarding my abilities vs. the abilities of all men on the planet of earth. (Scary, I know.)
But when it comes to the Priesthood, I have been blessed to receive a personal testimony that my role as a woman in this church is incredibly sacred, honored, and special. There is no station in the church that is revered more than that of "mother." And we get to be mothers. (A position I would take over having/receiving the priesthood any day of the week.) And I am also grateful to have a husband whose priesthood blesses our lives on a daily basis.
I was sort of at a loss when I tried to answer your question at first. I tried to think of logical arguments or ways of helping you see how important YOUR role is, but nothing really felt right. I went to bed that night with a prayer in my heart that Heavenly Father would show me how to convey what I feel deeply, but am struggling to express.
The next morning, a dear friend of mine published a blog where she had interviewed a photographer she admired:
"Tell me about the moment you knew you were not going to ever be able to go through life without shooting." Was one of her questions.
This was the photographer's response: "My neighbor was expecting a baby that had been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder and the baby was not expected to live long after birth. They asked me to be at the hospital with them after his birth and take pictures of his short life. That experience changed me as a photographer and as a human being. At baby Paul’s funeral, the pastor spoke about Paul’s short life affecting the lives of many, and I remember being overwhelmed with the realization that it had forever changed mine."
She then directed readers to this link. (Go ahead, go there. We'll chat afterward.)
This was a huge answer to my prayer for guidance.
Because it reminded me of why my role (and yours) is so important in the church.
A few years ago, I was called to be the second counselor in my ward's Relief Society Presidency. Now, being that I am EXTREMELY social in nature, this was a dream calling for me. I loved visiting new sisters every Wednesday. I loved weekly meetings. I loved planning enrichment activities, and parties, and socials. One day, very early on in my new calling, my dear friend who was 1st counselor in the RS presidency called and said that we were going to visit a sister in our ward (who I had only spoken to a few times) in the hospital. This made me nervous.
You see, she was pregnant with a little girl, and that little girl had been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Trisome 18. IF they were lucky enough to have their daughter born alive, they would only have minutes and maybe hours to spend with their precious little one before she passed out of this life. It was heartbreaking.
I was nervous about visiting her because I didn't have any words. (Pretty much a first for me.) I didn't feel AT ALL equal to the task of providing this wonderful mother with the support and encouragement she needed at this time. I had no idea what I was doing.
When we got to her hospital room and settled in, we just talked. It was effortless. I was surprised to find that this sister was smiling and sweet even though she was facing the labor and delivery of a child that she would not have the privilege of raising in this lifetime. We visited WAY longer than I ever thought we would. We talked about normal, everyday things, and we even had a few good laughs. I realized very quickly that I adored this unbelievably awesome girl. Our conversation eventually shifted to the baby. The young mother explained how things were going to proceed the next day. (Induction, delivery, a medical team working like mad to get her little girl hooked up to as many life preserving machines as possible, followed by giving her a name and a blessing right there in the hospital room, and then enjoying the very limited time they had with her.) I was in awe of her strength. I couldn't believe that she could even talk in coherent sentences. Sure, she's had some time to let the diagnosis sink in and to "prepare" herself, but can you really ever prepare for something like this? (Answer: no.)
Sitting in that hospital room, and visiting, and laughing, and crying with my new friend as her little girl's heartbeat beeped rhythmically on the monitor in the background was one of the most sacred experiences of my life.
Another was when I attended the funeral.
Another was when we were privileged to provide food for the family after the funeral services.
Another was when I realized that I had become friends with an incredible person whose friendship I still cherish to this day.
My point is, we are sisters. We are sensitive, and intuitive, and smart. We know innately how to lift the hands that hang down and bring joy to a heart filled with sorrow. Plus, we can "mourn with those who mourn" like nobody's business. Case in point, I have spent the last 20 minutes bawling in my bed for the loss of the sweet family in that video. I also cried myself to sleep the night that the little Idaho girl who drowned in the canal passed away. I've never met either of those families, nor can I fully comprehend their loss, but somehow, their pain is my pain. This is no small thing.
In closing, (so much for my "few short paragraphs" huh?) I just want to say. I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU! Getting involved in the church after 10 years of inactivity is also NO SMALL THING and I applaud you for it. Mostly, I am excited for the Relief Society as a whole. It will be one person stronger, one person better for having you in it. Thank you for being so honest! It's refreshing and pretty much just completely awesome.
As I said at the beginning, an understanding of your value in the church cannot be explained, it has to be felt. And you will have PLENTY of opportunities to feel it in the future (I'm sure). But for right now, if you still have any doubt, I would highly recommend that you ask for yourself. Your Heavenly Father loves you with a love that is beyond comprehension. Your worth is infinite in his sight and there is not a hair on your head that He has not accounted for, and He will tell you so, if you let Him.