Thursday, June 26, 2014

What I Need to Say About Faith, Power, and Womanhood

I typically stay out of "media firestorms."

It's simply not where I feel my voice is most effective.

I write often about my faith, and I do my best to strengthen families and help people of all religions to find common ground, but I rarely feel the desire or the responsibility to add my words to a flurry of voices--many of which seem to be arguing simply for the sake of arguing.

But this week, the church I love has been prominently featured in mostly all (if not all) of the top media sources--discussing women and the priesthood--and the headlines have made my heart hurt.

I understand that this is the way media works. They grab onto issues that strike at the core of controversial topics, and they write their stories in a way that will generate the most clicks and the most heated debates.

I also understand that there is a lot of deep emotion involved here--and there are women with serious questions and concerns that need to be discussed and resolved.  I am all for calm, meaningful discussions.

It's just that jumping into the middle of a heated debate, where the focus seems to be more on "getting attention" than "getting to the heart of the issue" has never appealed to me.

But the other day, I read this line in one of the articles: "Most Mormon women stay silent on the issue of equality."

And the more I thought and prayed about this, the more I felt that I needed to say something--not in an attempt to throw myself into the craziness out there, but to leave a record for my daughters and granddaughters who may someday wonder where I stood on this subject. I simply can't risk my silence mistakenly communicating the idea that either (1) I don't care or (2) I wasn't allowed to speak. (Neither of which statements are true.)

Today, I am going to share just a little bit of my story and create a simple record of things I know to be true.

In one of the interviews I read, a woman at the heart of this movement said that she had been raised by a mother who said, "one day women will hold the priesthood."

This struck me to be so different than the way my mother (a lifetime member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) raised me.

I don't know if she and I ever talked specifically about women and the priesthood, but in essence, her words and actions said this:

"Through our faith in Jesus Christ, both women and men currently have the privilege to receive all of the blessings the Father has for us. There is no need to wait for anything. The power is yours. Now. And I'm going to show you how to access it."

And then she did.

She taught me to pray. She taught me to feast on the scriptures. She taught me to listen to promptings from the Spirit, she taught me to serve others and happily do whatever God asked me to do. She showed me how to work side-by-side with my husband and train my children and turn to the right Source for anything I could ever possibly need.

And as she taught me these things, I was an eyewitness to the fruits of that kind of faith.

Angels minister to my mother. Miracles happen. Her influence and light extends across the globe to millions of people, and there is a beauty and peace and unbelievable power that even the most eloquent words will never come close to describing.

I am a grateful, happy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I feel 100% equal to my husband (who loves and honors the priesthood he bears) and to every other priesthood holder I have ever known, and I know that my ability to serve within our church is magnified by the priesthood--not diminished. Not once have I felt slighted or unappreciated because I am a woman. Not once.

I feel empowered, cherished, protected, and blessed--and confident beyond measure that the Lord is aware of each of us and wants His sons and daughters to receive every blessing He has for us.

Our church is a living, growing organization. And yes, if the Lord needs to make changes, they will be directed by those given the stewardship to do so. I trust that.

I feel for those who have obviously not had the same experiences I have had. I in no way mean to diminish their pain or their situations by sharing my opposite view, but in all the areas I have lived--coast to coast--the experiences I have shared above have been the rule--not the exception.

So to my daughters and granddaughters, please know that I have absolute confidence in the way our church is organized. Please remember that you are a cherished child of God, and that your potential to influence and strengthen the world is limitless. And please do everything in your power to carry on the legacy of faith that is your privilege to carry.


I am leaving the comments open on this post, and I am happy to answer any questions those who are reading this might have. I do ask that all comments and questions be written respectfully, in a way that generates helpful discussion.

With love,
April
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