“I do not know the meaning of all things.”

I am meant to write a poll today; an interesting question that will gauge the opinions and feelings of Exponent II readers today.  But what question can I pose of the many questions being asked today?  What feeling can I draw forth of the many emotions that are flooding our Mormon world today?

Kate Kelly’s disciplinary council will be held tonight and it impacts us all.  Whatever you think and feel about Ordain Women or church leadership or revelation from heaven or the disciplinary process – this impacts us all.

As I think and feel today, I sing songs to myself as a way to bring order and calm.

“He gave me my eyes that I might see …..”

I see my brothers and sisters.  I see hate and love.  I see miracles and troubles.

“He gave me my ears that I might hear …”

I hear comfort and division. I hear scripture and the temple endowment. I hear hymns.

“He gave me my life, my mind, my heart …”

I think of Jesus and Joseph and Thomas.  I think of patterns. I puzzle over the lines these patterns create:  parallel lines, perpendicular lines.

I feel the Holy Ghost. I feel the love of friends and family. I feel pain around me. I feel compassion.

Today, I will not understand.  I will not be able to connect the dots and make a straight line.  All I know to do today is feel.

“For all his creations, of which I’m a part. Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.”

 

And from Nephi, a prophet:

“I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” 1 Nephi 11:17

 

What are you thinking and feeling today?

 

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Reflections on Elder Oaks’ Remarks in the Priesthood Session of General Conference

Suzette Smith serves on the Ordain Women Executive Board and as a spokesperson for OW. Her profile can be read here.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ remarks during this year’s April general conference seem a good indication that LDS members and leaders are talking about priesthood in a more expansive way and seriously considering what it is and how it functions in the lives of men and women. I see this as an encouraging trend, and I am grateful to Elder Oaks, whom I sustain as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, for his willingness to open a dialogue about what we mean, in particular, when we speak about priesthood authority, keys and power.

In his introductory remarks, Elder Oaks quotes from a women’s conference talk given last year by President Linda K. Burton of the General Relief Society Presidency:  “We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood.” I have this same desire. Many of my prayers and conversations, like those of my friends who support Ordain Women, are focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the priesthood. With this in mind, here are a few reflections I have after listening to Elder Oaks’ remarks.

Authority

The priesthood, Elder Oaks asserts, is “the power of God” delegated to us so we “can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family.” While Elder Oaks explains that priesthood keys held by ordained Church leaders govern the use of priesthood authority throughout the Church, including in local wards and branches, he also says that priesthood authority is appropriately exercised by both men and women in their church callings. “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings,” Elder Oaks explains, “but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true,” Elder Oaks further asserts, “when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization” or as a temple worker.  “Women have authority given unto them to do … great … things, sacred unto the Lord, and binding,” Elder Oaks continues.  “Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”

I am very encouraged by Elder Oaks’ insight.  I hope it will open further dialogue about how women see themselves exercising priesthood authority in their callings.  For example, a woman could cite priesthood authority in her ability to receive revelation pertaining to her specific calling.  I hope Elder Oaks’ insight will also expand the conversation about which callings could be extended to women, such as serving as ward clerks or in Sunday School presidencies.

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​Broken Understanding: Ordain Women, Conference and Easter​

​Broken Understanding: Ordain Women, Conference and Easter​
Throughout our lives, we all have experiences that build our faith and enhance our spirit.  In the weeks leading up to Easter, I had several of these spiritual moments.

​First, ​I was asked to teach Temple Preparation to a humble woman in my area; it was​ a ​sacred personal exchange that touched me deeply.  A​lso, I talked with my parents about their final experiences as missionaries as they concluded their mission and found them very mov​ing​.  Additionally, I listened to General Conference, which is always a high point for me spiritually.  I love feasting on the inspired words of the prophet, the apostles, and the other male and female leaders of the church.  ​Coinciding with Conference, I had the privilege of walking with Ordain Women to the standby line at the Priesthood Session; praying, laughing, crying and being surrounded by these devoted and faithful women was inspiring to me.

Lastly,​ upon arriving home from Salt Lake City, I was asked to give the concluding remarks in my ward’s Easter Program.  In preparation for my talk, I prayed​ and thought deeply about my Savior and His Atonement and felt personally blessed in my preparation​. All of the leading experiences​ shaped my Easter remarks, particularly my experience with Ordain Women.  The OW action pulled out a variety of view points and a lot of vitriol.​ I​t made me think of how we all see things “differently” and how we each have only a​ piece of truth. This idea of broken understanding led me to think of the broken bread and the broken Christ – and ultimately about redemption.

Easter Remarks

As I have thought of Easter for the past 40 days and during this Holy Week, my mind has rest on one scripture … in Mark Chapter 14.

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.  (Mark 14:22)

We continue this tradition of blessing and brEaking bread each week during this very Sacrament Meeting – it is a symbol of Christ.

Jesus knew His body would be broken.  He knew a terrible thing would happen – a brutal assassination.  It is an intolerable thing.  And the miracle of Easter is that God took this intolerable thing, and made it a blessing: the greatest blessing of all.

And because God created blessing out of that which was broken, we can have hope that He will do the same for us.  He can take our unmet expectations, our shameful sins, our unspoken hurts – and bring blessing to these intolerable situations.

 He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5)

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Walking with Ordain Women … and the Church

Suzette Smith 2013I read the letter from the Church’s PR Department early this morning. It asks me to “reconsider”, so that is what I’ve done all day – reconsidered. I’ve thought and prayed and pondered.

I’ll be walking with the sisters of Ordain Women on April 5th; not because I want to pit myself against the church, but because I am part of the church – with divine nature and individual worth. The letter called me “extreme” and that made me feel that “I don’t belong”. But I do belong. I go to church every Sunday and the temple every month. I love the gospel. I teach it in my ward. I love worshiping with the Saints. I love the Lord. I am a believer.

I take my faith seriously and I take the question of women and ordination seriously. The church’s letter seemed to say that because I’m in the minority they don’t take me seriously. My concerns felt dismissed by the letter – and yet they are of eternal importance. I’m talking about WOMEN – half of God’s Children. I’m asking hard questions about Daughters and those questions matter. I believe the church is true – and that makes it a living, growing, changing church. (See Article of Faith 9) I am a truth seeker and I love the LDS faith because it is a truth seeking religion.

I’m walking with Ordain Women because I want to attend the meeting of the General Conference of my church (of Latter-day Saints – that’s me) – I want to be seen as a seeker. In the early days of the church, the Saints went to the Red Brick Store to discuss with the Prophet Joseph, who counseled with the Lord. This is the closest thing to a Red Brick Store I know of in 2014 – the door where I know the prophet is.

I do not wish to make enemies by disregarding the request to stay away from temple square but I do not think my walk will be disruptive to the spirit of light and knowledge. I can not stand in the free speech zone and align myself with anti-Mormons because I am not one of them. I am a Mormon.

(I’m also going the General Woman’s Meeting – with just as much passion – and I’ll be wearing my purple dress.)

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I’ll be Wearing Purple

The Purple Dress

Ordain Women supporters (including me) will be wearing purple as we join other Mormon women in attending the General Women’s Meeting on Saturday, March 29, in the Conference Center and other buildings around the world. By wearing purple, we want to show that we both love and support the church in its recent initiatives to make women more visible within our faith community and hope for a continued discussion about gender equality, including women’s ordination.

Last year, the church announced that the General Women’s Meeting, previously held once each year a week prior to the church’s semi-annual General Conference in the fall, will now also be held a week before the spring conference. In addition to providing another opportunity each year for women to hear from their female leaders, the church has also made other changes to give women more voice and visibility, including an emphasis on collaborative, gender-inclusive councils, greater encouragement for women to serve missions, and the opportunity for women to both pray and speak in General Conference.

Ordain Women supporters are active, engaged members of the church and we appreciate these initiatives. We pray leaders will continue to respond thoughtfully and positively to all those who share their belief in the possibility of a more equitable religious community.

Will you join me – and wear purple too?

 

 

 

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