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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Birth/Rebirth: The Emotional Anatomy of a C-Section

DSC02265My sister-in-law has a wonderful story about the birth of her first child. “I feel complete,” she told me. “My body has now done everything it’s supposed to do.” Every time I’ve heard her tell it, she’s been giddy. She speaks of the wonder of a woman’s body, the physical instincts that take over during labor, the miracle of actually pushing a child into the world.

Three children later, I am still jealous.

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Birth/Rebirth: Birth and Rebirth through Divorce

Guest Post By Erin

From what I remember, (it has been almost 8 years since I pushed another life out of my body) birth is painful, messy, exhausting, and frightening. I can understand why Nicodemus might have been a little incredulous when he was questioning the need to be reborn, i.e. “You want me to do what???” However, there are times in life when a rebirth is absolutely necessary. Not because we weren’t right when we started, but because we have strayed from the person we were meant to be when we began.

Over the course of our marriage, my husband had taught me that I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t do much to please him, no matter how I tried. I logically knew that all the things wrong with our relationship weren’t my fault in total, but in order to maintain peace, I did the apologizing, I accommodated to his needs and wants, I did my best to change my verErin Guest Posty essence in order to please him through fourteen years of marriage. I was committed to my covenants and would have given up more if I could to protect my children from the spectre of divorce.

In September of 2012, my husband told me he couldn’t “do this” anymore and walked out the door leaving behind a well prepared letter of how visitation and child support and division of property and debts would proceed. I was dumbfounded, to say the least. A week before we had been making detailed lists of all the things we should plan to buy for birthdays and Christmases to prepare for a family goal of section hiking the Appalachian Trail over the next 7 years. His leaving came out of nowhere. Thankfully, the Spirit whispered, “Let him go, he knows what he is leaving and he is still making this choice. You will be okay.”

This wasn’t the rebirth, this was the conception what would be the birth of my new life.

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Exponent Classics: Something About Learned Women

Something About Learned Womenby Lucy M. Hewlings,
First published in The Women’s Exponent, vol. 7 no. 17
February 1, 1879

The question has been asked, “Was there ever a time when there were no learned women?” To this query we reply, No! never since the creation of Eve, our first mother, down to the present, when the cause of women’s social and political rights has become a distinct national question; we admit there has been an unusual intellectual activity for the last twenty years, both in Europe and America, and that there has been advancement and progress in this respect within the last decade, but we are apt to felicitate ourselves, and perhaps are too indiscriminate on the progress achieved in female education.

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February 2013 Visiting Teaching Message: Converted unto the Lord

Years ago, when I was dealing with depression that resulted from a move and the associated massive changes in my life, I sought out an LDS counsellor. I had gone to some counselling sessions at LDS Family Services, but the counsellors there were all men, and I felt the absence of female empathy and direction. I wanted an LDS counsellor because much of my angst was church related. In hindsight, I understand that I sought spiritual advice from a woman, but given the patriarchal structure of the church, only could comprehend female, Mormon, inspired, advice could come from a woman who was a professional counsellor. I do not believe this now. Anyway.

 

Prior to this move, I found it easy to meet and make friends, sometimes LDS, sometimes not, so had not shied away from moving to new places and trying new things. But this move was different. I chose to move where my husband was going to school and had family, far from my friends, and very different to any other place I had chosen to live previously. The place, the people, and the situation were different and foreign. In this, I suddenly found myself an outsider in a close-knit community. I sought the companionship of female friends, but found it very difficult to meet people. A deep loneliness set in, resulting in depression. Although previously disinterested in Relief Society and its structured friendships, I chose to embrace Relief Society with the expectation of making new friends, even if they were assigned.

 

It didn’t go well.

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Worthiness

 As part of her New Year’s resolution, a friend of mine is trying to watch a few TED talks a week.  Together we were revisiting Brene Brown’s moving TED talk on vulnerability as a key to emotional connection and I was struck by her use of the word, “worthiness.” (Many, hopefully most, of you have seen this talk, it was given in 2010. If you haven’t seen it, I’d suggest you take 20 min and watch it, especially with someone you love. It’s well worth the time). MRaynes blogged about Dr. Brown’s book here.

In Mormon culture, we hear worthiness so often associated with a checklist of behaviors we may or may not do, according to current church teachings and policies (these have changed widely over the years).  Even things as small as the number of earrings a girls wears, the length of her hem, or if she wears a skirt or pants to church may fall into the worthiness category.  For me, the notion of worthiness sometimes brings with it feelings of guilt of not being perfect. Perhaps this has to do with how worthiness is gauged by someone outside ourselves, often a priesthood leader.  Also, there are so many categories to measure our worthiness, we’re bound to not hit them all, and often feel guilty about our shortcomings.  Additionally, I wonder if it’s also part of a culture of guilt within Mormonism.  Needless to say, worthiness is not a word that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  I’ve never really associated it with connection to others or really even about something I would determine for myself.

That was why I was so surprised that Dr. Brown describes the main difference between two groups of people: those who feel strong connections with others and those who don’t, as an issue of worthiness.

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