Guest Post: Mourning the Pronouns

by Kara

Everyone always says the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference is the best, but my heart was sinking into my overflow chair. We couldn’t find a babysitter for our three young boys so I had come alone, hoping for a spiritual infusion, but the words felt platitudinal and weren’t satisfying my need.

My need sprang from what Sue Monk Kidd calls the feminine wound, that pain of feminine inferiority in our society. My symptoms had begun to surface only three years prior as a dull, aching sense of discrepancy when I found myself desiring professional involvement after years of yearning for the position of stay-at-home mother. A fundamental tenant of my happy childhood dictated that good mothers stayed home. I knew myself to be a good mother to my toddler and infant sons. So why the surprising pull back to the professional world? The conflict led me to reject that portion of my beliefs, leaving confusion in its place.

Slowly, the ache expanded past the singular discrepancy to encompass other inequalities and the much harsher grievances of women beyond myself. Now it is a pain that will not be ignored. For 35 years, I felt no noticeable discomfort, but now I feel like Mother Eve– I’ve eaten the fruit and my eyes have been opened. I can’t unknow what I now see clearly, and I wouldn’t want to, though it has greatly multiplied my sorrow.

Although the ground is still shifting beneath me, I feel anchored to my faith and so I had come seeking to this Saturday session with its promise of spiritual sustenance. A word from the speaker sent me to a beloved verse of scripture which had held a milestone answer for a younger version of myself. I read the words hopeful my answer could be reanimated, repurposed to fill the need I now felt. Instead, I found the words of refuge had sprouted thorns and thistles. I was pricked instead of soothed as I read, “father, he, he, he, son, son, him, he, men, he, all men, him and he is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”

My bruised heart reached out in prayer to a Father I still trust, but now seems less accessible– limited by the imperfect bridge constructed by men to connect man to Him (but not me to the invisible Her). I felt love mingle with my sorrow and wrote down the thought that came,

“It’s okay to mourn the pronouns.”

The speaker changed and I returned my attention to the pulpit.

He spoke of the restoration and the dormant knowledge that had been returned to earth. “That knowledge was already written in the heart of each of God’s children, but the veil causes us to forget the vital truths that form the gospel foundation.”

As he spoke, I felt the Spirit replace the pronouns.

“The gospel could not be (fully) restored without:

  • A knowledge of the reality of Her,
  • A knowledge of Her attributes,
  • A knowledge that the course I am pursuing is consistent with the will of my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

There was a time we were with our Heavenly parents in our natural environment. It was a perfect environment. We don’t remember it, but the memory of them is still in every heart.

Scripture tells us the promises were planted in the hearts of the children. Do you remember what they promised?

There isn’t anyone who came to earth who doesn’t know Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.” (Here, the speaker spoke both titles and I wept with gratitude.)

“Inside each of our spirits is locked that knowledge and experience of these things.

Your motherboard has not been erased.”

His last words sunk deep and provided the solace and hope I sought. It was a conclusion I had already reached on my own– that we will find Her within ourselves — but the blessing of the Spirit confirming these conclusions during the meeting gave me a confidence I needed. “My motherboard has not been erased.” I will take that phrase and promise with me in my journey to find Her.

“It’s okay to mourn” gives me permission to experience the emotions that result from inequality, without getting hung up in grief and anger. Heavenly Father and Mother are beings of equality who mourn with me. This life (and this church) will never be one of total equality, but I can trust in a “perfect environment” to come. For now, I will work to find Her, the deity Mother who stands with the Father, and share the archived memories I rediscover with other seekers.

Note: This talk was given by Elder Kevin W. Pearson. The words here are my paraphrasing written during the talk and later streamlined for concise clarity. Elder Pearson referred to Heavenly Mother or “Them” three or four times in his remarks, for which I was grateful.

Kara attends stake conference in the Nevada desert. She and her husband dole out snacks and crayons to three squirmy boys. She currently misses having an excuse to escape to the mother’s lounge.

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10 Responses

  1. Dani Addante says:

    I love your post! Thank you.

  2. Angie P says:

    Beautiful!

  3. Caroline says:

    Lovely, lovely post. I too mourn. And I too change the pronouns. When I read verses of scripture in RS or SS, I make the “men” and “man” and “brother” into “men and women” etc. When I sing hymns I substitute “all” or “souls” whenever “men” appears. Sometimes I softly sing Mother instead of Father in a hymn, knowing many people would particularly freak out if they heard that one. It’s an undeniable burden to have to change so many words and pronouns to make them inclusive, but I do it — because the alternative erases my existence. I don’t want to participate in my own erasure.

    • Violadiva says:

      Caroline, that’s the best way to put it — “I don’t want to participate in my own erasure.”

      Just right. I sit the row behind the deacons bench and sing the same way. They crane their heads around when I sing “mother” or “sister”
      But I’m doing for them as well as me!!

      Great post — funny how one or two little letters either indicate a total inclusion or exclusion.

    • Kara says:

      Keep up the pronoun swapping Caroline and Violadiva! I love that you’re doing it for others’ benefit too. There’s power in that and so many don’t notice how thoroughly male the scriptures are until you flip it around and realize how unfamiliar it sounds.

  4. Heather says:

    Kara this is so beautiful. Really honest and inspiring. You are a wonderful writer.

  5. Kaylee says:

    Yes mourn them. The pronouns do matter. During a hard time in my life, Isaiah 40:1 was a scripture that God used to speak to my soul. It meant so much to me that even the pronouns were right! (I mean ‘she’ happens to be a city, and I am not a city. But it felt sooooo good to have the correct pronouns.)

    • Kara says:

      What a beautiful scripture! It does feel more powerful because of the “she”. The House of Israel and Wisdom are also feminine in the scriptures. I’ve been meaning to search those verses for good ones to draw on.

  6. Em says:

    Oh! Reading this and your comments is like walking into a room of strangers and then finding that you all have a common friend. It has weighed on me for a long time that our liturgy, both scripture and hymn is so dominated by male pronouns, so about a year ago I started to change the pronouns to the feminine, singing loudly in my small UK congregation, and when reading scriptures aloud in classes. my children now join in with me, ir switch between the two as they fancy.

    This warms me to know that I’m not alone in my discomfort. Thank you.

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