Puesto de invitado por / They Don’t Need Us There

Lindsay has joined the Exponent along with AmandaCésar and Denisse as a translator! Her specialty is Spanish and we are thrilled to have her! 

 

Puesto de invitado por Lindsay Wilde Unsworth  / Guest Post by Lindsay Wilde Unsworth

 

Traducción English/Click for English Translation

Lindsay es una maestra de español que está tomando un año sabático para recuperarse de los 13 años anteriores. Tiene una Maestría en la literatura española de la Universidad de Loyola en Chicago, donde se enamoró locamente de Don Quijote y tapas de España. Ha estudiado en Madrid y enseñado inglés en Chile y Corea. A ella le gusta leer, cocinar, viajar, cantar muy fuerte en el carro y burlarse de telebasura. Está casada con un hombre bueno que es un capellán en el Army y tiene una hija genialísima.

 

The GirlA mi hija nunca le ha gustado asistir a la iglesia. No la puedo culpar—siempre energética, tres horas de sentarse y no moverse es, en realidad, una tortura para ella. Así que, la batalla seminal de “La Mamá versus La Niña Obstinada” está por repetirse por mucho tiempo. Me hizo aún más difícil cuando, durante un año, mi esposo fue llamado a ser consejero al obispo y tuve que luchar con la niña yo sola.

 

Lo que sí me sorprendió un domingo fue la razón por la cual mi niña no quiso ir:

 

“¿Para qué vamos? Somos chicas. No nos necesitan allí.”

 

Hice una pausa en mi estrategia normal para reflejar sobre lo que una niña tan joven ya se había intuido al observar cómo funciona La Iglesia. Me dolió el corazón.  Ella entendió que no podía sentarse enfrente en la capilla con su padre. Observó que otras mujeres tampoco se sentaron allí. Quería saber por qué las chicas jóvenes no podían pasar la Santa Cena. Yo no había esperado que su desilusión empezara tan pronto. ¿Cómo le podría contestar?

 

Mi propio conflicto interno no empezó así. Al crecer, mi mamá estaba muy abierta sobre todo que sabía de la Iglesia, de José Smith a Bruce R. McConkie. Recuerdo conversar francamente con ella sobre la Madre Celestial y sobre cómo podía mi mamá resistir sus preguntas y dudas acerca del sacerdocio y la poligamia para seguir fiel a sus creencias. Pero en mi caso, no he podido negar mis dudas. Son parte de mi camino espiritual.

 

Mi crisis de fe empezó durante mi misión. Me sentía extremadamente ansiosa tratando de explicar a desconocidos que mi iglesia era la única verdadera y la manera exclusiva para obtener la salvación.  Conocí a tanta gente contenta en sus vidas y en sus relaciones personales con Dios. Me sentía muy impertinente tratar de convencerlos de que necesitaban creer lo que yo les predicaba. También me desconcertó el tratamiento de los misioneros en puestos de poder en cuanto a las misioneras. Ellos nos reclamarían si usamos demasiado el carro, nos reprenderían so no los dejamos ayudarnos enseñar a nuestros investigadores, o nos coqueteaban invitándonos al templo después de la misión. Me costaba reconciliar lo ideal de la Iglesia y como la experimentaba en realidad.

 

Después, al asistir a mi escuela de posgrado, surgieron más preguntas espirituales de que tenía respuestas. Estudié la literatura española con una énfasis en los estudios femeninos. Así comenzó mi exposición al feminismo. Empecé a sentir que los papeles de género que tanto había escuchado predicar eran agobiantes y que había otras maneras de relacionarme con el mundo. Decidí llevar pantalones a la iglesia simplemente para ver qué pasaría (nada). Al enterarse de todo esto, mi madre se preocupó por mi estado ante Dios. En aquel entonces, también me aproveché del programa del estudio posgrado de mi esposo (en la religión), leyendo otras traducciones de la Biblia, participando en grupos de discusión, y asistiendo a otras iglesias. Me dio cuenta de que me sentía más paz pensando en las preguntas que aceptando las respuestas que siempre me habían enseñado en la Iglesia.  Por medio de las preguntas, podía llegar a mis propias conclusiones y podía tomar decisiones de acuerdo con mi propia fe.

 

A pesar del consejo de no posponer el tener hijos, eso es exactamente lo que hicimos por diez años. Asistimos a escuelas de posgrado, y luego mi esposo fue a Iraq (es un capellán en el Army). A causa de esos eventos, y sabiendo que yo no estaba lista emocionalmente para criar hijos, decidimos enfocarnos en nosotros mismos, preparándonos para el día en el futuro cuando sí estaríamos listos para un bebé.

 

Cuando por fin llegó ese día, mi hija fue rodeada por el feminismo. Venía de mí, mi esposo, nuestros familiares y algunos amigos queridos. Casi todo libro en su estante tiene una protagonista femenina que construye aviones, juega con monstruos, o lucha por los derechos civiles. Aún las princesas son ingeniosas y capaces. A ella le fascinan el Egipcio, los villanos, los monstruos y las princesas. Así que tal vez no es una sorpresa su percepción de las realidades sobre el tratamiento de las mujeres en la Iglesia.

 

Mi meta como feminista es desarrollarme como una persona completa y buscar espacios y oportunidades en el mundo para contribuir lo que pueda. Quiero mejorar el mundo al hacer relaciones con las personas a mi alrededor y ayudar a los que sufren. Eso es lo que quiero para mi hija también. Apenas está descubriendo su voz y su poder, y es sumamente importante que crea en su propio valor. Es verdad que ella no puede pasar la Santa Cena o llegar a servir como obispo, pero la ayudaré a encontrar un lugar importante y visible, ambos en la iglesia y en el mundo.

They Don’t Need Us There

Lindsay is a Spanish teacher currently on a well-deserved personal sabbatical to recover from the previous 13 years of teaching. She has an M.A. Spanish Literature from Loyola University at Chicago, where she fell madly in love with Don Quijote and Spanish tapas. She has studied in Madrid and taught English in Chile and Korea. She loves reading, cooking, traveling, singing really loud in the car and picking apart bad television shows. She is married to a pretty great guy who is an Army chaplain and has an exceptionally cool 5-year-old daughter.

My daughter has never liked going to church. I can’t blame her—always a wiggly kid, The Girlthree hours of sitting and listening is akin to torture. So the normal pre-church battle of Mother versus Five-Year-Old is old hat in our house. A little over a year ago it became especially exciting when my husband was called as a counselor in the bishopric of our ward at that time, so I got to wage that war all by myself.

 

What did come as a surprise one Sunday morning was my daughter’s reasoning for not wanting to attend:

 

“Why do we have to go? We’re girls. They don’t need us there.”

 

I paused from my normal strategies to reflect on what she as a very young girl had already internalized from her observations being at church, and my heart ached. She knew she couldn’t sit on the stand with Daddy. She noticed no other women did, either. She wondered why girls didn’t get to pass the sacrament. I didn’t think the disillusionment would start this early. What could I say?

 

I don’t remember my own internal conflict starting that young. Growing up my mother was very open about everything she knew about the Church, from Joseph Smith to Bruce R. McConkie. I remember her talking frankly about a Mother in Heaven and about having to shelve her questions about priesthood inequalities and polygamy, holding fast to belief. But I can’t shelve my questions—they’re part of my spirituality.

 

My personal faith crisis probably began during my mission. I was painfully anxious about informing strangers that ours was the only true church and the only way to their salvation. I met so many people happy in their lives and their relationships with God. How impertinent I felt telling them that needed what I was offering them!  I was also incredibly uncomfortable with how some of the elders in leadership positions treated sister missionaries.  They would chide us for using too many miles on our cars, chastise us for not letting them proselyte in our area with us to more effectively teach our investigators, or make jokes about meeting us in the temple when our missions were over. It was starting to struggle reconciling what I’d been taught all my life about how the Church works and how I was now experiencing it.

 

The questions kept coming during my grad school years. I studied Spanish Literature with an emphasis in Women’s Studies, so feminism was built-in. I started to feel that gender roles were stifling, and there are other ways to approach the world. I wore pants to church (even before it was a thing!) and I remember my mother’s worry that I was on a slippery slope. The God-sent balance to the shaking of my foundations was my husband’s grad program in Religion. With him I read new versions of the Bible, I attended group studies and new churches, and suddenly I found more comfort in the questions than I did in the pat answers. The questions meant that there was room around them for additional considerations, for new, fresh viewpoints, for different possibilities. They meant that I could make a home for myself in those spaces, that I could come to my own conclusions about what I believed, and that I could make life decisions congruent with my faith and emerging worldview.

 

So, you know the counsel that we’re not supposed to put off kids for money or education? My husband and I totally put off having kids. For 10 years. We were in grad school, then he went to Iraq in the Army, and between those two events and my not feeling emotionally prepared to have a baby right away, we focused on getting ourselves ready instead.

 

When she finally did arrive, my daughter had no chance of not being a feminist. Between my husband, family, some very dear friends and me, she was doomed. Almost every single book in her library features a female protagonist doing things like building airplanes, playing with monsters, or standing up for civil rights. Even the princesses are resourceful and self-reliant. She’s into ancient Egypt, villains, monsters and princesses. So maybe her surprising observation that particular Sunday morning isn’t so surprising after all.

 

My goal as a feminist is to know myself, love myself, and claim space for myself in the world. And from there, to do good wherever I can to help the voiceless, the disenfranchised, and the sufferers. This is also what I want for my daughter, who is just discovering who she is and how to use her voice. No, she can’t be a bishop or pass the sacrament (yet), but I will help her carve out her own needed and important place both in the church and in the world.

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14 Responses

  1. Jess R says:

    Thank you for this post, and thank you for providing translations for The Exponent!

    I am sad that your daughter has already picked up on the exclusion of women in the church. But I am so happy that she has you to teacher her to have a voice!

  2. Carolyn Nielsen says:

    “I found more comfort in the questions than I did in the pat answers. ” Lindsey, you have poured much of my wrestle with the Church into that one sentence. If we never query it is not possible to learn and grow. Questions are not automatically a threat; they are tool of engagement. Thanks so much for your insight.

  3. Emily U says:

    Lindsay, your post resonates with me in many ways. My husband’s career brought me to engage seriously with other churches, too. I have a fiery 5 year old daughter. And I gravitate to the questions like you do. That’s where growth can happen, but that’s where fatigue and frustration happen, too, when the same set of questions remain unanswered.

    Something I read recently in “God’s Echo” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso made me think about my questions differently. Sasso is a rabbi and the book is about Midrash. Her reflections on Midrash about Cain and Able lead to a discussion of evil in the world, of asking God, “Where are You?” Then she writes about how God’s question to Adam and Eve in the Garden teaches us to ask instead, “Where am I?” I’ve spent a lot of time wondering where God is – for instance why hasn’t God done much (any?) course-correcting over the millennia that would have prevented us ending up estranged from God the Mother and up to our eyeballs in patriarchy? My own (partial) answer is that it’s not God’s work to create a perfect church, it’s God’s work to refine each person individually. And that makes the question “Where am I” even more relevant.

    • Lindsay WU says:

      Emily, I love this, and I will definitely be checking out that book. I love that Midrash is about questions and finding God where God might not obviously be. I, too, wish for big things from God. Direct intervention. But it seems I must “midrash” my own life and find the places and spaces where God is that I didn’t expect.

    • Caroline says:

      Love Sandy Sasso! I have her book God’s Paintbrush and In God’s Name. They are two of my favorite kids’ books on spirituality.

  4. Liz says:

    I admit that I’m slightly terrified for the day that my daughter vocalizes that same realization to me – what will I tell her about why I’m still here? I love your thoughts on carving out space, and on how the questions are often more important than the answers. I feel closest to God when I’m wrestling – maybe that’s what I’ll tell her.

    • Lindsay WU says:

      Thanks, Liz! Having a daughter makes me hyperaware of all the challenges she’s going to face, and my heart aches. It’s scary, for sure!

  5. Patty says:

    Great post!!

  6. spunky says:

    Thank yo so much for this powerful post, Lindsay! And thank you for joining in with translations!!

    I too have wondered about what to teach my daughters so they want to be in church. At the moment, we live too rural to be in a branch, so we have church at home. Last Sunday, my youngest daughter wanted to poor the sacrament water into the cups– before it was blessed. My husband asked me if it was okay– I didn’t how how it might not be okay to pour water, so I said, “yes.” But I fear the day when we go to a “normal” branch or ward– where she will be told that the sacrament is only reserved for her taking, rather than for her participation. It scares me and makes me wonder if I can keep my daughters in a church that only see them as secondary. The fight is real. Very real.

  7. Caroline says:

    “Why do we have to go? We’re girls. They don’t need us there.”

    Devastating. So sad that she’s already figured that out. So sad that she had to figure it out at all.

    I’m thrilled you are helping us with translating, Lindsay! And thanks for sharing your thoughts here. So much of it resonates with me.

  1. November 1, 2015

    […] This essay by Deborah was originally posted in English and French here. This Spanish translation is generously supplied by Lindsay Wilde Unsworth. […]

  2. November 28, 2015

    […] Guest post by one of our Spanish translators, Lindsay. […]

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