Now I Have The Power

Several days ago I was at a park with my children. There was nothing particularly interesting about this park except for two older boys at one corner play-fighting. I don’t like my children to watch or engage in violent behavior so I tried to keep their attention on the other side of the park. But we kept hearing snippets from their dialogue: ” I have the power.” “Ha ha, I just took your power.” “You can’t take it because I’m invincible.” “I have your power, I have your power.” “No. I have THE POWER.”

My daughter, Sylvia, became more and more distracted by their exchange and before I could stop her, marched over to the two boys. Sylvia stared at them intently and then proclaimed, “Now I have the Power.” She snatched at the air in front of their faces as if, in this one single gesture, all of their power and the power of the universe would be instantly transferred to her. The look on their faces was priceless because, at least momentarily, my three year old daughter had taken the power.

I was stunned but also delighted and so proud that this spirited little girl is my daughter. Sylvia is in that beautiful time before the forces of the world try to convince her she is smaller than she actually is. But along with my pride there was also a twinge of sadness and a jaded feeling of “if only it was that easy.”

But what if it is?

As I’ve reflected on this experience over the past couple of days I’ve come to think that maybe Sylvia is on to something. In her little brain Sylvia knew that these boys would never just come over and bestow power upon her. No, she had to take what she felt was rightfully hers to have.

I wonder if this isn’t analogous to the situation that we Mormon women find ourselves in? The issue of women and the priesthood has been talked to death but one thing is for sure, the male leaders of our church aren’t going to walk over any time soon and bestow the priesthood upon us just because we ask nicely.

But the Power of God is available to us all. We as women have every right to declare, “I have the Power.” To be clear, I am not talking about the institutional power that comes in the form of priesthood. I don’t believe it would do women any good to all of the sudden start to perform living ordinances just because we declare we have the power to do so. But I believe the scriptures are very clear that we are all–man, woman, child–endowed with the ability to access God’s power and utilize it for the good of our sisters and brothers. So many of us sit on the sidelines blaming our inaction on powerlessness and a lack of authority. This is a great lie that has been perpetrated and the fact that so many sisters feel as if they have no right or ability to be a conduit of God’s love and power is to the detriment of us all.

Two years ago I received a blessing. I have been the fortunate recipient of many blessings in my life and while they have all been meaningful, this one was special. I had been suffering for some months from a major depressive episode and was in a very dark place. While I was never in immediate danger, I longed for and sometimes considered a permanent end to my suffering. It was during that time that I left my home to meet with some old friends. I had become adept at hiding just how serious my situation was; nobody in my family or ward knew and even mr. mraynes was unaware of the extent of my depression. Though I had my brave face on these women knew intuitively that I was in trouble.

Towards the end of our time together my dear friend asked if she and the other women could give me a blessing. I stalled at first, not wanting to admit that I needed help and also a little afraid of going down that path, but I was so tired and so desperate that in the end I agreed.

It was like so many of the priesthood blessings I have received from my husband and father; a kitchen chair was pulled into the middle of the room and the women gathered around me except that they placed their hands all over my body. A pair on my head, another on my shoulders, some on my arms and my hands, thighs and feet. The feeling was amazing, warmth and connection emanating from those hands and coursing through my body. And then she spoke. She did not use priesthood parlance but the more informal rhetoric of love, friendship and intimacy. My friend spoke of the things that she loved about me, how she knew I was in pain and blessed me that I would be able to escape it. Then another woman spoke, sharing her thoughts and hopes for me. And another, telling me that God knew me and had a special work for me to do. Each woman in that circle spoke, some blessing me some just expressing love. And I wept, tears of sadness and gratitude. When they were done my body felt alive again. After months of feeling only numb the energy in my body was overwhelming but also exquisite.

This blessing was my life raft. I was drowning and these women used the power of God in every sense of what that means to save me. Within two weeks my depression had lifted and has yet to return. I made it through an unexpected pregnancy and the start of my graduate program without any relapse at all. I was healed. This is nothing short of a miracle and it was all because these wonderful women stood up against every thing they were ever taught about authority and power and rejected it. Instead they saw a sister in need of comfort and said, “I have the power to help her.” My gratitude to these women knows no bounds.

Utilizing the power of God requires faith, confidence and a willingness to serve the children of God. There is no regulating this and exclusively assigning it to one sex. I am reminded of those two little boys in the park, bickering about who has the power and how they can use it. This is a ridiculous exercise that has no meaning unless we give it meaning.  How sad that we as a church have done exactly this. What a tragedy that we are losing out on the unique blessings women can provide if only they were encouraged to fully access the power of God. It’s time to stop waiting for that encouragement, it’s not coming. Now is the time to reach out and grab the power that God has for us. I have a feeling They have just been waiting for us to say, “Now I have the Power.”

Mraynes

Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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31 Responses

  1. What a beautiful experience. I know this is exactly your point, that we shouldn’t wait for permission, but I do so wish that women were still “permitted” to bless each other.

    • mraynes says:

      I do too, Sue. The truth is that unless it’s explicitly permitted the majority of women will never try to access this kind of power. This is a tragedy for all of us. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Rahel Ringger says:

    this is exactly my point too. it’s not like anybody forbid it. so why waiting for permission then.

    • mraynes says:

      Thanks for your comment. I think you ask a good question, Rahel. My personal opinion is that it has a lot to do with the way women are socialized to want approval and the inordinate amount of attention we place on proper authority in the church. I believe that this combination serves to undercut our confidence.

  3. Alisa says:

    I think you’re absolutely right. Although I do not want to take the power from the boys and men who have it, right now it is thier privilege to be a male-only Priesthood, and they are unlikely to ever give up this exclusive privilege on their own. There are enormous blessings that come from being the one to put yourself in Christ’s place and bless with the laying on of hands. Female or male, we all take on Christ’s name to do his works, and we are blessed when we do it. Giving blessings is a privelege just as much as receiving them is.

    LDS women in the 19th century often did this with full support of the bretheren. I think of midwives and other women who bless with their hands. I have experienced amazing power from women. I know it’s there, and I believe God calls on us to use it. When we use our fear to stop us from obeying the Spirit’s promptings to physically bless others, we split, we become two people, we create unnecessary struggle within ourselves. We submit to the adversary who would tell us that we are not powerful, that only 1/2 of God’s children are inherently worthy to bear Their power. This isn’t true, and I believe that the restoration of Christ’s gospel is the perfect place for women to commune with God and seize the power that come from their divine nature, especially when it comes to blessing others. Many times women need to administer to women, to their husbands, their fathers, their children. I know so many women with the gift of healing. They need to use this gift in the way the Spirit directs.

    Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.” It is time for women to love God more than man, and put their trust there.

    • mraynes says:

      Beautifully said, Alisa! I also have no interest in taking power away from men, like I said in my post to believe that we are even able to do that is ridiculous. I don’t think this has to be an either/or thing; men can keep their priesthood and women should be allowed to develop a priestesshood that allows them to access and use God’s power in a way that is unique to women. I don’t know what that should look like but as disciples of Christ we should be given room to figure it out. We are so much the poorer for women not using their power. And I totally agree with your last line, it’s time for women to trust God more than men.

  4. OmaMel says:

    What a beautiful experience. When my children were small my husband was gone quite often with work and US Army Reserves obligations. I would often see and take opportunities to bless them. I took the power and used it. I don’t know if any of my kids recall those blessings now, but at the time I felt empowered and less alone knowing I could provide that service to them. I am glad for you that you have such perceptive and loving friends.

    • mraynes says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds like it was beautiful and brought a lot of comfort to you. And I’m sure that even if your children don’t remember it they still know of your willingness and ability to call on the powers of heaven when needed. I’d be interested to know if you still do this or have stopped since your husband is home more and why that is? Absolutely no judgment here, though I have been on the receiving end of female-led blessings I have never done one myself.

  5. christer1979 says:

    If you want courage and to feel like you have permission (or at least that women did, at some point), do some research into pioneer women blessing and anointing for healing purposes (for example, blessing women before they went into labor). One book I read in my folklore class at BYU was called “Mormon Healer and Folk Poet: Mary Susannah Fowler’s Life of ‘Unselfish Usefulness'” (you can see a summary here: http://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=7563). Knowing that these practices used to be completely accepted has really opened me up to exploring my role in healing (as promised in my patriarchal blessing, for example). Frankly, I don’t know when this changed, and I don’t think it needed to.

  6. Corktree says:

    Such a beautiful experience, thanks for sharing mraynes! And I’m so glad to hear that it had such a profound and far reaching effect on you for good – “by their fruits ye shall know them”?

    I feel very similarly. We don’t need to wait for men to give us this ability, we already possess it and have access to it in my mind. In fact, I feel that in many of the areas that I am putting my effort into lately, I am showing that I am willing to use that power and own it for the good of others. And it has become fascinating to me that I have only felt this tangibly when I really have been serving – which brings to mind the argument that “priesthood is to be used for service”, which someone recently pointed out in an earlier thread is very often not what we see men in the church doing when they exercise their priesthood. But which also explains why I have only felt the power of God through men (and women) in my life that have truly served me in some way and wanted to be an instrument of God in my life. I think this is the only way to view *having power* without being accused of being power hungry and losing site of what it is that power is for.

    • kmillecam says:

      This reminds of something I have been working on for a while in my personal life. I had a friend say to me once that if I found myself needing validation or approval from someone, that the only true answer was to give it to myself. So I started practicing. It makes a big difference to identify, first of all, that I need someone’s approval. And then to be able to say “I matter” to myself, instead of seeking it out from people who may or may not give it to me, is incredibly empowering. So yeah, I think I get what you’re getting at here Mraynes, lol!

  7. Annie B. says:

    This is a beautiful story, I love it. I also believe women have more power than we give ourselves credit for. Lately, more than anything else I’ve simply felt as though I need to be vocal and honest about the things I’m struggling with, and I’ve found there is so much power in that.

    I don’t believe asserting ourselves on these matters means we are power-hungry, or disrespectful, or less feminine. I see true power like the power of the sun vs. the power of the wind acting on a person wearing a coat. Instead of trying to blow the coat off the person like the wind, we shine brighter and warm the person until they realize they are too hot and must remove it.

  8. Hopeful says:

    Thank you for sharing. I wish I was braver in following the Spirit in the manner that your friends did.

  9. Deborah says:

    So, beautiful.

    I’ve come to believe that, performed properly, priesthood blessings channel God’s love. And I don’t think it diminishes priesthood operations to believe that God provides *many* tangible ways for his children to access this healing energy.

    During my darkest hour, I turned to a Franciscan Nun who provided me with Reiki treatments (a form of hands-on healing); it remains one of the most sacred experiences of my life, as if her hands were a conduit for Jesus’ healing power, and my depleted body and soul lapped it up. These were healing blessings, and Sister Antonia’s gentle boldness in calling upon this restorative power inspired me. It’s a short life, one where we are constantly in the presence of wounded souls. It feels selfish *not* to do what we can to bless others.

  10. Jessawhy says:

    MRaynes,
    I love this post. It brought me to tears as I read it on my phone while waiting at the pediatrician’s office with my 9 year old son. He asked me, “Are you sad?” I explained to him about how you had a blessing that helped heal you and it was powerful for me as well. I think he understood and I loved knowing that I was creating a perspective for him where women do bless and heal each other.

    I’m glad to call you friend and love that you were able to find strength from this blessing and emerge from your heavy depression.

    Much love, Jess

  11. jen says:

    Wow. What wonderful friends and what a beautiful experience. I have long believed the power in the priesthood is actually just a power of love, touch, and prayer. ALL of us have the power to bless those around us.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  12. Ziff says:

    Wow, mraynes! Thanks for sharing this! What a great experience, and what great friends you have!

  13. Andrea says:

    Beautiful and heart warming. We’ve been missing out on something.

  14. Aroraluna says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience. I love example your daughter set and strength, love,and fearlessness your friends displayed to come together and do what is rightfully theirs to do on your behalf. We don’t realize that simply by asking, God, Angels, and our closest friends, we can call down the healing powers of light and love and truth to heal and bless all our trials whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual. I work part time as a lightowrker and healer. I have been taught that quite contrary to the patriarchal order of things, all things shall and can be given for the highest good. That love, compassion and intention open our hearts and intellects to what God has for us at any given time, and that we can as women or individuals can call on the powers of heaven and ask them to bless us and help us. I have received preisthood blessings that were a saving and healing experience for me but equally and just as powerfully I personally have been blessed by non priesthood holders richly and profoundly enough to understand that perhaps the most important things about having the power to heal and bless is believing that you have it in the first place and knowing that God wants all his children to possess the knowledge that He did intend for us each, male or female, priesthood or not, to have the power to call upon and use when those around us are most in need.

  15. CatherineWO says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. This is something which has been on my mind recently as well. I have come to believe that the power is out there (I have seen it at work to often to deny it), and we each have the capability of tapping into it and using it to bless others and ourselves. The priesthood is one way of doing that but not the only way.

  16. Stephen M (Ethesis) says:

    When I read the laundry list in Hebrews of what women can do by faith I keep looking for more stories like this one.

  17. nat kelly says:

    Wow, mraynes, this gave me goosebumps. What an incredible experience.

  18. Rixa says:

    This was so lovely. I agree that we shouldn’t be afraid to offer or receive these kinds of blessings. In a way, my last two Motherblessings (Blessingways) were an extension of the earlier blessing ceremonies that LDS women used to hold. Mine were more casual and included more joking around than the original ones did (we still have an ongoing joke about vagina art), but the effect for me was the same. There is absolutely no reason not to bless or pray for our friends or our children. Sure, we won’t use some of the priesthood wording, but a person of any gender can pray over or bless another. Now I just wish I had a circle of fearless LDS female friends who’d feel comfortable doing this!

    • SPE says:

      I too wish I had some female friends who would be willing to participate in something like this. When I read your story, it felt like something I had been loosened–like I finally understood that I DO have my own conduit to the power of God. Thank you for this.

  19. Liz says:

    mraynes, this is beautiful. thank you for sharing and for giving me hope in women’s power to heal one another.

  20. Reese Dixon says:

    I missed this when it was first posted, I’m so glad Deborah shared it on Facebook. It brought me to tears too. I think of that night often, and now having a fuller understanding of what you were going through it makes the experience even more profound, and definitely sheds new light on what I felt. I’m so glad I could be there for this.

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