Relativity: The Power of Shared Experience
As I was wandering around the bloggernacle this past week, I was rather disgruntled to find comments that were rudely dismissive and contemptuous of others’ personal experience and belief. It made me irritated, then sad. And then I read Deborah’s Love Bug post, and remembered the reasons why I am invested in female blogs. (Not that there haven’t been numerous other posts on this and other female LDS blogs that I have found particularly inspiring, but this one is the most recent). I think that the shared experience of women can be a powerful way to inspire and encourage.
One of my favorite times of the day is debriefing with my roommate Perky. When I worked nights, I would get home in the morning just as she was getting ready to go to work. As she did her hair and makeup, I’d sit in the comfortably darkened hallway, and we’d catch each other up on recent happenings: frustrations, triumphs, lessons learned, boy-issues, social plans, whatever. We were sharing our stories. And in the process, we would find ways in which we were vastly similar, or learn different ways of approaching or coping with issues. Such a mundane thing, but a comforting way to start and end our days.
On a larger scale, I believe that LDS female blogs are a wonderful way to hear stories from other women who are or have worked through issues that deeply affect me. Your stories show me ways I have been, am now, or can be. I like how personal stories, unlike pronouncements, do not invite criticism from others, merely an invitation to contemplate. I love how yours stories inspire me to more closely examine my own stories, thoughts and desires, and encourage me to share and explore. I feel that this type of communication, shared personal story, while not exclusive to women, is an important facet in the development of female interpersonal relationships.
One of the most powerful icons of personal story I can think of is Chieko Okazaki. Her talks and books are so popular because she tells her own personal stories, and the lessons she learned from them. I think it is much more effective than telling someone else’s stories, then trying to derive teachings from them. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it’s a more circuitous and indirect route. When Sister Okazaki talked about her past experiences with Relief Society as a working woman, I didn’t feel as if she were preaching at me. I felt that she was presenting her lived experience, exploring how it affected her spirituality, and encouraging me to consider my own thoughts on the issue.
On this note, I’d invite you to contemplate the women in your life whose personal stories have positively influenced you. Also, stories in which you have been the role model. I’d also invite you to think about women who may have negatively influenced you, and how you have tried to delete or replace that negativity, or changed said behaviors in yourself. I understand that such stories can be extremely personal, so I’m not expecting a lot of posts. However, I would ask that we not try to discount or dismiss those who feel like sharing.