Guest Post: A Blessing Withheld — A Letter to my Area Authority
Preface: This is a letter I never sent; I have instead chosen to publish it here because I believe it will ultimately do more good to tell the story widely.
Recently, my infant son was given a name and a blessing by his father. My husband, concerned for our child and thoughtful of how to make this moment special for our entire family, requested that I hold our son during the blessing. I consented with a full heart. We requested permission and our bishop agreed that it would be a good way to bless our willful and older-than-typical child; we felt the grace of God in his response. It was minutes (or perhaps hours) before the blessing was scheduled to occur that we received word from our apologetic bishop that this decision, so carefully and prayerfully considered, blessed by the Spirit of God, had been vetoed by you, our area authority.
We have not met, so you cannot know what it had meant to us, to present our child to God jointly (even with me sitting down, as to avoid even the semblance of priestesshood). You cannot know the great reverence with which we regard his birth. The event of his baby blessing ought to have been cause for celebration and joy, but for us it was neither.
It is my hope that, upon reading this, you will better understand the needless pain and offense that the church causes mothers by systematically excluding us from the naming and blessing of our children. I hope you will be our advocate with those in authority to make decisions that affect change.
It feels like the greatest offering of your heart is crushed violently beneath careless feet.
It feels like the widow’s mite that is mocked and rejected.
It feels like all we have been told, about men and women holding the priesthood together, eternally, as a family unit, is a big, fat lie.
It feels like motherhood, the calling of our hearts, which extracts its price dearly in the currency of sleep, heartache, tears, milk, and blood, is regarded as nothing.
It feels like an eternity of separation.
It feels like being betrayed.
It feels like being stoically, silently cloistered.
It feels like being diminished.
It feels like being shamed.
I had heard women before express their sorrow and dismay at similar circumstances, but I was still surprised when it happened to me. That morning, my heart broke, and I am still putting together the pieces. Someday we will have another baby, and I do not expect that we will present that child before the church. What a shame; how lovely it could be!
(photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons (Christening Day) [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons)