Several weeks ago my 3 year old daughter gave a talk in Primary. I wrote about the experience on my personal blog, first fig, but I thought I would also post it here and expand upon it a little.
My daughter, Sylvia, was assigned to speak on how she can choose the right by living gospel principles. Sylvia wanted to talk about listening to Jesus and because I want to increase the stories of women told in Primary I decided that we would base her talk around the Mary and Martha story.
Here is the text of her talk:
I can choose the right by living gospel principles. One important gospel principle is listening to Jesus.
A long time ago when Jesus was still alive, there was a woman named Mary who was a disciple of Christ. Mary loved Jesus very much and wanted to learn as much as she could from him. One day Jesus was visiting Mary’s house and Mary was trying to learn more about the gospel. Mary’s sister, Martha, got mad at her because Mary was not helping with the house work.
Doing our chores is very important–it helps our families–but it is even more important to listen and be like Jesus. Jesus told Martha that Mary was choosing the right by listening to him.
I want to be like Mary and always choose the right by listening to Jesus. If I listen to Jesus I can learn how to love everybody, live gospel principles and get back to my Heavenly Parents one day.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
When we finished practicing the talk, Sylvia turned to me and said, “Oh Mommy, I love this talk! Mary is a girl just like me. I want to be just like Mary!”
Sylvie has never expressed an interest or connection to any other scripture story she has heard. No surprise, almost all of those stories are about men. But this story, a story about a woman and a disciple of Christ, has captured her imagination. Sylvia and I often talk about Mary. Most precious to me is every night for the last month she has prayed to Heavenly Father and told Him how much she loves Mary and Heavenly Mother.
I have written many times over the last four years, starting before Sylvie was even born, on just how painful it can be to raise a girl in this church. That pain never goes away and I suspect it will become more acute as my daughter gets older. But mine is not the only pain, nor the most important. Sylvia sees almost no examples of women in the scriptures. She is taught stories about men told from a male perspective. Her female body has been disappeared by correlated church material. And two weeks ago she asked me why there were no girls sitting on the stand next to her daddy and the bishop.
Sylvia is a typical 3 year old who will whine and cry at the drop of a hat but her worst tantrums are reserved for Sunday mornings where she tells me she hates Primary and never wants to go to church again. This is in contrast to the little girl who constantly asks me to tell her stories about Mary, Eve and Heavenly Mother. I worry that already Sylvia has looked around, noted the absence of women and determined that there is no place for her in the Mormon church.
Women’s invisibility in scripture, bureaucracy and leadership matters. Even to 3 year olds.