Women and the Power to Heal
Less than two weeks ago, my sister gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl. Although I have three sons of my own, I’ve never witnessed a birth (not even my own!). Tacy was so brave, she labored all night, pushed for two hours, and gave birth completely naturally. Throughout the labor, she was surrounded by mostly women who loved and supporter her. Along with her midwife, our parents, her two friends, and my sister and I helped her work through the difficult process of bringing new life into the world.
The experience was awesome. It brought to my mind all of the beautiful poetry, art, and literature about the miracle of birth. During some of the more painful parts, I tried to spiritually support Tacy by explaining that I know women who believe that birth is the first ordinance that a child receives, one that can only be given by women, not just any woman, but a special woman: mother. I also told her about how baptism is like childbirth, we are born again of blood, water, and the spirit.
All of the women in the room each took turns stroking, supporting, holding, and helping Tacy through her many hours of intense labor. As she pushed for hours, there were six of us at her bedside offering words of love and encouragment. In the end, after it was all over, Tacy remarked how she she needed each of us to help her through bring her baby into the world. I felt blessed to have been part of such a miraculous, spiritual event.
Ten days after this remarkable experience, my sister was in the hospital again with her newborn who had a high fever. While it wasn’t very serious and she is now healthy and home a few days later, I was still worried and wanting to be there to support her.
However, because of family schedules and time constraints, it ended up that my husband went to the hospital in my place with my father to give the baby a blessing.
Obviously, I couldn’t give the blessing because I don’t hold the priesthood. The situation upset me more than I expected. Although my mother was there to help support my sister through this difficult time, I wanted to be there as well to put my arms around her, hold her crying baby, change a diaper, or tell a joke.
But, in the LDS church, we can only play the part that we are assigned. I was not assigned a Y-chromosome, so therefore I was not assigned to hold the priesthood. But, my powers to heal through faith in God should not be confined because of my lack of ordination.
Indeed, I’m not the only one confined by the rules of male-only priesthood. My husband didn’t really have a choice in this situation. My dad asked him to help give the blessing, and he pretty much had to do it. There wasn’t a substitute. Instead of enjoying the evening in the pool with this kids, then reading to them and tucking them in, he was back in the car for another hour, sitting in the waiting room, cramped in a small hospital room, giving a blessing that my sister didn’t request, but allowed because she knew it was important to my dad.
My husband would never complain about these things. He’s happy to serve and really loves my family. I appreciate all of that so much.
But, I really wish that I could have gone to the hospital to give my new niece a blessing, or if not, just be there to support my sister. I know that is where I was supposed to be. What seems most upsetting to me is that we have such a narrow definition of who has God’s power to heal. From my experience, it involves at least two men in suits, a drop of consecrated oil, laying on of hands, some murmured words, and of course, faith.
I’m glad we have this option, but isn’t God’s power to heal bigger than that? Can’t my power as a sister and my faith as a woman also heal? Why don’t women discuss the spiritual gift of healing? Why don’t we heal each other? It seems to me that with church’s patriarchal system, it would have to be encouraged by the Brethren, and I don’t know that it ever has been and ever will be.
But, getting permission from men doesn’t make sense. As women, we should take the power to heal into our hands directly from God. That’s where the gifts come from anyway. It’s not as though we’re competing, right? There’s no competition in serving God.
I don’t see how God will stand in our way when we want to use our hands to heal. The problem is changing the way we look at women and healing.
We need to reclaim our heritage as preistesses and healers.
Our spiritual power is from God and we can and should use it.
Photo: These are my hands, massaging my sister’s neck during her labor. It’s special to me because it reminds me of the power we have as women to support and heal each other.