Friday, June 13, 2014

Why I Love Being an LDS (Mormon) Woman

I probably don't have anything unique to say about this topic...I know others have stated these things before, but I feel a pressing desire to add my voice and testimony in defense of my faith.

There are many reasons I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But let me focus on a few and specifically as they relate to my womanhood.

Reason 1:  First and foremost, we are taught from a very young age that we are beloved children of God.  In Young Women's (ages 12-18), we recite these words each week:  "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love Him."    We take the words in Romans 8:16 literally, "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."  Knowing who I am gives my life meaning and purpose.  Recognizing that all others I come into contact with are also beloved children of God helps me love them more and treat them with kindness and respect.  (I am certainly not perfect at this, but I try.). I love this quote by C.S. Lewis in Weight of Glory:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. 
 All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
 It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.  There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.
I believe that.  I know that to be true.  And it changes everything.

Reason 2:  So much of who I am and what I am able to do is a direct result of my membership in the church.  From the time we are young, members of the church are asked to give talks and prayers in church.  From age 12 and on, we can hold leadership positions.      
My third year as an elementary school teacher (my chosen profession), my school was beginning intensive reading instruction training and we needed two leaders for the teachers.  I was only 24 and unmarried and pretty inexperienced, but the teachers at my school were asked to name who they thought the leaders should be...and I was chosen.  I attended trainings and then helped train the rest of my faculty.  I taught workshops at huge conferences. I attended meetings at the district office.  (I want to point out that some people are naturally good at these types of things...but while I may have some natural ability, I was a very, very shy child and still tend to be a bit shy...so my experiences in church have really helped me.)   I am certain that growing up giving talks in sacrament meeting, serving as class president, and participating in youth conferences and being a youth camp director for girls camp all helped prepare me for this opportunity.  In my 38 years, I have taught children and young women.  I have served in a Young Women's presidency and a Relief Society presidency.  I currently serve as Relief Society President which means I am responsible for the temporal and spiritual welfare of all the women in my congregation.  I have given countless talks,said numerous prayers, taught classes for many age levels, organized funerals, organized activities, and done countless other things.  And I should mention that I am not unique.  Each man AND woman is given similar responsibilities throughout their life.  There are a few positions given only to men, and some positions given only to women.  But I have always felt that my opinion is valued and that my contribution is important.  My ability to teach children and adults is partly a result of my college education, but it is even more a result of the opportunities I have been given through my church.  And this has been happening in our church since nearly the very beginning, long before the rest of the country gave women the right to vote or allowed women into the work force or other rights.  I urge those who would like to read more about this to read Sheri Dew's wonderful book Women and the Priesthood.

Reason #3:  The gospel of Jesus Christ helps me to be a better wife and mother.  My children have wonderful teachers at church that teach them and love them and are wonderful examples to them.  Our Bishop loves the children, and my children love our Bishop. It is wonderful for my children to have so many role models.  In addition, I am taught about marriage and family in church, in the scriptures, and as I listen to General Conference.   While I love my job, I love my family more than anything else.  I know that my most important responsibility, and the thing that will bring me the greatest joy, is my family. In my job as a teacher, I see daily both the results of loving families that do their best to raise good children as well as children who are neglected and treated poorly.  My job matters, it absolutely does, but it is so difficult for me to make a significant impact on children whose home lives are chaotic and frightening.  Parents and families matter.  I want to be a good parent, but sometimes the world's advice about how to be a good parent is confusing or overwhelming.  The gospel of Jesus Christ helps me focus on what matters most.

Reason #4:  The church encourages us to seek education, to learn, to develop talents, and to contribute to society.  I highly value education, I love reading and learning new things.  I am happy to be part of a church that encourages its members to seek learning both by study and by faith.  Our leaders have taught that we should seek truth from all of its sources...both religious and secular, but to place the highest emphasis on religious truth.

Reason #5:  We believe that revelation continues, that heaven is not closed to us.  We believe there are living prophets that communicate with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We believe that we can also receive personal revelation for ourselves and those we have stewardship over (for example, our families or those we serve in callings.)  I have felt the witness of the Holy Ghost, testifying to me of the truthfulness of the gospel, testifying that there is a living prophet, testifying that I AM a child of God, and answering my prayers on countless ocassions.  Both men and women can study, pray and receive a witness for themselves.  Both men and women can and SHOULD receive personal revelation.

Reason #6:  No blessing is withheld from me as a woman.  I can enter the temple.  I can hold positions of great responsibility.  Most importantly, if I live faithfully, I can be saved and live with my family forever.  I have every blessing that I need or want.  I am so blessed!

There are so many other reasons that I love being a Mormon woman.  It brings me peace of mind.  It has allowed me to develop wonderful relationships with other wonderful and amazing women that I wouldn't know otherwise.  (I want to be very clear as I state this, though, that I have many dear and wonderful friends who are not of my faith.  I love many people who believe differently than me.  I know that some of my dearest friends do not entirely understand my beliefs but I love them and they love me despite our differences.  There are many good people in every faith and many good people who are not religious at all.)  I am part of one of the world's largest and oldest women's organizations.  I know that my church does a lot of good through family history history research as well as humanitarian efforts worldwide.  I could go on and on, but I will end by saying that the very best thing about being an LDS woman is that it makes me happy!