Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pondering Womanhood Part 3

I found this today. It came in the new Gospel Principles Manual (which, by the way, looks like someone collected my lesson plans and printed them--not that I used the same passages they did, but that my lesson plans look EXACTLY like that--questions--that type of questions, no less--followed by supporting quotes just in case I need them with a note or two about teaching methods in the margins.) (I think I'm going to use this new manual for Family Home Evening for the next little while!) in the form of a book mark.

It was written in 2002, and I think I've seen this before and not really tuned in to what it said. It was a "nice sentiment" before. But now, since I've been pondering women, their role in society, and their position in Zion (and in God's eyes), it has WAY more meaning to me. In it's entirety, the Relief Society Declaration:

"We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:

Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

Delight in service and good works.

Love life and learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness.

Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation."

Notable in this is not only what it includes, but what it doesn't include. Nowhere does  it mention clean, nicely-decorated homes. Nowhere does it mention cooking or laundry. Nowhere does it mention making sure your kids are enrolled in tons of enrichment activities (that don't really enrich, just enbusy them). Nowhere does it mention being thin, or having a nice hair cut, or wearing new clothes. Nowhere does it mention exercise, careers, empowerment, diversity, being tan, helping with family finances (I have not forgotten the man who, on finding out I am a full-time, at-home mother, told me, "Well, my wife likes to contribute to our family, so she has kept her job."). Nowhere does it mention crafts, cake decorating, making your family's clothes from scratch, homemade bread, marrying young and refusing birth control, or even being married or having children (you can find nobility in motherhood without bearing children). Nowhere does it mention how often we must go to the temple, how much family history we should be doing. Nowhere does it mention taking cards to your visiting teaching sisters, making handouts for relief society, or showing up on time for church (with your children dressed beautifully and wearing matching shoes or any socks at all!). Nowhere does it mention getting a PhD. Nowhere does it mention having money. Nowhere does it mention producing and canning all your own fruits and vegetables. Nowhere does it mention developing and marketing your talents. Nowhere does it mention politics or political parties (except perhaps where it says we should be strengthening "marriages, families, and homes"--which wasn't a political statement when they wrote this in 2002 but is now). Nowhere is there any hint of being perfect or doing things perfectly, of looking beautiful, of being ideal to the world, of "showing well" or "being smart" or finishing projects or having a nice house or owning a car or having a good job or of being empowered or healthy or not disabled or ANY of the other things that women feel pressure about.

What does that tell me?

When it comes to our place in the world, we women are looking in all the wrong places.

When you examine what the statement DOES include, it is infused with joy, peace, and satisfaction with a successful life. It is bound up in understanding ourselves and our relationship with God and other people, our place in the universe, and what we can do to make ourselves and others happy.

And when you really think about it, isn't "happy" what we're all after?

I've said this before, and I still believe it: the women of the world are under attack, both by oppression and by "empowerment", and both the problems and the proposed solutions are cleverly designed to divert us from the things that really make us happy. The things that God has for us. That he gave us a roadmap to. Which is summarized right here.

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