And I’m a Mormon

This week a film crew flew out from Salt Lake City and spent two days filming me for a feature in the I’m a Mormon campaign. It was a tremendous honor, a ton of fun, and completely exhausting. It required me to get spiritually naked and to speak from a place of vulnerability which made me feel both apprehensive and alive. Here are some of the takeaways I’ve had from this experience.

  1. It’s okay to talk about our trials. 
  2. It’s okay to own our trials. 
  3. Every experience is a learning experience. 
  4. Look forward instead of back. 
  5. I love being in front of the camera. 
  6. This is the first time, not the last time I’ll have the speak my truth. 
I can’t wait to see the finished product. 

History Made: Mormon Women Can Now Serve Missions at Age 19

As a Mormon feminist, I have recently been struggling in my quest to see women that are influential and important in the church. As I prepared for General Conference this weekend, a bi-annual meeting where the leadership of the church speak, the prayer in my heart was that I would see examples of women given authority in the church. Prayer answered.

Yesterday in General Conference, the prophet of the church, President Thomas S. Monson, announced that the age for young women to qualify to serve as missionaries would change from 21 to 19 (official press release here). By doing so, the church openly acknowledged the important role that women play in the building of Zion which was cause for celebration for women worldwide! There was a woman who tweeted me saying:

There are some remarkable changes we can look forward to from this marvelous change.

  • Young women can begin temple preparation independently of preparing for marriage. 
  • This will create opportunities for young women in the church to cultivate greater strength and deeper testimonies which will improve the church’s retention rate and pave the way for their future and that of their families. 
  • Serving a mission no longer needs to be in opposition with getting married or starting a career. You can do it all if you want to. 
  • More young women will be able to attend the temple sooner which will help strengthen home and families. 
  • This will change what is taught and how they are taught in Young Women. 
  • We will lose less girls to inactivity in the challenging transition from Young Women to Relief Society. 
  • We will have a generation of young women in the church who recognize that they are important to the building of Zion. 
When my sister was 21, she was trying to decide whether or not she would serve a mission. This was right around the time that Prop 8 went down and she went inactive. How things would have been different for her if she’d been able to serve a mission at 19. 
While this won’t change the past, it will certainly influence the future. My little sister posted on Facebook this weekend that she could be on a mission in 9 months!
Change is coming. I can feel it in my bones.

Visiting Teaching Wisdom on Gender Inequality in the Church

I have the best Visiting Teachers ever. As a Mormon woman, I am assigned Visiting Teachers who come by once a month to provide friendship, support, and fellowship. Did I mention they are a-mazing?

When they asked me the obligatory question, “Is there anything we can do for you?” I brought up my concerns with gender inequality in the church. While they grew up in different eras and have never had this same trial about gender inequality, nonetheless, my Visiting Teachers had some wonderful advice to share:

  • Women are the mothers of men and the leaders of women and children. We have a very influential role. 
  • Everyone has hurts. Do I have hurts and needs and validations that I’m not getting met that fuels my concerns about inequality in the church? 
  • Be careful what you focus on because Satan knows how to cause riffs in your faith. 
  • Anytime you hear a strange teaching in the church that rubs you the wrong way, look into it — pray, research, and get to the bottom of it. 
  • Keep the lines of communication open — reach out. Don’t suffer in silence. 

A Jewish Prayer and Making Faith Work

Tonight I read an article on Ask Mormon Girl about a couple who are having the same types of challenges with sexism in the church. His wife will cry and yearn for her Heavenly Mother.

Joanna Brooks shared a beautiful Jewish prayer called the Hashkivenu from the High Holy Days Reconstructionist Prayer Book:

“Help us to lie down, Dear One, our God, in peace, and let us rise again, our sovereign, to life.  Spread over us the shelter of your peace. Decree for us a worthy daily lot, and redeem us for the sake of your great name, and enfold us in the wings of your protection, for you are our redeeming guardian.  Truly, a sovereign, gracious, and compassionate God are you.  Guard our going forth each day for life and peace, now and always.  Spread over us the shelter of your peace.  Blessed are you, Compassionate One, who spreads your canopy of peace over all your people Israel and over Jerusalem.” (emphasis added)

She asked that this canopy of peace be felt in their home during this trial. The thing she shared that really jumped out at me is that a prominent feminist writer, Carol Lynn Pearson, talked about how she stays in the church — and it’s because she chooses not to believe things that offend her. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Can that be so wrong? Because if this type of survival tactic keeps me active, it’s fine by me. And I think God would prefer me to be active that not at all.

Joanna Brooks also said that she refuses to think of God as a jerk. I want to know God as a loving, open arms, non-judgmental, accepting, “let’s make this work” God who sees the good we do and accepts it as enough. That He is kind and compassionate and loving and funny and a staunch supporter of gender equality.

That’s what I want in a God. Tell me that’s you, God.

Early is Better Than Late

Recently I began working at a new job where I work in close proximity with several other women. PMS came up in conversation on Friday and one girl said, “I’m about to finish [my cycle],” and another one replied, “I’m about to start today.” Two days later and I’ve begun as well. Like you, I’ve heard those stories about womens’ cycles regulating and getting on the same track, but this may be the first time it’s happened to me. Which makes me wonder what it is that creates this unspoken alignment. And think how awful it would be to be the polygamist man whose wives are all PMS-ing at the same time. (Karma?)

If you’re a woman who’s ever been late on her period, it is its own kind of stress. As of today, I am two weeks early. It’s quite likely that the stress of a new job and new schedule factors in as well to this change of schedule.

One thing is for sure. In the case of monthly blood, early is better than late. But next month, I’d prefer to not have it twice in one month, please and thank you.