I’ve always taken my gospel study very seriously. Doctrine was to be checked and double checked. The current apostles and prophets are the first authority, then the scriptures as interpreted by them, then the past prophets, then finally the past apostles and leading church leaders. Anything departing from that channel of authority was suspect. Honestly, I have never studied a woman’s writings for church doctrine. Never.
So naturally, it was with some hesitation that I tapped the podcast on my iphone titled “Leading Saints” which is not officially endorsed by the church. More, the woman being interviewed in the podcast was talking about women, the priesthood, and church leadership. As I glanced through her biography, I was impressed. Barbara Morgan Gardner had been institute director in Boston over many schools including MIT and Harvard. She still works in the CES. She is no apostate, and yet the things she had to say were very uncomfortable to me. Thing is, uncomfortable is kind of my new normal these days.
I’ve been studying about femininity in Carl Jung’s book, “The Aspects of the Feminine.” My brain has been really attacking all of my assumptions about women and our place in the world and in the church. For so long I have looked to my priesthood church leadership to fix me. I’m the broken woman that needs a blessing! I need to become like the saccharine sisters that used to speak in general conference in an annoying baby voice! Now that I’ve gone outside the church for help, I’ve taken that responsibility onto myself and I’m realizing that maybe I had it backwards all along. Maybe they were never supposed to fix me. Maybe I was supposed to fix them.
Of course, I have all kinds of fears crop up at this thought. “You are trying to steady the ark! This is clear and present apostasy!” I’m telling my fear to stand down. It’s not apostasy to speak and think and pray and learn and teach. That’s actually what God expects his disciples to do. It’s not wrong to expect that God might effect change in a different and less top down, hierarchical way; that he expects me to use the spiritual and intellectual tools at my disposal to help my church community.
So I listened to the podcast. It was empowering to me. It made me feel like maybe I can have a voice and an impact in God’s church. It made me feel like maybe the person I’m becoming could actually fit and contribute meaningfully.
I went to church yesterday. I didn’t go to sacrament meeting. I sat in the car and did mind maps about gossip and authenticity. My inner critic has been raking my mind about my blog. It has been saying, “Your blog is just gossip! You talk bad about your church and your leaders and you hurt people!” So I decided to put my mind to work and shut those arguments down. Then I snuck into the building and I taught my primary class. I love my kids and I love teaching. It was a good lesson.
It went so well, I decided to sneak down the hall to the chapel and go to choir. My old relief society president is the new choir director. In supporting her in choir, I’ve been trying to mend some bridges. I think she appreciates it. When you’re directing, its nice to have someone who can read music and sing well in ward choir whether you like her or not!
As it turned out, she wasn’t directing yesterday. The woman who was sings with me in DMCO and she gave me a ride to stake choir last night. So I actually spent quite a bit of time at church yesterday. It felt good to do things I am good at like teaching and singing.
As my mind chews over the podcast and Carl Jung’s book and what I want to do with myself and my church, I have a lot of decisions to make. I’m not going to rush them. I hope the spirit will guide me as I try to make a place for myself in the world; a place I can live authentically and contribute meaningfully.