i leave you with two wonderful things: my first guest post, written by the wonderful tamsen maloy, and a stunning picture of my mother when she was younger. i hope tamsen's unique perspective offers some food for thought for ya'll to chew on 'till i get back.
The Gospel and Young Women: An Interface
by Tamsen Maloy
As the Gospel and spirituality are sensitive issues, I think the first order of business of this post is to state in no uncertain terms that this is not anti-Young Women or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am an active member of the Church. I love it and live it, as the recent profound and meme-popularized talk says. Many women have had great and life-changing experiences in Young Women. The purpose of this post is to explore possible discrepancies between what is taught in the Gospel and what is often taught in Young Women, mostly from my own experience, supplemented by many other women I know, not necessarily from every young woman in the entire world.
When I think back to the Sundays spent in Young Women, the most common thread of lesson is that of choosing the ideal husband. Choosing a husband is a very big decision, and extremely important. It impacts the rest of your life.
The problem I had with the many husband lessons I had in Young Women, was the ratio of those versus anything else of value. Off the top of my head I can recall at least three husband-seeking lessons. Three is not that many, really. But off the top of my head I can recall zero lessons on finance, self-reliance, improving talents, learning and loving who you are. The memory of this is quite frustrating.
I have a friend, one with whom I travelled the gamut of Young Women. I recently asked her about her thoughts on the program, how she felt about herself and marriage, etc. during the program and after. Her response was alarming but illustrated exactly how many Young Women graduates and participants feel.
This friend graduated from high school in the top 1% of her class, one of three of the smartest girls in school. Knowing and watching her in high school I can tell you she was and is brilliant. One of the few women in our era who joined a world largely dominated by men: science. But not only were her grades amazing and her academic smarts intimidating, she understands and propagates subtle and hilarious humor that just makes me giggle to think about. In short: she is all-inclusive brilliant.
And yet, despite the encouraging outlook, for a long time she held a belief that she would never get a Bachelor’s Degree. Her understanding was that after high school, she would soon date and marry a returned missionary, leave school, and start having babies. She thought that that is how it was supposed to be.
Now, she is a college graduate, working in a lab, and unmarried. Regrettably unmarried? Not. One. Whit.
One thing she said that really struck a chord was her memory (I recall this perfectly as well) of making lists of attributes of our ideal husband. She said, “While most of the things I chose are laughable now, I was always bothered that we were choosing traits that our significant other was supposed to have rather than focusing on the fact that we too needed to be striving to be more well-rounded. They were, in fact, teaching us that we could not survive without a man, and if we did survive without a man then we were doing the impossible.”
I do not want to diminish the importance of marriage and family. The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes it clear how important family is, and why. Quite simply, “The family is ordained of God.” However, one cannot be happy in marriage if one is not happy with one’s self. Furthermore, while marriage is key to the plan of salvation, we are not defined by marriage. Heavenly Father loves us personally and individually, meaning though he wants me to get married and have children, he loves me not for my uterus but for me. All of me. He knows me as His daughter, Tamsen Maloy, not Mrs. So-and-so, future wife of whomever. He does not expect me to lose myself because I get married. He does not expect me to bury my talents in order to please my husband and rear my children. In fact He commanded, “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.” (D&C 60:13)
What is interesting about my case is, though I have always wanted to get married and have children, I have never rested my entire happiness on it. And yet, as a 24-year-old looking back (I have so far to look back, right?) my Young Women-reared self is absolutely shocked I am single. As a sixteen-year-old looking on, the idea of being 24 and single was preposterous. In no way could that ever be a reality. And yet, I’m single. And honestly, totally cool with it. Marriage is still something I want, as are children. But single or not, I am still me and “me” is pretty awesome.
The long and short of it is, Young Women in essence should teach us to be comfortable with who we are and to be amazing servants of our Father in Heaven. Look at the values in the Young Women theme: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue. I fail to see how we can truly live these wonderful values if we lose ourselves in the pursuit of a husband.
In reference to how the family should function, one of my favorite lines in The Family: A Proclamation to the World is, “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners [emphasis added].” The “equal partners” bit is what really gets me. With that line in mind, I have to ask, how can we really work as equal partners if we lose ourselves when we say, “I do?”
To close, I quote President Gordon B. Hinckley, the purveyor of temples and education and optimism, “The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part.”
thank you, tamsen!
Bonnie Belle Nelson
see ya'll after hawaii!