Tag: Relief Society

Christmas RS Lesson

Today I had a wonderful experience. I got to teach Relief Society (Women’s organization at church) for the first time in a long time. I had the choice of any talk from General Conference and I decided on one called Try Try Try by President Eyring. Here is the talk if you would like to read it (I think it would be encouraging to those of any faith).

The main thrust of the talk is about overcoming hard times and never giving up hope. Naturally it being Christmas time I decided to relate the talk to this time of year. I created a powerpoint to walk through the lesson, which I don’t always do but it just felt like the right approach this time.

try try try

Then I created slides of important quotes from the talk and questions to ask the class:

try try try3

Then just for fun I added in some famous quotes from Christmas movies.

try try try2

I was a little nervous going into it because technology can go very wrong and I am a bit rusty teaching (I was a Sunday school teacher for over 5 years in my late 20s so I was basically a pro!). The RS presidency went above and beyond to help me and were amazing and several of my friends came to listen to my lesson, which was very sweet.

To my relief it all went very well. Everyone made great comments and we had an uplifting discussion. I feel very inspired!

Here is the full powerpoint as a video. Feel free to use it as a family home evening lesson or anything else that might be helpful for you and let me know how it goes.

Merry Christmas!

 

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A Self Reliant LDS Single Woman

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This is one of my religious Mormon-centric posts so feel free to skip if not interested in that topic.

I’ve been mulling over in my brain a gospel topic the last few days .  Mothers Day (or what I call Female Guilt Day) always makes me feel a little sad.  People can give me all kinds of reasons why that shouldn’t be but all that does is make me keep my sadness to myself.  It doesn’t make it go away.

I know all the easy answers, the promises of a family for the righteous.  I get all of that but it doesn’t mean a day celebrating the big part of being a woman I don’t have doesn’t sting a little bit.

I was particularly thinking about my new job and how grateful I am for the chance to do something I really love.  There are no words for how much that means to me. A smile worthy of smilingldsgirl covers my face whenever I think about it.  I am so excited!

It also occurred to me this week that taking such a position would probably be difficult if I had a family or was married.  The position pays less than I was making and is at least for now part-time. However, it is an opening to start a new life, a new career! That’s the exciting part!

Plus, I still get to work from home and my finances are such that I can afford to take a pay cut.  I also might not get insurance through my employer.  We are still researching that. I feel so fortunate that I am at a spot in my life to take such a job.  🙂

Here’s the thing I could use some guidance on-

I try to be positive and not be a negative Nelly when it comes to my single status in a family church.  It comes and goes but in general I think I am happier than most other singles I know.  Nevertheless, for some reason it feels more justified in talking about the downsides of being single rather than the upsides.  I can’t completely put it into words but I feel like I am not supposed to be ‘so’ happy in the single life, only moderately happy.

Let me try to explain-

It’s quotes like these that confuse me.

“And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own…”

President Benson

So, we are supposed to be independent and self-reliant but not ‘so’ independent and self reliant.  We have to live a good life but not to the point where we feel we can ‘do just as well on your own’.  What does that mean?  Should I feel continually like I am not quite doing ‘just as well’ on my own? Just as well as who? Married people?  Just as well at what? Living?

He goes on:

“Certainly we want our single sisters to maximize their individual potential, to be well educated, and to do well at their present employment. You have much to contribute to society, to your community, and to your neighborhood.”

“But…”

“We earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple to a worthy man and rear a righteous family, even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers. Our priorities are right when we realize there is no higher calling than to be an honorable wife and mother”

So if I read him right we can do many great things and that is encouraged, but at the same time we must  be always hoping and waiting to give all those things up for marriage and family. It seems to me that somebody isn’t going to ‘maximize their full potential’ if they are constantly keeping an escape hatch available for their ‘true and higher calling’?

I know so many single Mormon women who feel unfulfilled because of that escape hatch.   It’s like you end up doing a lot of mediocre things because the big thing you really want or feel a need to do you can’t.  The thing that will make you the happiest you can’t do so you settle for medium-level happiness.

That doesn’t seem right.  God wants us to be happy no strings attached. It doesn’t say ‘the plan of happiness except for single people who are merely content’

What is so wrong with devoting yourself completely to the role that God has given you to play at the moment you are playing it?  In my experience it is only in such obedient moments that  I am open to the promptings to change and grow, maybe even meet someone.  Is that too independent, or too self reliant?  I don’t think so.

It seems to me I am always happiest in life when I dive right into an experience with no back up plan or escape hatch.  In fact, enjoying my single lifestyle can feel unfeminine and the opposite of the ooey goey woman I hear about on Mothers Day.

It can also seem like I am saying the single life is better than being married but I’m not.  It’s just different. (And I do not think the single life is inherently selfish either.  I hate when people say things like that)

I know such feelings are ridiculous.  I should be happy when happy things happen but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at times conflicted with how happy I should feel.

What worries me is I don’t want to live a life in second place.  The silver medalist, to my married friends who get the gold, and that’s kind of what the quote says.  After all, we as singles can contribute to our employment, community, society and neighborhoods but… the higher calling is motherhood. That’s what we believe. And I think that is why Mother’s Day can be a little sad for me. It’s the day of the year where that Gold medal is thrown in our faces and we realize we have the silver.

But, I just can’t live my life that way.  I believe that God has a plan for all of us and while we may not be fated to be with a particular person, I believe He does know when that event will happen.  He needs me right now to work in his single vineyard and that is not a second place position.

Does that mean I am not open to a different vineyard?  Of course not.  Nothing would thrill me more than to find that Great Love but I am not going to settle for sloppy seconds waiting for it.

So, instead I will be happy for the good things in my life and not worry whether I am ‘too independent’ or ‘too self-reliant’ any more.  God knows my heart and He has told me many times before when I need to straighten up and refocus my priorities.

I was a good missionary because I gave it all to that calling.  I was able to get on that plane and have no regrets, and I don’t see why this phase of my life with my new job is any different?  I’m going to give it my all and have a blast along the way.  I am so excited!

I’m going to allow myself to feel 100% happiness while doing it.   The truth is I am self-reliant and independent but I am also obedient and have a missionary heart.  The Lord knows me, and He is guiding my path. He certainly helped me get this job so I might as well have a ball while doing it.

Anyway, forgive these ramblings.  It was just something I needed to work out and I think I did as I typed.  Hopefully my musings are helpful to someone out there.

Happy Mothers Day to all you amazing moms and to my own Mother.

Nurturing

Just a comment- this post is mainly for my LDS friends but feel free to read on either way!

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of nurturing.  In the Mormon church nurturing is frequently the top verb used to describe women.  The Family: A Proclamation to the World even says “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

Despite the frequency of this verbage and its clear importance, the actual meaning of the word is a little fuzzy.  I bet if you asked 100 Mormon women you would get 100 close, but sometimes strikingly different answers.   Recently released General Relief Society President Julie Beck created great controversy in 2007 when she said:

“Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a “house of order,”

and, “Mothers who know…bring daughters in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection; their sons wear white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts.”

So, according to Sister Beck learning to nurture is more important than any other kind of education, and yet still what is it exactly?  Surely, it is more than learning to iron and brush hair to perfection!  Sister Beck goes on to say “Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home.” (Also, couldn’t homemaking be a home of one?)

Well, this confuses me even more because is not the standard of an orderly home completely subjective?  I know people that even at our cleanest would find my parents home very cluttered and those that would see the reverse.  And even if this is the definition is that something to build an eternal life and purpose around? Some of the most righteous homes I’ve been in were dirty, cluttered and even chaotic.To give Sister Beck more credit I am sure she would agree.  As all general authorities she is required to teach an ideal and let us govern ourselves.

However, it still doesn’t answer the question about nurturing.  What is it and how is it best expressed? Oftentimes I feel when it gets defined as homemaking it limits the scope of the word to those who are what I call ‘ooey goey’.  Meaning they see a baby and coo.  They want nothing more than to have a home with tons of kids and husband who provides for them. I loved reading Stephanie Nielsen’s book but she is totally that way, which is great.  I’m not down-grading this in any way.  In fact, I quite envy it but its just not me right now.

In fact, I’ve never been like that.  I’m much more of a realist when it comes to family life and have never had a huge innate desire to have my own children.  There are a lot of reasons for this but there it is.  I’m open minded and willing to do whatever Heavenly Father asks but I don’t crave it like some girls.

For some single girls I know not having children is the great sorrow of their lives, and I just don’t feel that way.  I don’t have a great sorrow. I’m happy with my life.  This contentment sometimes feels wrong, like I should be desiring for these things more, but what good would that do me? I’m not avoiding them…Hmmm?

This makes me wonder- do I lack this essential trait of nurturing that is supposed to be so natural to women?  Sister Beck seems to answer yes, saying quite bluntly:

“Mothers who know desire to bear children”.  and again “Faithful daughters of God desire children.” That doesn’t make me feel very faithful…Hmmm?

There has to be more to it than that…

I honestly don’t know the complete answer and I wonder what Sister Beck would tell me to do?  I’m sure she would be sweet and lovely but I wonder what advice she would give?

I always felt a connection with Martha in the Mary and Martha story in the New Testament.  Am I a Martha who is focused on the more practical, instead of the intangibles like Mary? What can I do about that? Hmmm (Also, couldn’t the Mary/Martha story refute some of the perfectly ironed and brushed mothers Sister Beck describes above?)

I’ve always loved this painting and have a copy in my dining room to remind myself to focus on the Lord and not the business of the world. Minerva Teichert Mary and Martha.

The fact is we don’t know why some of us are given certain personalities, natures, desires and others aren’t?  We don’t know why some are given certain opportunities and others are not, but isn’t it a comfort to know that God knows? 

Even though I occasionally feel guilty and more than a little unfeminine for my personality, I know that God accepts me and see’s my efforts to be obedient.  99% of the time I am comfortable with who I am and what my role is in God’s plan. When those 1% moments happen He is there showing me my worth.

That said, I still don’t know 100% what it is I am striving for? I was talking to a friend the other day and she said I have nurturing qualities in ways that don’t necessarily involve babies such as entertaining, cooking, making friends etc.  This was a very comforting thought.  Perhaps I will enjoy certain parts of nurturing more than others.  I am sure the priesthood enjoy and feel adept at certain responsibilities more than others.  Nobody is perfect (and how boring would that be if we all were!).

More my style with kids! LOL

In the new book Daughters In My Kingdom about the history of Relief Society they give the best definition of nurturing I can find:

“Nurture is a rich word. It means to train, to teach, to educate, to foster development, to promote growth, and to nourish or feed. Women have been given the great privilege and responsibility to nurture in all these senses.  Sister Julie B. Beck taught about the role of nurturing: “To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers [should] create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes.”

I think I might have stumbled upon the answer- to nurture is teach, to educate.  That is something I’m great at! I’m a really good teacher (maybe not as much for kids but I’m learning).  When I left the singles ward 😦 I got an email from a girl saying:

“I just wanted to say thank you SO much for all of the Sunday School lessons you taught. I always looked so forward for you to teach. I have learned a lot from you and I know I have heard other people say that too!

You have such a wonderful personality and a very strong testimony. It is evident in the way you teach and the wonderful attitude you have! Keep up the great work and never stop being the wonderful person you are!”

Maybe I’m not so bad at nurturing in this form. Hmmm?

I think of book club and how I have fostered an environment of discussion or teaching cooking lessons to my sister and her friends or writing this blog to hopefully share and teach.  Is this not nurturing? It seems so different than Sister Beck’s definition?

I don’t know if I have it 100% figured out but I’m on to something. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about knowing everything but about continually learning.  For me at least these questions are not faith altering but faith refining. If we do not ask questions than we will never grow and our faith will remain stagnant.

Even the pioneer women there were some who became doctors and published newspapers, and others who had 15 children.  They weren’t all the same, but it seems like they were all good at nurturing.

What do you think?  How do you define the word nurture? What is the end goal of nurturing in regards to womanhood and progression?

Some varying talks on this topic-