Trying to find exactly what I miss

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm currently reading Spencer W. Kimball's "Faith Precedes the Miracle." I enjoy studying the gospel through the prophets because I often find it is easier to understand. This book uses almost constant scriptural reference and although I have read the same scriptures before and do understand their intent I appreciate the insights of our past prophet.

In reading prophets teachings however, I sometimes feel my beliefs, the modern world, and their statements conflict. Occasionally, I struggle to understand and I'm not sure if it's my own stubborn, opinionated approach to life, or if there might be justice in my thinking.

Let me highlight my current hangup for the sake of receiving any insights those who stumble upon my blog might care to divulge.

It's from the chapter, John and Mary, Beginning Life Together. First conflict: p 128 discusses the error young women make in preparing for a career that they will not follow. He specifically mentions languages, mathematics and business. He continues to discuss the need for studies relating to homemaking and child-rearing. Although I agree that understanding children, and the ability to teach and cook will make motherhood (a role I do wish to someday achieve) much easier, I don't understand the logic behind criticizing these other degrees. We can't all major in Marriage and Family Relations! And what a sad world it would be if we did. I make the argument that though some mothers are amazing mothers because they tell great stories and cook and sew; are not other mothers amazing because they can instill in their young children a sense of entrepeneurship and the concepts necessary to go on and start successful businesses. Some mothers make homemade bread and some mothers buy their bread. Must we be so quick to judge one mother over the other. Is that not the great understanding of our Heavenly Father to allow all different women to be mothers, each with their different skills and talents to raise children with these varying talents? And what about those women who will not be blessed to have children? Should they also deny their talents in "languages and mathematics and business?" As a young women today, how is one to know that you will not be called upon to support yourself, and or a family? Heaven forbid, I were to get married and my husband pass away, I will wish I was a successful business woman with her MBA and the skills necessary to provide for my family with a job that only requires me to be gone minimal hours a week.

Another paragraph that got me, p 129 "You wouldn't want to work outside the home... broken homes resulting when women leave their posts at home. You will remain at home... and when John comes home tired, you will be fresh and pleasant." Ok, really. As you know, if you're actually my friend, I am a bit of a work-aholic. I love working. And although I would love the opportunity to stay home with my children, part of me thinks that I would still enjoy a few hours working when I'm a mom (paid or volunteer). AND, the whole bit about being fresh and pleasant when the hubby comes home tired sounds like a load of bull to me. Ok, I've tended children and I've worked 12 hour shifts waiting tables and we've all heard me complain about waiting but seriously, taking care of kids is SOOOO much more tiring. Kids require infinite patience and even more energy! I will try to look good and keep my house nice, so that my husband will want to come home... but to think that he'll be tired and I won't because I've "just been at home all day" is the biggest lie I've ever heard.

I don't want to be misunderstood as disagreeing with the basic principles of the church or saying that the prophets are wrong. I believe that males and females are inherently different with individual roles. I also believe that it is important for a mother to raise her children. I just struggle to fit these ideals into my life in the world today. Am I supposed to wait around sewing and cooking until I find a husband and have children? Should I not be so hard on myself for not working in my field and gaining work experience, because I wish to someday raise children? Is it valid to argue that perhaps the life we live is different than the life some of our prophets who preached these doctrines lived? I mean we face different challenges than even our parents twenty years ago, and our children yet will face new challenges. We live in a world that changes on a daily basis, and though gospel principles do not change, I believe that our approach to effectively living those principles might require us to adapt.

Many of those who read this blog are talented, college educated mothers whom I respect to the utmost, brilliant career women working on furthering their education, or students diligently studying their field of interest (shelli just finish stats!). What do you think? Have you read this book? What are your thoughts relating to the Church's views on women's roles?

To end on a less serious note, there was a passage that just made me happy. Allow me to share: "There has grown up a deplorable exploitation of young women in queen contests. Practically every school, industry, political subdivision, celebration, and class must have a queen. There are queens for every vegetable, fruit, farm product, until it is ludicrous." Anyhow, he continues for two pages criticizing beauty pageants which just makes me laugh. Oh Utah and your beauty pageants...

I think I could win a title ;)


Mary said...

Here's what I think {and take this for what you will, the perspective of someone who, six years out of high school, has yet to earn her bachelor's degree}:

I think President Kimball was trying to emphasize the importance of women in the home, how it's important to have the skills necessary to raise your children and teach them properly, even if his examples and references were outdated. I believe a woman can have a career {should have a career if she wants to; many Mormon women stay at home and also work, both to pursue their interests and to keep themselves from going nuts}, as long as her first priority is her family. If her career isn't taking time and energy away from her family that her family needs, it can't be a bad thing.

Also, President Hinckley said that a woman should get as much education as she can, so getting a degree in whatever you want sounds good to me. I'll take President Hinckley's advice over President Kimball's any day {if that isn't too blasphemous to say}.

Now I'm going to publish this comment and re-read it to see if I sound completely ridiculous...

Jan said...

I agree with Mary--the important thing is your family and whether they are a priority for you. It is easy to get caught up in "the world" and begin to put priorities in places where they shouldn't be--we've all done it and will probably continue to do it. However when it comes to our eternal families, the stakes are a lot higher, so they need to be kept at the top of the "list". That being said, I also think that you need to look at when that was written and then remember a phrase that you said: "the world changes on a daily basis". I believe that as you prayerfully decide WITH the Lord what you need to be doing, then all is good. And we need to remember that what is right for one woman may not be right for another.

Interesting blog....I read that book when I was at BYU and before I was married. I remember that chapter bothering me a little then...

emily said...

I just thought I'd comment as one of your non-married, non-mother readers. What Pres. Kimball's words made me think of was Pres. Hinckley. In 2000, Pres. Hinckley spoke to the youth about the 6 B's. And the second is Be Smart. He told all of us to get an education. He set up the Perpetual Education fund that can be used by anyone, male or female. So I searched and here is what I found:

From: Gordon B. Hinckley, “How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?,” Ensign, May 2001, 93.

"Find purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do, and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit. For most it is very difficult to settle on a vocation. You are hopeful that you will marry and that all will be taken care of. In this day and time, a girl needs an education. She needs the means and skills by which to earn a living should she find herself in a situation where it becomes necessary to do so.

Study your options. Pray to the Lord earnestly for direction. Then pursue your course with resolution.

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.

I was in the hospital the other day for a few hours. I became acquainted with my very cheerful and expert nurse. She is the kind of woman of whom you girls could dream. When she was young she decided she wished to be a nurse. She received the necessary education to qualify for the highest rank in the field. She worked at her vocation and became expert at it. She decided she wanted to serve a mission and did so. She married. She has three children. She works now as little or as much as she wishes. There is such a demand for people with her skills that she can do almost anything she pleases. She serves in the Church. She has a good marriage. She has a good life. She is the kind of woman of whom you might dream as you look to the future.

For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit. You can be excellent in every way. You can be first class. There is no need for you to be a scrub. Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you. Particularly, pay no attention to what some boy might say to demean you. He is no better than you. In fact, he has already belittled himself by his actions. Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities, and forever and always be loyal to the Church."

Life/the world changes and we are blessed with living prophets who help us navigate those changes. I don't think that we just blow off what Pres. Kimball said, because I needed to learn how to clean, I needed to learn how to cook, and I needed to learn how to fix things, because I am running a household - even if it is only of one. But I so value my education, and I am grateful for the job that I have because of it.

Rachey said...

I have the same attitude as you carla, maybe that's why we get a long so well :) I don't believe Kimball was trying to put down any other degree even though he sounds like it, but you have to remember kimball probably wrote that book 20 years ago and things were different. It is important for someone to be home when the kids are home, work out schedules as you can. Yes they can have a little independance at certain ages which will help them mature and babysitters and play dates for a little until someone gets home helps them socialize and learn those skills. In my opinion a business woman can be just as great of a mom as anyone, but she needs to be more careful with her degree bc it can compelteley take her away from the home. LOVE YOU!!!!!!! "why do you live so happily while I ......" c!

Amanda Swafford said...

Preach it!

I'm a new mom and it's gonna be really tough to finish my degree, but I sure hope I do!

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