Monday, January 3, 2011

My Hope for My Wife and Daughters (and All Women) in Relief Society

One of the things I hope my wife and daughters get out of Relief Society is the recognition that every person needs a group where they are acknowledged, understood and loved for who they are - not for whom people want them to be.

I know a lady who grew up in a home where she was the stereotypical overlooked and under-appreciated child. She was a peacemaker, naturally faithful, a great student, etc. Her parents, however, took that for granted and held her up as an example to everyone - imposing unrealistic expectations that reinforced her natural guilt complex and made her desire to disappear and escape those expectations. We still communicate occasionally, and every once in a while she still mentions feeling lost even while in a group - because she grew up being overlooked, not because she was absent physically.

I hope Relief Society functions as a real community of sisters where all are valued and recognized and acknowledged and known and involved. I know that is idealistic, but it still is my hope - and I am sorry (truly apologetic) if describing that hope causes pain for anyone in a different situation. I only can pray that it will change, through the efforts of the women in each Relief Society group.


Patty said...

Fairfield Ward Relief Society is the first place I've ever truly felt accepted and a part of such a wonderful group. I can't put into words how much that has meant to me- I just hope everyone has the same experience!

Anonymous said...

Papa D, interesting that you said "every person" since I find the idea that we should be understood and loved for who we are to be a foreign concept for any priesthood quorum I've ever been involved with. Priesthood quorums seem to only care about what their members can DO: help with moving, help with temple assignments, help with setting up chairs and taking them down, etc. Where do the men of the church find a group that acknowledges, understands and loves them for who they are?


Papa D said...

Patty, that was one thing that worried us just a bit when we moved - that Fairfield was such a wonderful ward. Fortunately, our current ward is amazing, as well. Good Bishops and Relief Society Presidents have an incredible impact - and I hope you realize that applies to you and your service, as well.

KLC, that's an excellent question - and I'm not sure I've ever considered it in quite that way, which probably validates and bolsters your point.

Just free-flowing for a minute, but perhaps our constant reference to the Priesthood being about service (in order to blunt the tendency toward unrighteous dominion) lends itself to a more shallow "fellowship" when it comes to really getting to know each other deeply - past what we do and to who we really are.

It's kind of ironic that I really would prefer to be united in practice regardless of doctrinal differences than to have everyone think alike, when perhaps that focus on not really caring all that much about doctrinal differences perhaps keeps us from discussing the very differences that would help us understand each other more deeply and lead to acceptance for who we really are. By the same token, however, an obsession over uniformity of believe surely keeps those who don't think and believe the same silent - which also has the same effect as not caring about uniformity of thought.

Thanks, again, for asking. I'm going to think about this more and talk with others in my "real" life.

ji said...

I appreciate KLC's perspective. Our priesthood quorums also have a charge of "function[ing] as a real community of [brothers] where all are valued and recognized and acknowledged and known and involved."

Mama D said...

My immediate reaction is that part of the problem with priesthood quorums is simply that they are comprised of MEN. Men "do" things; they are providers. Women tend to make more emotional attachments and are more natural nurturers. Unfortunately, men have to overcome the "real men don't cry" "real men don't show weakness" "don't be a sissy" stereotypical crap.

Not that stereotypes and tendencies should determine how we as a group accept and understand each other, but...

Patty, FF Ward is a phenomenal unit made up of phenomenal people! It is a piece of heaven on earth. We have lived in some wonderful places, including our current ward, but nothing compares to FF!!

ji said...

I hope every man and every woman finds happiness in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, I suppose we must stop short of suggesting that "the Church" must meet and satisfy the social and emotional needs of every member -- "the Church" is only a gathering of individuals. And we cannot expect that a bishop can possibly meet and satisfy the social and emotional needs of every ward member, nor can the Relief Society president meet the needs of every sister. It is wonderful when it happens for one or a few, though.