Thursday, October 8, 2015

womanhood in the classroom(s)

Last weekend was LDS General Conference, where we were addressed by the leaders of the church on inspired topics of doctrine. It was a wonderful conference; I was so worn out from Saturday's sessions that I could hardly stay awake through Sunday's. It didn't help that Ben and I arose early to drive out to see his grandparents.

I did, however, get to listen to about 3/4 of Sunday morning's session on the radio. The first couple of talks were great. Then, Russell M Nelson gave his address: "A Plea to My Sisters". This powerful talk struck me deep and made me feel such love and appreciation from the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To summarize, he talked about the importance of righteous covenant-keeping women. He discussed our unique spiritual sensitivity and abilities and implored us to speak up in meetings and classes and councils and all other places where our voices are needed. He stressed the importance of our perspective and abilities in the home in conjunction with priesthood holders. He made me feel important and validated in my role and in my divine nature and in who I am.

One time, in a religion class at the LDS institute, my teacher asked a question. I gave an answer, a little hesitant, to which he responded, "Okay..." and asked for another answer. Needless to day, a young man raised his hand, gave the same answer, and was told that his answer was excellent.

Few things drive the Spirit away faster than that. Few things make me not want to ever raise my hand in a classroom again like that.

At BYU-Idaho, there are about 3-4 girls in my math and physics classes. On Tuesday, in my physics lab, all three of us girls were in one group. I often feel the need to be quiet, to not take charge, to not lead my peers, and when I do so, I can sometimes feel ridiculous and out of line. Of course, I'm an anxious and introverted person when it comes to speaking up and speaking out, so it would obviously be different for a headstrong girl in my shoes (go you! you do you! keep on doing that! it helps people like me!). But I always learn the hardest concepts better when I guide others through it and allow others to guide me, by voicing my thought process, by helping other people and being helped by them. Learning is a group effort, and the voices of men and women have distinctly different properties that can work together to bring about incredible things.

In any given religious classroom, most of the time, you'll hear deep male voices bellowing mission stories and gospel principles. Sometimes, the same guy has a 2-minute answer to every question. Sometimes, you sit next to that guy and just want to punch him (love thy neighbor, Aileen, love thy neighbor.....). But the more I've learned to overcome hand-raising anxiety and speak up, the more I've felt the Spirit teach me and the more I've been able to discern between answers specifically for me and answers I need to share with the class for someone else to hear.
"My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration....you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.
We know that the culminating act of all creation was the creation of woman! We need your strength!"
Listen/read/watch the talk I referenced above. I'll add it here, too. President Nelson gave such a powerful address that every woman needs to hear and hold in her heart as true Christian doctrine. The power of speech is never to be ignored or downplayed. The Spirit will only speak as much as we do, so as much as we listen, we must also do.

(Here is a summary if you're short on time)