Thursday, August 28, 2014

Women: The World Needs You


Women. What is your role here on this earth? What are you meant to do here?

I've noticed as I've explored this question that how I view womanhood, our purpose, and our role, has not been adequately articulated anywhere else. I want to record my thoughts if for nothing else so my daughters will have it recorded what I hope for them to bring to this world.

I used to think exclusive stay-at-home motherhood was what Heavenly Father intended for most women. That that was the way he planned it. And that although there should be some women doctors or school teachers or something of the sort, their's was a special calling, unique to their specific plan on this earth. Or that their job was bred out of necessity, and God understood that.

But now that I have been called to go to school (to what end I am still unaware) and I have started the process, a question has been burning in my mind. Would God ask me to do something that is bad for my children?

I have studied The Proclamation on the Family with some interest.

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

I was not aware until further reading, the difference in wording between the roles of men and women. Men are totally responsible for providing for their families. Women are primarily responsible for caring for their children.

Primarily is defined as: the main purpose, or in the first place. But primarily does not mean an exclusive focus, and neither does it mean a secondary focus.
Is leaving your children inherently wrong?

I think a woman of God can do it in the right way. 

I have realized this week as I've tried to figure out why God wants me to do this that I am not unique. God has a calling for every woman. A woman of God is always primarily contributing to her family, and secondarily to the world, in whatever capacity God directs.

But women are unique from men. I don't think we need to be ambitious or competitive, and make ourselves marketable in a man's world. As women we don't have anything to "prove." We don't need to prove that we have the smarts, or the know-how, the leadership, or the scientific prowess to compete with men. As women we are different. Not less. Not less smart, having less leadership skills or unscientific minds. Just different. 

Margaret D. Nadauld has taught: “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

These attributes of women should not live in an exclusive women's world, an alternate universe where we only speak to each other. Certainly there is a place for this. But I think more than another food blog what we need is refinement in a space that is not refined. Creativity in the challenges of weighty matters. We can showcase our womanly talents of kindness and ingenuity in correcting substantial, life-altering problems that can sustain others through hard times. I'm not sure what avenue it may mean for you specifically, but I know it is one where you are desperately needed.

It may be that you are needed to volunteer or be more involved in the community. In many cases, you may even be able to mentor your children by taking them with you. If we mothers find ourselves in the workplace, we can be absolutely clear. When you live your life as a mother first, finding the right experience will be easy. You can outline your priorities and admit the culture of work/life balance we are looking for. You can work part time, or less. Create the opportunity. If we can't find it, we need to make an effort to create it. Other cultures have better work/life balance, so ours is not set in stone. We cannot create it if we do not dream and attempt to make change.

If we seek to find opportunities like this, it's not the idea of working vs. staying home. We can primarily share with our family but also find ways to share with others as well. 

But why? Why make an effort to find something out of the home if we are happy here already? Why volunteer when we are already too busy? Why work extra if we are completely fine with the income our husband brings in alone? Because the world needs you. Some of the absolute best, brightest, most compassionate women I know are stay-at-home mothers. Not to say their talents are "wasted" at home, certainly not. The children they are responsible for are phenomenal. But the world needs more of this. The world needs more exposure to tender, refined, pure, and virtuous women. God created you as a way to preach His gospel. Preaching the Gospel in this way should not make you more busy. Cut out some of those extracurricular activities you think are teaching your children and teach them in a new way, that life is not about you but about others. If you currently work outside the home, find a way to show your kindness, goodness, and refinement the world is lacking. Make it more than "just a job" but a gift of yourself. This is God speaking through you.

Live it. Breathe it. And pray and ask God how you can glorify Him by finding the right experience for you.




Post edit:  I wanted to make clear that I am not suggesting that all women jump up and go find an 8-5 job. I am grateful that God has enlarged my understanding to see that work can be a way to serve, and many women may be called on to do it in the future. And that all of us, regardless of our work status, will be called on to serve Him in some capacity that (I believe) will be in addition to family and church responsibilities. As the Lord hastens his work, we will be asked to do more and contribute in ways that might not be traditional or comfortable to us.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks! I have been thinking about this a lot lately and this was some really good insight. I always appreciate your thoughtfulness and study. Enjoy school! And I'm so glad to hear that Ephraim is doing well.

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  2. I love this post. I really love how you pointed out that "primarily" doesn't mean "exclusive", I'd never really thought of it that way before. I think you are so right that the world needs women to be involved and changing things! I think that part of the problem though is that the way our society is set up women often have to make a choice. The US is not a woman-friendly or family-friendly society and so I think to often women end up having to focus on their job primarily-- meaing the majority of their day and time is spent there-- while their family and children get the secondary, the lesser portion of their time. That is hard and is something I would love to see change. I have actaully been thinking alot about how increidble it would be if we went back to how it was (for most of history) and did FAMILY work-- where husbands, wives and children all had a mission and purpose that they did TOGETHER. To me that seems 100% more world shaking than sending everyone separate directions :)

    Anyway, sorry there was my two sense. Would you be interested in posting a version of this on my blog. I'd love to get this type of discussion going with my readers. Let me know what you think.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! I totally agree about "family work," something I have thought a great deal about. I totally agree that the US is not set up for women to work in a family-friendly way and so it becomes an "either-or" situation. But as Elder Cook says, it's our job to change that, to change society (He talked about it in this talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/lamentations-of-jeremiah-beware-of-bondage?lang=eng&query=law+firm#17-10791_000_51cook).

      I would love to see a discussion about this on your blog! It doesn't necessarily need to be my post, but even to just hear your thoughts on the idea would be a great way to change people's perspective. I especially liked the points you brought up in this comment, things I didn't emphasize in my post.

      Thanks for reaching out Heather!

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