Friday, July 06, 2007


In the editorial at the beginning of the most recent issue of Exponent II, Kimberly Burnett talks about a moving Relief Society meeting she recently attended. The Relief Society President was teaching, and she began by explaining that she was very nervous and also not feeling well. Kimberly goes on to describe how strong the spirit was that day, and how she believes that the president’s openness about her weaknesses is what invited the spirit and enabled the sisters to open up.

I have seen it before: people confess their weaknesses; hearts are softened; people grow closer. Probably that’s behind my own urge to confess my weaknesses to others all the time. I want to break down barriers and encourage closeness. And when others reciprocate by confessing their own weaknesses, I feel closer to them.
I can see Kimberly’s point. I definitely agree we could use more openness in our church relationships. But I feel a little uncomfortable about this tendency of mine. Because when I meet people who either do not have weaknesses (well, not ones that can be shared, I guess) or who just prefer not to share them with me, I actually have a harder time getting close to them. Women who prefer to keep their struggles to themselves, or who simply aren’t struggling at the time, come across to me as harder to know—or even, gulp, less worth knowing. And that’s wrong, of course.

What I want to do is be able to be equally close and nurturing with another woman regardless of whether she has any problems (or at least wants to share them with me). What if, for example, Kimberly’s RS president was a confident woman and excellent teacher and public speaker? Would the spirit still have been able to come into the room? Is humility a requirement in order for the spirit to draw people closer? Is confidence a lack of humility? And, more importantly, how can I get to feel closer to the women in my life who don’t care to open up to me about their own struggles and insecurities? There has to be a way.

I hate that it’s more easy for me to like and love another sister when I know her pains. (As if it makes it so that I don’t have to feel insecure around her anymore; she’s “just like me.”)


k said...

Have you read Deborah Tannen's book "You just don't understand"? Fascinating. It's about linguistic differences between the genders. One of the things that demarks females, for example, is that they typically bond with each other through something she calls "Trouble Talk." So, you're not being unrighteous when you have a hard time bonding with "perfect" people. You're being a girl.

Ang said...

I was just telling Forrest about this conservative and rather bombastic woman in my ward who, on the face of it, you'd think would annoy the jeebers out of me--but I really like her. And I got to thinking about why and it's because she is who she is with absolutely no apology. She's not trying to please anyone, or be anything other than herself, and she doesn't care if people agree with her or disagree with her. She just likes to tell folks what she thinks. (She's not the kind of conservative that thinks everyone must always agree--maybe that's why I like her, too--don't often run in to those types! Yeah, yeah, now all the conservative bombastic folks reading your blog can be offended.) It's all about the honesty, though. Isn't that why we like to read? To try to get behind the veneers and approach truth as best we can? To hear other people's secrets--even fictional ones? And everybody has problems. It's just that there are some who refuse to acknowledge them, and others who acknowledge them but only very privately. I, like you, am attracted to those who aren't afraid of their weaknesses . . . and that just might be a weakness on my part. But I'll own it! And that's why I liked you, too, btw, from the very beginning.

Darlene said...

Yes, I've read that book, Kerry. I guess I am a typical girl. Rog and I were just talking about that book last night. He was wondering if I was troubled that he has some of the "feminine" traits. (I have my share of masculine things, too.) It's kind of silly the comfort we get in labelling things as "just typical feminine behavior" and masculine. Because of course we are all variations on the theme. And I wouldn't change anything about Roger, including the "feminine" things.

texasgal said...

"How can I get closer to the women in my life..."

I am the kind of friend that likes to converse and spend time visiting. One of my dearest friends was not like that when I first met her. It baffled me that she was so stand-offish. When we got together to do nothing but talk and visit, it just didn't work.

However, when we got together to can fruit, quilt, do something with our hands, suddenly she was very conversational. I realized that this friend was at her best when there was something to do. Now I make sure there is a little project at hand when we are together. She has become one of my dearest friends. I just needed to "unlock" her.

I think this is one reason why RS does crafts. It gives people a pretext to sitting and visiting that they normally might feel akward about. I am neutral towards crafts but I never miss these events because that's when people really talk.