Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Woman To Be Reckoned With

In high school I had a friend (count ‘em: one) who was not LDS. He was a really interesting guy and we had a lot of long discussions about how we saw the world differently. I did, in fact, actually get him to read at least some of the Book of Mormon eventually—and he didn’t have a burning in the bosom. That threw me for a loop, but that’s another discussion for another time.

One of our most interesting discussion topics was the psychic lady he went to visit a few times. He swore up and down that this lady had a gift. In all of my adolescent surety about the gospel, I was perplexed. Could she have a gift? And, if so, did it necessarily have to come from Satan? And, if not, was she becoming evil because she charged people money to visit with her? Eric, knowing how dubious I was, and determined to prove something, took a tape recorder with him the next time he went to visit this lady and ASKED HER ABOUT ME. And then she proceeded to TELL HIM ABOUT ME. Really! She said things that really did apply to me, and they were more than just the “Oh, well, you could probably say that about anyone and have a good chance of it being true” kind of things. One thing I remember in particular was that she told him I had just gotten glasses (I had) but that I only needed them to read (true).

When I listened to the tape later, I was absolutely speechless.

Anyway, here’s the really interesting thing. Of course, he didn’t just ask her to tell him about me at the time—he asked her to foretell some things about me. She was quiet a long time, and then she said something like this:

“This girl has a pretty interesting life ahead of her. She will stay in her church, doing all the things that are expected of her. And then at some point something will happen that will really shake her up. Part of it will be a divorce. And out of all this turmoil she will rise, stronger than ever, and become an amazing person—truly a Woman To Be Reckoned With.”


So I think about that sometimes. Was she right? Did she have a gift? And, if so, CAN I COUNT MY BROKEN ENGAGEMENT AS THE DIVORCE PART? Because it WAS a time of great turmoil. It DID shake me up a lot. It completely turned upside down my understanding of who God is and what he wants for me. It was the biggest event, in terms of long-term effect on my development, that had—and has—ever happened to me. Can it count? Can it? Because I’m not interested in the divorce part. And I definitely like the idea of being a Woman To Be Reckoned With.

But, I admit, I don’t really feel like one, most of the time. In fact, I rarely even feel like a "woman." A woman is someone tall and dressed up that men write songs about. Me, I'm still a girl. In fact, a lot of the time, I'm still sort of shrinking inside like I’m still in seventh grade.

But. Once in a while, I feel the WTBRW come out.

Like the other day when my friend A was telling me about what happened in her Relief Society. It seems that a sweet, well-meaning sister had been asked to teach the RS lesson on Modesty from the Strength of Youth pamphlet. And in her zeal, she decided to use a few extra resources, including a recent article from the Church News and various other printed opinions of People Whose Opinion Should Carry Weight (according to her). According to A, Sweet Sister spent a long time on things like The Evil of Attending Church With Bare Legs and The Evil of Layering Two (not “too”) Tight T-Shirts That Are Not The Same Color. And then approving members of the audience raised their hands and described other evils like Attending The Temple Wearing Flip-Flops. It was when A told me about how Sweet Sister had another sister stand up next to her as a visual aid of what not to do (poor Visual Aid Sister was wearing a T-shirt and skirt to church) that I felt Woman-To-Be-Reckoned-With raising her proud head. Oh, honey, if I had been there. If I had been there.

So maybe that Woman is inside me. But maybe it’s good that I keep her buried most of the time. Hopefully she will come out when needed (like during renegade RS lessons and when I hear my kids being bullied) and then . . . hear me roar.

Added later:
Wait a minute. I just realized something. Maybe I would feel more like a woman and less like a girl if I wore nylons to church in the summer and eliminated all T-shirts! You think? . . . .NAH!


Emily M. said...

I read that Church News article and I was ticked. Judith Rasband is her name, and she's a fashion consultant, and I think a pretty nice person. But here's the thing: the last thing we need in this church is more stuff to judge people over. If I want to have those personal dress standards and teach them to my kids, great for me. But I have no business silently critiquing those around me who aren't dressed the same way, especially if I'm doing that instead of welcoming them into the fold.

I say the broken engagement counts. Close enough for a psychic, anyway. Madam Cleo would be jealous.

k said...

the broken engagement totally counts.

and wear the flip flops, honey!

Ang said...

I think you already are a woman to be reckoned with. You're smart and brave and say what you think--this blog is evidence of that in and of itself.

I've always kinda believed in psychics myself. When I was younger I was a little ashamed of that (like it was some kind of heresy), but as I got older I decided that God gives all of his children all kinds of gifts, and the thought that God would only give Mormons certain spiritual gifts (healing, dreaming dreams, etc etc) is akin to God only giving Mormons the gift of lovely singing voices for use in the Tabernacle choir. Of course I realize that the priesthood sharpens and clarifies those gifts, and that there are plenty of charlatans out there pretending they have spiritual gifts. But Mormons don't hold the market on talking to God or even piercing the veil. IMO.

And I love the Relief Society story :-)

Anonymous said...

I believe, as "ang" said, that people of all faiths (or of no faith in particular) are given gifts from God, and that they have agency to use their gifts however they choose--for good or evil. I don't think I would ever go to a psychic, but I admire their gifts.

My friend (not LDS) knew a healer who went about healing others. This healer was told by her pastor that she'd healed some people prematurely (before God wanted them healed) and had, therefore, stunted their spiritual growth. My friend was quite troubled by this & wondered how someone could heal in the name of God if it was against God's will. I say, who does the pastor think he is in dictating when a person can be healed? Very interesting.

Boy, would RS teacher have a heyday here in MA, where on any given Sunday you'll see women wearing tight shirts, bare legs, flip flops, sleeveless shirts, and even *gasp* slacks on occasion. How can we work on our own spiritual growth when we're so caught up in worrying about what others are wearing? (Think motes & beams.) I definitely would have spoken up!

mary ann said...

Good post and comments too!
Your seventh grade observation reminded me of something one of my favorite bishops said. He told me "Mostly, I still feel like I'm 12 inside, and I'm 35!" I agree with him (and with you). I think it is a Great Unspoken Truth.

And I wish you'd been there to speak up in RS. I had to get loud with a member of the bishopbric who was talking about the 'doctrine' of women wearing skirts or dresses in the chapel while doing our cleaning duties. I said I'd do it if the men wore white shirts and ties while they cleaned too.
Then I just had to explain to the people at Costco hounding me about getting an executive membership for the umpteenth time that I am NOT going to spend that much money to shop at a place which doesn't even have a ceiling. Sure told them, didn't I.

Disorganized said...

I wish you were there too, since "A" apparently didn't speak up.

Mostly I'm admiring a throwaway side comment
But, I admit, I don’t really feel like one, most of the time. In fact, I rarely even feel like a "woman." A woman is someone tall and dressed up that men write songs about.
too true!

Cheri said...


I'm in awe of how effectively you combine two seemingly unrelated stories--each fascinating and thought-provoking on their own--to create an even richer, more "provocative" post that's also really fun to read.