Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BOMT: Strong like Unto Men

Sunday night at our family dinner, Jeff's brother David talked about a scripture-study technique his mission president assigned them -- rewriting scripture. Trust me, it's not as heretical as it sounds! They were assigned certain verses, then asked to digest them, personalize them, replace specifics with their own name, their own circumstances, and then write it all out in their own words -- essentially taking "Liken the scriptures unto us" to a whole new level. We asked David if this study process was effective, and he answered, "It was amazing."

Fast-forward to this morning. I awoke thinking about Relief Society -- specifically about some recent changes to the Relief Society meetings in our ward. Suddenly this week we've been asked to stop our "Good News Minute" (the dissenter in me wails, But how will the sisters bond, form connections?) and to also stop using 5 minutes for a "practice hymn," and not discuss any background or thought process behind the hymns (the dissenter and the musician in me are wailing in unison now, But if mothers aren't learning and loving the hymns, they won't use them in their homes. Family Home Evenings will suffer. Hymns invite the Spirit.) While we were visiting Pasadena a couple of weeks ago, a handful of sisters said some of the recent changes feel like they've taken the womanhood out of Relief Society -- (the motherhood, the sisterhood, the softness, the bonding) -- almost like they're turning it into priesthood. I was trying to process these ideas, not in a negative way -- just trying to wrap my mind around them. I wondered if a woman's role is being ramped up rather than diminished by these recent changes. I thought about Elder Packer and others stating that what we've done in the past will not be enough to save our families in the future. We need to be stronger.

Then this scripture came to my mind, repeatedly, insistently. It is a verse I read in the temple last week:
1 Ne. 17: 2
And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.
I thought about "wilderness" as an oft-used metaphor for moving outside our comfort zone, for trials and afflictions and stepping out into the unknown. I thought about the New Testament parable, milk before meat -- meat in this case being the deeper, heavier doctrines. And suddenly raw meat took on a whole new meaning. Those would be what Elder Maxwell called "the wintery doctrines" -- not the feel-good verses, but the difficult truths that are hard to hear, and harder to swallow. Suddenly, I felt like I had to rewrite this verse in my own words:
And we were so amazingly blessed during these fierce trials, that we were devouring deep doctrine and feasting on hard-to-swallow principles that we never would have been able to digest during any other time. Our women understood the meat of the gospel so well, they did nourish their children with milk on demand...always having plenty of solid principles at the ready, presented in a way children could understand. They were physically and spiritually strong, like unto the men--hard working, courageous, valiant. And they began to bear their trials and afflictions gracefully, without complaint.
That is my new perspective, and my new goal. Maybe the Lord needs a whole different kind of Relief Society to prepare this type of women. And I plan to be one of the strong ones.