An Unexpected Reaction

I think I recently let you all in on the fact that I was called in my new ward to be a teacher in Relief Society.  If you know me at all, you know that I could not have been happier with this calling than if I was tapped on the shoulder by Enoch himself and given a key to his city in the sky.

I taught my first lesson a couple of weeks ago on the dreaded topic of marriage.  Don't get me wrong...marriage is wonderful.  All I'm saying is that it's a heady thing, standing in front of a room full of women who generally want nothing more than to be married.  They're just waiting for the men to get on board.  And these are women who, by and large, were complete strangers to me.

A. w. e. s. o. m. e.

I had a bit of spiritual schizophrenia as I prepared for the lesson; what did these women need to hear from me...another single person?  I clearly do not have any key to snagging the man of my dreams.  Hell,* the last handful of dates I've been on have been...doozies.  {Have I thanked you enough for that, Utah men?  I really enjoy nothing more than being told that I dress too immodestly and that Satan influences me through my taste in music.}  

Regardless, I had a lightning bolt of inspiration and got the job done.  There was a quite surprising moment, though.  One that has kept me thinking.

I planned, somewhat hesitantly, to stage a slightly irreverent object lesson.  I had the sisters recreate that old Young Women's lesson where they write a long list of things they want in a husband... Returned Missionary.  Goes to the Temple Weekly.  Reads The Scriptures Every Day.  Oh, and please, oh please, let him be a stone cold fox.

And then, I had them rip them in half.

.....And then, I had them throw away the ripped bits into the garbage can.  *gasp*

To be clear, I was very quick to point out that I'm not saying that it's a bad exercise for Young Women (even though, secretly, I think it is).  I just wanted to make a point about becoming ourselves the women that we want to be as we enter into marriage.  (I also hoped in the deepest caverns of my irreverent heart that the sisters would feel the weight of impossible expectations we place on men in the Church.) 

I was nervous.  I was nervous because I stood in front of presumably born and bred, culturally indoctrinated sisters who might brand me with a scarlet letter for kind of, sort of, maybe implying that a standard lesson in the Church is inadequate.  What I got was...not what I was expecting.

The women were cheering.  Literally cheering.  A couple of them CLAPPED.  Seriously, they were like this baby.  I kid you not.

There was this intense lifting of heaviness.  These women felt empowered.   

And I was just left thinking, "...What just happened?"  Of course, I – in my infinite cool-headed, awesome teacher-i-ness – just moved confidently on without really reacting.  But that question has lingered.  And honestly, I'm still a little bit mystified here.  Is it possible that in placing our women (young or not) in the paradigm of expecting things from men that we take away bits of their own empowerment?  

All I know is this:  ripping up those lists freed the women in that room to make lists of what they themselves would like to accomplish.

*Sorry for my mild indiscretion here.  But, not enough to not write it.


Derek C. said...

Interesting, Lauren! Sometimes, we let others (the church) define our expectations. When we decide that we own our destiny, it frees us to make the choices we know are best for ourselves, rather than what we've been told - or we think we've been told is for our benefit.
When we let go of expectations, we open ourselves to new possibilities that we had excluded before.
After all, Life is what happens when God gigles at our Plans, and extends His finger to make things interesting....
So glad those women were able to see past expectations and open themselves to living their life rather than resigning to 'fate'.

Juline said...

Love it!!!! Sounds like your dream calling is going dandy! I too remember that horrid lesson of "the list" as a kid. The closest we ever got was being told to be what we thought our spouses would, realizing how awful either of those scenarios are for EITHER sex, particularly pre-marriage!! The guys I think are told the same things, only more subtly. I don't thnk it even has to be a religious thing, I think we are all told far too often in life starting with perhaps "you will make mommy happy if you eat this" that our lives must be lived and developed for the sake of someone else or that what others think of us is more important than what we think of ourselves.

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