Sunday, March 12, 2017

turning the tide

Today we had a lesson in Relief Society about Daughters of God. An amazing friend my ward, Rachel, taught the lesson. I always look forward to Rachel's lessons because she is bold, she is kind, and she is inspired. She knows how to facilitate a meaningful lesson. I always feel the spirit in her lessons and I always feel like I'm in a good discussion with friends that ends prematurely because class has ended, not because the discussion itself is over. 

Today's lesson was no exception to this. Rachel led an insightful discussion about the roles of women as daughters of God and as women of the world. In my mind, it was like we were going to draw a Venn diagram--how they were separate and distinct, and how they were the same. Initially the question was posed, something to the extent to what does it mean to you to be a daughter of God.

This is a question that honestly fuels the fire of my testimony. I've definitely had defining moments in gaining a testimony but the thing that I've always known is that I am a child of God. I have been blessed over time to come to understand my identity as a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and I love him. It has been my standard, the one against which I compare everything else. It has been my calibration point. It's been my anchor and my lighthouse. It has been my rod and my staff. It has been where I try to set my gaze and to focus my attention. Knowing I'm a daughter of God is a game changer. 

But then the conversation started down the path that it invariably goes down. Women just want to be perfect. We want to be good. We want to be mothers. Bless our mother hearts. But I started noticing some emerging patterns from a room of incredible single sisters. Themes such as empowering women role in the home, women dedication to their children, how they yearn to be mothers and stay home and raise their children, how we should exalt the role of mothers in the home and not the role of women in the workplace. I know that these women's intentions were good. But my heart began to break as I saw the theme of daughter of God tie directly to being a good stay at home say the least. Of course, there were other strong themes, but I started to truly sense this direct tie to "the woman I should be." 

Rachel then shared this quote by President Spencer W. Kimball, he said, "Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world." (The Role of Righteous Women, April 1979.) 

My hand shot up in the air and I said something to this effect...I love this quote! This quote to me doesn't say anything about whether we are single or married, whether we are working, mothering, or whether we are unable to work. It doesn't say anything about health or circumstances. What it does say is that in whatever we do, wherever we are, whatever our capacity, we can reflect righteousness and articulateness in our lives. We can lead distinct and different lives in happy ways. As we do this, we will be an ensign to the women around us. 

I am so guilty of constantly comparing myself to others. And it goes in cycles. I look at others and their seeming ability to do it all. I look at their children, and their husbands, and the experiences they're having that my heart only yearns for. It is so easy to look at the life of another and wish it was your own or clearly see how you could do it better. Neither of these paths is pleasing to God. He has called you here, to be on earth now to be you. He has a special work that he has called you to. Not you acting as someone else. He did not reassign your assignment to someone else because they could do it better. He called you to you work and me to mind. He has called me to be Erin McQuivey, witness of HIM at all times and in all places that I am in. That means he wants me to be that witness in my family, at my work, at my grocery store. He wants me to be that witness in my home and in my community. Am I heeding that call? Am I finding value in what I have been called to do?

This week, the Relief Society announced that it changed its purpose. It now reads:
"Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they:
Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants.
Work in unity to help those in need. 

The changes are highlighted in bold. I love that the purpose didn't change but we were refocused to the things that are most important. On our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Atonement. On individuals because salvation is an individual matter. And as individual children we are children of God. We all need the ordinances and covenants regularly in our lives. And finally...we can't do it alone. 

And that's the final point here. We can't do it alone. We cannot afford to be pitted against one another. It is only by working together in unity that we will be able to accomplish the great work we have been sent here to do. 

Sometimes, I think that we can all feel alone in the world. Satan has a way of pitting us against one another through worshiping idols and coveting what others have that we do not. We feel and sense the great battle that is happening. But don't let yourself ever feel alone. Sometimes, we might feel like Jehoshaphat of the Old Testament. A great multitude was coming to battle against them. He sought the Lord and proclaimed all to fast. Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord. As a part of his prayer, he said, "O our God, wilt though not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee."

So too, our eyes are upon thee. Regardless of what our calling is to do, regardless of the callings of those around us...our eyes are upon thee. We are righteous women of God with great potential in this world. Though our callings be divine and different, we are dependent on Him in all we do. Let us join together. Let us band together and continue to change the world. Let us turn the tide

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I delight in Thursday.

Today, I woke up at 5:45 and for the first time in months...I felt ready to be awake. I tell ya, it's like this root canal revolutionized my life. I can't believe how terrible I'd slowly faded away to feel. I showered, fixed myself eggs for breakfast (this NEVER happens), and I even rode my exercise bike! Miracles I tell you! I did some laundry, made my bed, and unloaded the dishwasher, all before leaving for work.

Let's be honest...all of these things happening in the morning in isolated events can be challenging and often is so the fact that they all happened this morning was a total anomaly. But, it definitely started my day off the right way.

Today was one of those days where I felt like I could focus. I could zoom in and just have at it. Did I complete everything? No. Did I complete a lot of somethings? Yes. Is there room for improvement? Definitely. But as flex of my favorite 3-4 weeks of the year comes to a close...I'm grateful for this chance that I have to kind of play catch up in various aspects of my work life.

The best part about Thursdays is going to the temple. I love the temple. Tonight we had a training by a sister in the temple presidency about the importance of baptism and the beautiful simplicity of the baptismal ordinance. It's so simple but so powerful. She challenged us all to read 2 Nephi 31 so that's what I will study tomorrow. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to participate in the Lord's work. I am also grateful for prayer. I am grateful that I can pray for others and that for them, especially some of them, they appreciate that they can ask for those prayers.