Monday, December 10, 2012

One Miracle at a Time

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*a very Mormony, brief and short response to this.

This big, blurry self-portrait of me was taken last October during General Conference. It was right after President Monson announced the change of age requirements for males and females serving missions. As he was speaking I started crying and then proceeded to cry throughout the entire weekend.

To me the announcement was an answer to prayers. Not just my prayers, but collective prayers for changes to occur in the way we offer church-related opportunities to young women. For me, dropping the twenty-one age requirement to nineteen for females meant something bigger than just a beefed up missionary force. It meant we are crawling out of an time where marriage at a young age is preferable to personal opportunities and self-exploration before marriage. It meant as a church we are making it easier for nineteen year old girls to develop a deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ at the most crucial time in their lives.

Almost immediately I texted in my niece Emily who turns nineteen in December with about seventy exclamation points per word. To me, this was a game changer for all of us women.

I cried when our favorite babysitter Charlotte came by to tell us she was leaving on a mission (half cried because I was so happy, half because she really is the best babysitter). Then I cried again when her mission call came--Germany, Berlin. And I know in February when she leaves I will cry--along with my bereft children. I cried hearing about nineteen year old girls signing up to go on missions like it was a call to the army during wartime. Thousands of them applied to go in the weeks that followed this announcement.

On Facebook that weekend I wrote a little note about my feelings and I heard mixed reviews in return. One friend of mine said, "The more things change, the more they say the same" referring to the fact that elders are able to go younger--at eighteen--and for twenty four months, while sisters still serve eighteen months. I understood this comment, I empathized with it, I realized it came from a place where equality between the genders is forefront. When asked in a news conference about the disparity in service, Elder Holland replied, "One miracle at a time."

In days that followed I also heard from close friends and family who were upset about the change for other reasons. They are of the staunch belief that women should prepare for marriage and the life of homemaker before considering a mission or even education (please note: this is not a sentiment the church officially teaches). I've had conversations with close associates who don't believe women should serve missions at all--some because they don't believe sisters are effective and some because they think missions are too intense for females to serve. Of course I passionately disagree with all these statements and I have felt hurt by their expressions, but I can also see that these beliefs are held by more people I ever thought possible in this day and age.

So, I've asked myself; "Can I be patient?" Can I allow for these single miracles to string together over to time to make up sweeping changes? Can I have compassion for those who fundamentally believe differently about the "place" of a woman? Can I wait on the Lord to prepare us for more changes in His time and in His way?

I think I can.

But I am impatient. I am easily frustrated. I don't always (hardly ever) temper myself when it comes to passionate, personal causes. I have found my greatest temptation is picking ALL the battles. I have to remind myself to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes on my family while I consider the causes in my heart. Which battles are for my children? Which are for my pride?

So yes, I think I can, but it's not always easy for me. Honestly.

It's like a bread crumb trail I am following. Here's a change to sister missionary requirements, and here's a sister giving the opening prayer at this year's Christmas devotional, and here's the church saying same-sex attraction is NOT a choice. I am following along, hopeful about the journey, learning patience and compassion, picking up each crumb, seeing miracles in the small offerings.

And crying, crying, a lot.


From this weekend...



Please Consider...
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Over the weekend Chup and I saw the award-winning play Martyr's Crossing at the Echo Theater downtown Provo. It's the story of Joan of Arc and it's message is very powerful--about agency, female relationships, faith and trial. I'd especially recommend the play to young women in particular. If you have a teenage daughters please consider going and enjoy the conversations that will undoubtedly follow!
Info here.

62 comments:

Middle-aged Diva (Carol) said...

It's amazing to see how your Church is moving into the new millenium and, it seems, all of a sudden. That's how it seems, anyway. The whole world is watching. Just thought I'd tell you. ;-)

Kirsty said...

Loved this post so much. Amen! Amen! Amen!
But this paragraph resonated so much:
But I am impatient. I am easily frustrated. I don't always (hardly ever) temper myself when it comes to passionate, personal causes. I have found my greatest temptation is picking ALL the battles. I have to remind myself to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes on my family while I consider the causes in my heart. Which battles are for my children? Which are for my pride?

Thank you as always for being brave and real.

Beth said...

Beautifully written.

My children are around the same ages as yours (though I am not keeping up with you) and I have loved watching your journey.

I have a lot of the same questions about the battles I am willing to fight for my children. It seems that my journey may be taking me a different way from yours but I am grateful to watch yours and know that there are so many strong, wonderful mothers out there willing to wage the battle for their precious littles.

J. Scott Bronson said...

For those associates who think that the sisters are ineffective as missionaries, I have this to offer: I worked at the MTC for a year, back in '86-'87, and sat in on a meeting where an R&D guy from Church Headquarters gave the skinny on a recent study. Now, I don't remember the exact numbers, but the proportions I offewr here are pretty close: About half the number of sisters were twice as effective as Elders. If the church was concerned solely with sending out missionaries to get converts, they would recruit sisters a whole lot more than they do the young men. Clearly, a mission is about more than getting baptisms.

Kristi said...

I agree with you 100%!!! I bawled from the second the announcement was made through the weekend - it still makes me cry whenever I think of it! I loved my mission and I remember at the MTC a talk that was given about how in the coming years there would be a massive influx of sister missionaries. The speaker said that mothers needed to be stronger in the gospel and able to prepare future missionaries in a way that has never been done before - and who better to prepare future missionaries than women who have served missions?
I am surprised to hear there was ANY negativity towards this - I hadn't heard! I cannot imagine reacting negativly towards anything a Prophet of God tells us! We are blessed to have him!!!

Michelle said...

I believe that it's not so much about equality, but rather having faith and trust in a God who is all-knowing, just, and merciful. My pride has definitely had to be put in check at times.

Cherie said...

I cried too, and shouted for joy when I heard the news. The only thing I would add is this. I think women are amazing missionaries and so needed. But I hope young women know that it has never been the one and only acceptable way to learn about yourself, God, and the beautiful world. A good friend of mine is eligible to serve a mission right now but has decided to do a study abroad program right now instead, and I think that is great. I'm definitely happy, too, that a mission is also on the table now for so many more young women.

Creole Wisdom said...

I've never been much for "Jezebel." Even as a progressive woman I don't like their style of writing or the way they are so antagonistic.

When I heard the news about the age limit being lowered I was happy. It's been good to watch the Church move towards positive progress. Certainly I understand that not everything can happen over night. I guess so some, little bits are never enough. I get being tired waiting for change and there are things about the Church that really anger me, but I also accept it as being a mostly positive place.

I am glad to see that less emphasis is placed on younger marriage. I know many people have successful young marriages, but for the most part, they are not. In a country with a nearly 50% divorce rate, it is almost 25% higher for those who marry before 25. I understand why LDS marry younger, but I still believe 18-19 is just too young. There's so much that happens between 19-25!

Also, what happens to the LDS girls who don't/chose not to marry? There are more righteous women in the Church. As it continues to grow I'll be very interested to see how the single situation and problems that arise from dating, dating standards, so much emphasis that to be a good/righteous/accepted/validated woman means young marriage and motherhood are solved and dealt with.

SarahJane said...

I too was thrilled to hear the age change announcement. I'm glad that more young women will take the opportunity to serve. My only concern with the logistics of this change is the safety of these young women and hope that the MTC will include (additional) personal safety instruction.

Miggy said...

Personally I'm not going to be happy until all women can have penises and all men can have vaginas. Women should hold the priesthood and men should be able to give birth and breastfeed. Equal means EQUAL and personally I will not settle for any form of inequality.

Elizabeth said...

As a non-Mormon feminist, I so appreciate your thoughts here. And as a writer, I love how you used the bread crumb/miracle analogy. Bravo.

Vesuvius At Home said...

Sometimes I think Jezebel hurts feminism by choosing agenda and snarkiness over earnest exploration.

I think an earnest exploration of personal experience beats the incessant noise of the internet any day.

I am glad that there are feminists like you, and Page, and others, aggregating for change within your religion, rather than abandoning it. If all the feminists left the church, would the church ever change? We cannot pick up our balls and leave the infrastructure if we ever want to see change within it.

I admit I did experience some vicarious frustration when I saw that women and men would not be able to serve at the same age. Then I remembered that I'm not Mormon. It's not for me to worry about. There are plenty of you doing a beautiful job of that.

Unknown said...

I have a 21 year old daughter already on a mission in Russia and a 19 year old daughter getting ready to submit her papers! Does anyone have the link to the video that was shot at Temple Square? I'd love to forward it to my daughters.

Unknown said...

I love your voice and feminist stance. Though I am not Mormon, and am actually quite liberal, I love reading your writings because we have so many beliefs that are in common. Isn't it amazing when we focus on what we have in common instead of the reverse. Goooooo sister and so happy for your church!

Rikki-Leigh said...

I find all the focus on Elder Hollands "one miracle at a time" statement interesting since he said that in response to sisters still only servin for 18 mo. As far as the continued age differece between men and women he said that from experience they know it works better to have the women at least a little older than the men.

Also if you think true eqallity is the way to go then women should be required to go with the same expectations as the men and have the upper age limits the men have.

While there is much that I agree with and admire about feminism, it seems like it misses the point sometimes. The point is that we need to prepare our young women spiritually for whatever opportunities and challenges are in
store for her. This new age requirement has just opened another option for men and women there is nothing unequal about that.

Vesuvius At Home said...

Dangit. I meant agitating. Not aggregating.

marlamuppets said...

love. love your heart. love your courage and honesty. love that you share your thoughts with us.

i swear i've never stopped breathing for what seemed like an eternity to hear them annouce the change. i cried because it will change how people see women serving missions. i cried when i thought about how more women in the mission field would make such a difference. and i cried over my stewardship over the young women in my ward and prayed to be able to really help them grow and be prepared for something difficult and challenging yet so worth it.

favorite line: So, I've asked myself; "Can I be patient?" Can I allow for these single miracles to string together over to time to make up sweeping changes? Can I wait on the Lord to prepare us for more changes in His time and in His way?

I think I can.

Unknown said...

As soon as I pressed play on the sister missionary clip, I burst into to tears! I felt the spirit so strong as each sister told of their mission destination.

Thank you for sharing!

Janet Patrice said...

how can we share your amazing video of all those beautiful women ready to serve?? It so powerful!

Heidi said...

Weeeeeell hey. I live in the Berlin, Germany mission. How's that for a coincidence?

Matt And Robin said...

I was excited about this news also! I am only worried that women will go on missions and get married afterward and that their education will be pushed lost somewhere along the way. Before, by the age of 21 most women could have most of their 4-year degree completed. Only time will tell but I am PASSIONATE ABOUT WOMEN GETTING THEIR EDUCATION!!! :)

Jenny said...

I was so thrilled when the age change was announced for women. It has come at a critical time for me and has strengthened my testimony.

I just sat with my two daughters ages 5 and 2 and watched the clip, crying the whole way through. Maybe they can serve for 2 years! I am not worried about them putting off their education because I see no reason for this to happen. Plain and simple, go on a mission (if you choose) and then go to the college. While I think people should not get married young, people can still go to college if they are married!!! The focus of the young women's program is also going change with the new curriculum. Hopefully now there will be less wedding dress fashion shows and letters to future husbands and more focus on gaining a testimony of Christ's church.

Geo said...

Jacob 5:6. This beauty and joy are accelerating, and will overcome. We just have to keep growing and trimming.

I'm crying with you. Sometimes watching and participating in this process are enough to burst my heart.

Carolyn said...

I hadn't thought about the education being a downside to the mission age...I definitely want my daughters to do both as well. And honestly, since a mission is uniquely a priesthood responsibility I would be fine if they chose college instead. However, I would be a big fat liar if I didn't say that I'm thrilled that they want to go on missions...they always have and this just made them more excited. I must admit I never even pondered this from a feminist point of view...just thought it was really cool, then got sorta sad thinking my kids would be leaving sooner than I thought. And I am more focused on helping them prepare spiritually for this wonderful cause then using it to further a feminist agenda. But more power to ya of that is your thing.

Jill said...

In response to "Mormon Women are 'Admired' But Still Not Equal To Men".....

The RLDS church allows women to be priests. If we start doing the same, won't we cease to be the LDS church, established in the exact same manner as it was when Christ was on the Earth?

I'm happy to hand one major responsibility over to the men - the Priesthood, that is. It's one less thing for ME to worry about. Because really, don't women do ALL THE REST. Let the men have it.

Enough already, CJane.

Ashley said...

Love you so.

Meg said...

When this announcement came out a sister in my ward declared how happy she was that this change had finally happened. She said she had been saying for years that the age for sisters should be 19. While I have no problem with someone feeling that way, it was hard to not be a bit concerned as her tone was one of, "I'm glad the church FINALLY got their act together." I served a mission 15 years ago and from as young as I can remember I knew that was what I wanted to do. It was a major life goal for me and marriage was a thing to follow it. I NEVER felt pressured to get married instead and I never felt that I wasn't just as important in spreading the gospel as the elders. Of anywhere on this planet, women of the church should feel the most valued and the most respected for who they are and the things they can contribute to the church, their homes, and to society. I am VERY concerned with some of the things you have written lately. Not from a stand point of you being wrong, but from a stand point of how you felt women were looked upon as you grew up in the church and how you feel that women are still somewhat repressed. I hope more then anything that when the church comes out with new policies - especially towards things dealing with women - that we know that it's because it's Heavenly Father's will. A woman should never base her value within or outside of the church on what they are or aren't allowed to do that is different from the men. My worth in the eyes of my Heavenly Father has nothing to do with what age He allowed me to serve a mission. I personally wouldn't have been ready at the age of 19 to serve so the 21 year old requirement was a huge sign of Heavenly Father's love for me. As you are so valiantly pushing for, women need to gain a sense of their worth from one source alone - their Heavenly Father. I have a firm belief that if that is the only source feeding how we feel about ourselves, we will always feel valued and loved and will know why things are the way we are. To think otherwise is to have a huge lack of faith in God Himself.

Rachel said...

There aren't words to explain my excitement over the age change. There are so many positive chanes that will happen in the church and I am so relieved to know they will be coming. My favorite part? The Florida Jacksonville Mission (FJM), which I returned from almost 3 years ago, is increasing the number of sister missionaries from about 20 to (are you ready for it?) 122. What?! 122!!! I might die of happiness. So much good. I hope we're all ready for it!!

Autumn in Spring said...

I love this.As a young female adult going to school at BYU, it's so refreshing to see women who believe in equality, who believe that women should find themselves and use this time to learn about the amazing things life has to offer. It's nice to see that there are women out there who feel as I do. Thank you, C.Jane.

Bev said...

Statements like this one in the link to which you were responding,help no one and do nothing to further the realistic cause. ""The church is never going to [ascribe] to a particular vision of feminism that aspires to eradicate all differences between men and women," said Terryl Givens"
"Eradicate all differences between men and women..."? How absurd. How trite. How meaningless.

doro said...

When I read this article on Jezebel the other day, I thought of you. I had just read your post on equality and was curious to hear your thoughts on this article. Your blog makes me think and gives me a new perspective and I enjoy your writing style immensely. Thank you.

Allison said...

Can I come visit and can we just sit and cry giant, grateful, pregnant tears together? As the mission calls are starting to pour in for the young women in our ward, and as my little beehives from 5yrs ago are bearing testimony about their mission preparations, I get all misty eyed and feel my heart swell.

Andrea said...

I don't find this discussion enlightening--especially the Jezebel article that was linked. First, when are we going to stop equating sameness with equality? That's so the 80s. :)

Second, changing the age requirement does not change the basic principle that active missionary service is a priesthood responsibility. I was not excited about the age change (and I'm an ardent feminist) because too many women find themselves at age 40 with 4 kids and no education and divorced. I'm worried this will exacerbate that problem.

I still plan on teaching my daughters exactly what I was already teaching them. Get as much education as possible before marriage, continue getting an education after marriage, under no circumstances drop out to "put your husband through school" (seriously, does nobody understand the doctrine on this issue??), and do not quit getting an education until you have what you need to support a family so you can face the future with confidence.

If you feel moved upon by the Spirit to go on a mission, then that is great too. However, it is not a commandment for my girls and I will not teach them that it is so they can be "equal" to their spouses. How ridiculous, rude, and demeaning to think my girls need exactly the same experiences at the same time as my sons to be their "equals."

Attaching female missionary service, at any age, to a feminist agenda is disheartening at best.

Kate said...

I was all alone when I heard the announcement and cried like a baby. Not only for the sister missionaries- but for the Elders. My oldest son could potentially get his call in High School and leave right after he graduates in five years! All of my boys ages- 13,11,9 were so excited about the change and so was I. My girls are a little to young to understand- but I am so excited for them to have the opportunity to serve. I was ready at 19- but felt like 'I had to wait'- which thankfully, I did and served in Northern Argentina- sister missionaries are awesome!!! Heck- all missionaries are awesome!! So grateful for the gospel.

Kate said...

Another thought- I agree with Meg- and it is so sad that there are those that think this is an unfortunate change. No where does it say that sisters have to serve at 19 (or at all) or that elders have to go when they are 18- it is just an opportunity for them to go a little sooner if they would like and are prepared. Serving a mission helped me personally to be a better mother & wife and feel more confident about the gospel- that is not to say that to gain that confidence you have to serve a mission- but for me that was the case. And for my daughters- that will be their own choice to make- and either way they will not be less than. We need to stop putting what's perfect and what's not into a 'box' - we are all different- have different perspectives, experiences, etc. I think we all have our unique circumstances- whether it be in our families, marriages, choices whether to go on missions- etc. We can learn from each other- but shouldn't judge about individual choices.

colbyjay said...

Court (I can call you that, right? We've been through alot of the same stuff so I think that makes us soul sister of some sort- Soul Sisters of Suffering):

When Prop 8 went down in CA, I was shocked out of my comfortable and limited beliefs that although the church hadn't really come out recently with a stance on why people are gay, and although many members were passionate and often hostile about what THEY thought it all meant, I knew that God loved my brother and that he was born that way. Prop 8 made me take something that I had put on a shelf way up high, to ask about at some later time in my immortality, and make a DECISION on it. And the church, and all its members around me were telling me (no forcing me) to choose their way. I didn't feel comfortable about it, but I let my confusion make me weak and I ended up voting against my heart.

This was bad, very bad. It led to a terrible faith crisis where I was in the literal dark for a very long time. I had lost my purpose, my sense of belonging with my people, and I almost lost my very soul. But then I was literally plucked out of the mire by God and shown the light once more. But I was taught that my newfound faith came at a cost- patience. I could never again let my impatience and desires for everything to make sense right now- overshadow my deepest, most basic convictions. Those had to be enough and I had to wait on the Lord.

I love this post because it seems that this is what you're touting. However, I want to hear more conviction in the determination that you can hold out- that you can be a minority within your culture, that you can tune out the voices and stick to YOUR truths, never losing sight of them. That you can be patient even when it seems like change must happen right now!

I will be strong if you will too. We all need to rely on each other through this process. But you're not alone in your struggles.

Rachel Teran said...

I think that as women, we become too focused on equality, that we lose sight of what is truly important. Heavenly Father loves each of us equally. We have different roles. The Priesthood is important, yes. But so is motherhood. So is bearing and raising children. Yes, social status and church leadership is important -- but not the most. Everything is how it is for a reason, and I believe that everything said by the Prophet and Apostles are what the Lord wants said, and how things are done is how the Lord sees fit to be done. That is where faith comes in. Being a woman is a wonderful, beautiful, incredible privilege. How could we complain that we don't get enough when we are given so much?

Tracie said...

AMEN!!! I am so fascinated by women's stories and I think reading yours here has made me hungry for more, want to write my own 3 generation one like Sis. Bushman said over at MormonStories. I'm new to that site, but devouring women's stories there to find voices that resonate with me. These announcements have meant so much and it's just a great time to be doing our parts. It's interesting to see my youngest sister ponder this for herself. I hope we don't put undue pressure on these young ladies in our rapturous excitement and respect the choices they make. It's just so great that they have one more great opportunity to choose from and hopefully it helps all of us step up our efforts to assist youth to be prepared to serve earlier. AWESOME STUFF!

Charity Suzuki said...

I am not a Mormon so i can't speak to that.

I am a Christian and have found this type of thought process throughout all sects of Christianity.

Love, honor and obey weren't in the old vows for nothing.

It's refreshing to see women in all religions looking for reform and change. :)

Mel said...

I have a boy out there now. I'd be happy to have him home 6 months sooner. How about if EVERYONE serves 18 months? Maybe that's next up on the list.

vintageblueballoon said...

I totally agree 100%. It amazes me that as young women we can be so blinded with find a "return missionary" to marry. Those missionaries more often than not come home completely crazy and these poor young girls lean on them for spiritual guidance instead of themselves.

I know we will see a drastic decrease in divorces. Yay for young women! I married at 19 years old I am turning 27 and carrying my 4th baby. I am so grateful that at such a young age I picked the right guy to marry. He is amazing! I know I would have served a mission if the age requirement was dropped back then and I know that my spouse would have waited.

Women should not rely on their spouse for a spiritual guide. They together should equal walk the path. I am so grateful for this! Tanks for writing this post

Me said...

I was NEVER supposed to serve a mission. I've had former sister missionaries, when I have honestly told them that the Lord's answer to me was "NO!", and that I was to complete school (which, I later went on to complete a PhD--and everyday complete the "life" mission the Lord has given me)--I've had former sister missionaries literally tell me that "If I had wanted to serve a mission, the answer would have been yes". NO_-the ANSWER WAS NO!! I even fell to my knees, while experiencing HORRIBLE judgement and treatment by young men and former sister missionaries (or young sisters who wanted to serve missions and saw me as evil for feeling differently) at 20 and 21, and told the Lord I would go if He wanted me to. HE DID NOT WANT ME TO GO!!! Nor does He want every young woman to go. Neither does every young man go. Some have health problems that stop them from serving typical full time missions. Others join the armed services. My brother-in-law did not serve a mission because he was helping to raise his niece and supporting his mother and niece!!! My point--I respect the desire so many, in particular, sisters have to serve missions. But--as I told many of the young sisters I know--the general authorities have stated you CAN go at 19--not you HAVE to go--you don't HAVE to go at ALL. And--18 year old boys are only for those truly ready to go. It is NOT a requirement to go at 18. If anything, what I hope and pray will happen with these age changes is that it will shake up the judgemental and horrible part of the culture of the Church, where those who do not fit the "norm" are viewed as less than, and treated often horribly, by other supposedly "perfect" Mormons. As a mid-single educated woman--I can stand and testify that the "traditions" within our culture NEED to change!!! Girls will still get married young--cause not all of them will serve missions. But--some young women WILL stay home, go to school, work, take care of their families, etc and NOT serve missions at 19 or ever. This does not mean that they do not play a VERY important role in the Church, and more importantly--in the mission of the Lord's Gospel!!! So=--I reminded the excited sisters to pray and truly listen. The answer may be yes, and it may not be yes. It may be wait. They may never go--or they may go. But, the answer should come from the Lord, NOT from peer pressure, or the fear of not being accepted by others in their lives!!!!

Liz said...

The Lord's plan and His gospel is perfect. Women and men are loved perfectly in it. I think the changes that need to happen (and they do need to happen!) have to come from within us, and thus within our culture, before they can come in the organizations. I think we are held back by "Mormon culture" and thus by individuals in it, much more than we are held back by church structure and definitely by the gospel.

The Monroes said...

It's not that I don't agree with almost everything you are saying, Courtney. I do. Although the concept of equality makes me grind my teeth. How many men do we see striving to be " equal" to women? It's as if we; as women, , have embraced this idea that men have set the bar for a life and choices worth emulating and striving to equal. Anyway, what I am about to say is super prideful and self righteous.. Just a warning!! I feel like there is a room, probably out on the terrace of the great and spacious building, for people who have the whole " oh yay, the church is finally getting it right" mindset. The ones with just a hint of smugness in their tone and long suffering sighs for their less enlightened fellow members. God's greatest gift is free agency, if you don't think the church is led by God and his inspired prophets- if you think they are "behind the times" , why stay?

shelly said...

I'd love to show my YW leaders the video clip you have. Is there a way to do this?

The Atomic Mom said...

I might be in the minority among your readers, but having served a mission myself, I was happy to be done at 18 months. I was totally spent, falling apart, not to mention all of my clothes were thread bear as well. Who cares that sisters serve for 18 months? It just seems like something so small to quibble over.

That said, I would just like to say that I do believe men and women are equal in the Church. I know many women don't feel that way -- but when it comes to the things that save us, like ordinances women and men get the same ordinances administered the same way. Ff there have been mistakes made by the brothers of our faith, it's been human error, not divine error. I've had my fair share of dorky bishops who have done stupid and offensive things, however, it's because they were fallable not because they were trying to oppress me.

Finally, I think it's best to ignore blogs like Jezebel. Someone said it here in the comments, but they for for snark instead of real dialog.

Finally, finally, I have a very frim testimony of what Elder Holland said in the press conf after the session where the announcement was made, that the Lord is hastening his work. If that's the case, of course he needs more people out there. This change will give more girls the chance to serve, but will also, I think help more boys to serve as well. I wonder how many boys are "lost" in that gap between 18 and 19?

Rebecca said...

I was thrilled with the announcement because it gives young men & young women more choices in that crucial young adult period.

Instead of asking why women can't serve 24 months like the men, maybe we could take it as a compliment. Maybe we only need 18 months to learn & grow like the Lord needs us to, whereas young men need a little longer. We have sister missionaries serving in our ward right now and they are waaaaaaaaay more effective than the elders were. I mean, love those elders, but something about it not being required for women means the sisters there are overall more excited & dedicated. I can't wait to see what happens in the next couple years!

Adam and Elissa said...

I agree with Atomic Mom - I was exhausted at 18 months. Loved my mission and cried the whole way home on the plane but I was so physically exhausted I knew it was time to finish.

I was also very excited about the age drop as I see it as a better chance for women to get to serve. Not because they get married too young but easier to get both a degree and a mission. My daughter has always wanted to serve but trying to see how she can do a law degree and a mission she knew it would be hard. Now it fits in like a "Gap"year.

I am confused about all the talk about equality. Equality does not mean same. I have read a lot of what was read here and on other BLOGS (including Jezebel - that was a waste of time) and I think it has more to do with your Utah culture than church. I have spent all of my life outside of USA in places where the church is very small and I have never felt not equal.

I am a mother and work full time (as a Finance Manager - not very maternal)and have never been looked down on at church. My husband was Bishop and I never felt that he was more important than me. I did take many years off to look after my children while they were young and never felt a lesser person because of it. As a sister missionary I never held any "positions" while serving - but great I got to be a missionary rather than worry about the stat's and other missionaries.

If you don't feel equal it is because you let other people make you feel like that. Being the same does not make us equal.

The Christexans said...

I grew up LDS outside of Utah, with parents who preached equality alongside the gospel. I heard echoes of those who believed that girls serving missions wasn't appropriate-but even twenty years ago thought surely they are not living in the present. I went to BYU unmarried, and left Utah. I am always shocked when I read your posts about feeling such pressure to marry young. I was shocked that you have heard resistance about girls going on missions. Who are these people? Quit listening to them and maybe you should quit looking at them. My LDS reality has been very very different.

Mathilde Inge said...

I am 50 and have seen so many positive steps forward, baby steps but definitely foward motion. I hope that I have made good choices that have helped this movement. Our daughters should be taught that they are capable of anything. The world will continue to evolve slowly but surely.. Amen

C. Jane said...

I found the video of the sister missionaries on facebook. There are share/embed buttons below the video.

Called to Serve

Lauren said...

I have been a member of the LDS church my whole life and absolutely adorethe gospel. I appreciated your post and the comments so far but just wanted to add my take on it. I am not married but I work full time as a lawyer. I find the suggestions that the church in anyway treats women less equal to men to be quite hurtful. Men can't have children, never ever ever, we can. So why on earth would we ever try to compare equality to mean sameness between us - it will never be possible because we are so different. If ever women do appear to be treated differently to men, don't we think maybe it's because that's whats best for us. And if we trust in our prophets and leaders, then we trust they're doing what's right. To say the church is progressing with modern times suggests the church is fashionable and impressioned by the world. I like to believe it's not - God is unchanging. I remember when I was younger attending firesides where the prophet told girls to get as much education as they can, so I did. Any suggestion that they church doesn't encourage girls to do this lacks in depth study of modern guidance and revelation. Are we taught that being a mother is superior to all things - yes, we are. I think any attitude that the church is outdated or treats women inferior lies more with cultural attitudes and customs rather than religious doctrine. Girls going on missions younger doesn't grant us equality and show the church is now respecting girls more, to me. It just means the needs of our circumstances are changing. To try and turn this into a speech about equality and hoping the church progresses further makes me feel like we are in some way belittling and criticising the decisions our inspired leaders make. I love being an lds woman and I love and am so grateful for the validation, encouragement and love that the church leaders show to me.

Marlise said...

VERY WELL SAID, Lauren. Thank you. I agree--as a member of the church (and a returned missionary), I believe it comes down to whether or not we believe and support the prophet as called of God. It had nothing to do with opinions of equality or trends or "progression", as if our leaders are outdated. They are not. They are called of God, and lead by HIS direction. By attaching our own interpretation, we are hypothesizing and acting as if we know better than our loving and all-knowing Father in Heaven. His ways are not our ways. His understanding, acceptance, and love far surpass our own.

Michelle said...

Yes, THANK YOU Meg, Andrea, Marlise & others. You've said it better than I can. Changes in the church have nothing to do with people requesting change. It has everything to do with our Heavenly Father knowing what is best for us, and having a plan for us.

Creole, I agree with you that a lot can happen between the ages of 19-25. I just want to clear a few things up up because they are common misconceptions. (And unfortunately with CJane's blog being as popular as it is, people get the wrong impressions. She is 1 person. Talking about her own experience. She certainly doesn't speak for the rest of us). As a church, there is nothing in our doctrine that encourages girls to marry young. There is nothing in our Sunday lessons that says, "Girls, you better be married by the time you're 22 or else we'll all look down on you." This is unfortunately very cultural (and I believe limited to certain areas). I grew up in Texas and did not experience this whatsoever. In fact, I felt, and still feel, very empowered by my faith and knowledge in the Gospel and in being a woman who is valued by my Heavenly Father. CJane grew up in Utah and has shared that she felt this pressure. Young marriage in the church has nothing to do with being good/righteous/accepted/validated. It is a choice we make. I was married at barely 20, and it was completely my decision. I think my parents, and especially older brother, would have liked me to wait until I was older. However, I said my own prayers and knew it was right for me. Not because I felt pressure from the people I saw at church every Sunday. As mentioned by others here, the power to choose is one of the biggest principals in our church.

I am a fan of statistics. I am curious, however, what the divorce statistic is for couples in the church who get married young. It might be the same, but I am curious.

The LDS girls who choose not to marry are just as valued as every other woman in the church. There are a couple single woman, around age 40, that I see every Sunday. They have so many qualities that I admire and look up to. They are happy, and have held many leadership positions (not that that last part matters, just sharing). I have heard them bear testimony of the love they feel from their Heavenly Father. He loves all of us equally.

I hope this clears up some of your concerns. I don't write as beautifully as others, so I'm sorry if I came across as too harsh or brash. :)

Me said...

Please DO NOT assume that "LDS girls who choose to not get married" means that many of these women actually got a choice. I am a single mid-single, and I was NEVER given any other option than being single. It is a stupid assumption to even think that all women have been provided such options (and all men). If one has never been provided the option to get married, than one certainly did not "choose" their circumstances--although they can "choose" how to handle their circumstances!!! I must admit, at the Spring General Conference, I was quite concerned when one of the general authorities warned young women about choosing a career "above" marriage--just because I've dealt with the automatic LDS assumption in and out of Utah--that ALL women in the LDS church are provided with marriage options. I, for one, has NEVER been provided such an option--and find it repulsive that people assume in the Church that because you were able to get married, that it happens for everyone. It does not!!! I had to add that because of some of the comments people are making with the assumptions that all women (and men) have actually been provided with such options and choices!!!!

Michelle said...

I am so sorry! I didn't read-over that part and I completely agree with you. I think when I wrote it I was referring back to what Creole said and she used the word "choose" so that's what I went off of. I shouldn't have said that they chose not to. I have no idea what choices they've had to make and I don't know them on that level. I really am sorry. Just because a woman isn't married doesn't mean she chose it. Thank you for pointing that out.

vintageblueballoon said...

I wrote earlier about young women in the church getting married young. Clarification, I didn't feel any pressure from the church to marry young (married at 19) it just happened and was the best decision I have ever made.

Having said that, there are many young women who marry for the "fairy tale" it's far from a fairy tale. I have seen so many girls that I grew up with think that if they get married their problems are over, oh! And if its a return missionary then everything will be perfect. This seems to be a recurring problem. The divorce statistics in the church are alarming.

Maybe, just maybe, with this age requirement being lowered we will see that women's sights will change on who they marry, a lot can change in 18 months.

I also have never felt "not equal" to the men in our church and honestly don't think it's a healthy mindset to have when you are constantly comparing apples to oranges. We will always be different that's what makes us work so well! I love being a woman in our church. It's stinking hard but so rewarding. How you see yourself in God,s eyes is all that should matter. I love how God sees me.

Abi from Australia said...

Cjane, I love your blog. You are such a wonderful writer and I appreciate your courage and honesty in sharing your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and growth. I love how your blog makes me think and evaluate my own standpoint on things.

I think it's wonderful that the age has been lowered for both boys and girls wanting to serve a mission. I also think that people have a tendency to read too much into such announcements. For those of us who are members of the church, I feel that we need to trust that the Lord is at the helm, and this is HIS work. We also need to relax a little bit when we witness the human element that is mixed with the divine (I mean within the church). God is perfect, man is imperfect, so wherever people are involved, that imperfection will be seen and felt. Ultimately, it all boils down to our testimony and those eternal principles of truth that resonate within our hearts. The rest (such as cultural expectations or norms, social pressures etc.), while it can be challenging and confronting, is of lesser import. We all have our agency, we have the God-given gift of being able to choose how we live our lives, and how we react to the challenges we are faced with. We are also encouraged to make our relationship with our Heavenly Father the number one priority in our lives. He can help us through anything. He can even help us make sense of all this stuff.

With regard to feminism and women in the gospel, I have never felt that I was less than a man because I was born female. My experience was vastly different from Cjane's (it saddens me that you were subjected to such an experience!). I grew up feeling that I was every bit as important, valued, special, worthy as my male counterparts. That I had just as much to contribute, that God loved me just as much and that I was needed just as much as the boys were. I have no problem with men holding the priesthood and women not holding it. Different responsibilities does not mean that one is valued above the other. Men and women are different and complementary, that's why we need each other. Everybody has their part to play, everybody matters equally to God and our input is just as important.

Oh there's so much I want to say but my kids are tearing my house apart as I type…

Please keep on writing Cjane!! You are a brave, talented and lovely lady.

lindsay said...

Honestly, I've been frustrated at this awesome news being turned into a feminism "high-5". Statistically the church has been losing membership among youth between high school and mission age at an alarming rate. I'd be more inclined to believe that The Lord is asking more of the young people so they will rise up and not fade away. I'd be more inclined to believe that The Lord wants more missionaries around the world, both men and women. I'm sure anyone would agree with those points, but instead of getting caught up in details where men and women are not the same, and making this a gender-equality issue, lets "hoorah!" to ALL the missionaries sacrificing for The Lord. They are so needed. It really is exciting news!!

Carissa and Jeff said...

Hi Cjane. I really enjoy reading your blog and you are a wonderful writer. I must admit that I don't agree with a lot of what you say, but I appreciate that you are always respectful. I also find you strangely fascinating because your opinions often differ from my own and your experiences and your reactions to them are also so polar opposite from my own. My favorite part of your blog is the comments. I find it so interesting to read the varied opinions.

That being said...

I personally believe that the age requirements for missions are inspired and that the church (lds culture is a different thing) doesn't need to "catch up to the times" as so many comments have suggested. I believe that God had a purpose in allowing young men to serve at 19 and young women to serve at 21. I don't believe sexism was a part of that purpose.

I dated my husband for a year and a half and waited three years before having children. I admit, I was at times judged for those decisions. However, more often than not, I had people take me aside and tell me (while rolling their eyes) about so-and-so who got engaged after only knowing their fiance for three weeks or about how some couples have children so fast that they don't take the time to get to know each other. Those remarks always made me uncomfortable. Some of the comments to this post that suggest it is wrong to marry young or delay one's own schooling for one's husband's seem a little judgmental. How is it possible to know what's right or wrong for anyone's life but your own? Everyone is entitled to their own specific personal revelation.

As for lds divorce statistics, I found this gem while writing a talk a few weeks ago. It's from the lds newsroom but I don't have the exact location of where I got it from.

According to research cited in a 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times, “in an era of divorce, Mormon temple weddings are built to last,” with only a 6 percent divorce rate. Another study, published in 1993 in Demography Magazine, concluded that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who marry in one of the Church's temples are the least likely of all Americans to divorce.

To be fair, maybe things have changed with lds temple marriages in the last 12 years?

Sage said...

Look on ldsliving.com. I watched it earlier. Spectacular!

Jillian R said...

Although I do not have the same opinions as you I admire your tone of respect that others don't always use.
There is just one thing I am a little confused on. You had a link to the new website Mormons and Gays in which the link said the church is saying being Gay is not a choice. I'm not sure what you mean by that. That the church now has a stance on Nature vs nurture? because they don't. And the website does not mean that their stance has changed. I'm not saying I believe one way or the other, i just think that what you wrote is kind of misleading. The church is against gay marriage but not equal rights for gays and they do NOT say nature or nurture. This IS such a great website to get people talking about these 'taboo' things, but I feel your comment was misleading about the church's belief on that nature vs. nurture issue. If that is what you were referring to. Elder Christopherson even says in his first video how some of the experience shared seem to coincide with church beliefs and some don't but the purpose of the website is to get people talking in a civilized manner.
Thanks!