Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Worst Thing Is Pants Part II

Because I'm a masochist.

Yesterday another text came from another sister. This time it was Page and it accompanied this picture of her and her two oldest girls Olivia (17yrs) and Emma (15yrs) at lunch together:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Happy 12/12/12! My girls and I are wondering if you are wearing pants to church on Sunday?

And I replied: I just wrote about this on my blog! Are you wearing pants to church on Sunday?

Page replied: We are talking/praying about it.

Isn't that a great response?

Last night Anson requested a drive to look at Christmas lights. It's sorta our thing, we get the kids in their pjs, wrap them up in flannel baby blankets made by Grandma Kendrick, and we drive around listening to COZY 106.5 looking at the lights. I had no idea how much they'd love it. When Ever sees a display that pleases her corneas she goes nuts! And exclaims in a weird human goat voice,


Sometimes, when she's really pleased she says,


Anyway, as we were driving around last night I kept thinking about some scriptures in the Book of Mormon, you know, like I ALWAYS do. In particular I was thinking about when Alma invites his followers into the waters of baptism by asking them if they are ready to join with the saints in being "willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." (Mosiah 18:8-9) And I also thought about Moroni talking about the church of Christ he says, "And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus." (Mormon 6:5-5)

It seems to me, with those scriptures combined, that saints of God have a charge to show our vulnerabilities,  our mournings, our places of empty comfort, even the very welfare of our souls. And perhaps, it is the very point of church attendance to show up ready to admit humility and weakness and together we take the sacrament, promising to love the Savior and take care of one another like He has asked of us.

I often think about a man I knew in my ward who I held up to impossible expectations. He seemed so perfect, so obedient, so zealous to do what was right. In fact, to be honest, sometimes Chup and I would say of him, we want to be good, but not THAT good. One time during Sunday School, while juggling a baby and a toddler on his lap he raised his hand and talked about his addiction to pornography. My small, narrow-mind about exploded. And I couldn't have loved him more from that point on.

I guess this is all to say, that this pants thing? It's not about the pants. Women can wear whatever they want to church. I suppose it's a gesture of showing up with vulnerability. It's a way women, in solidarity, can come to church with their hearts on their sleeves. Not so much a protest but a peaceable way to say, "I have mourned/I am mourning", "I have burdens that weigh heavy on me." And maybe we don't all share those specific burdens, but let's be human about this, we ALL have something that has hurt us. We all have a burden, we all are mourning. Like Christ, we have these emotions so that we can understand each other and apply compassion.

(And for the record: I, C. Jane Kendrick am not the light on the hill when it comes to this virtue.)

Can we show up without the pants? Can we show up and just confess our hearts? Yes of course! But perhaps we underestimate how scary this can be for some of us. We love our church and we love our fellow saints and we don't want to be perceived as apostate. And sometimes when you've lived a life of gender inequality your voice sounds so little in your head, so tiny and crackly, you'd rather wear pants than use the strength of your lungs to force words out of you.

But maybe, in the future, with enough good experiences, that voice will emerge, booming and strong.

You haven't experienced the pain of not seeing more women speaking/praying at General Conference? Great! Can you use the power of the Holy Ghost to reach into your well of empathy and show understanding for those who do? You don't know what it has felt like to be belittled because you are a woman? Then surely you will have the strength to help wrap your arms around a sister who experiences this daily. You don't understand any of this? Look for the woman wearing pants for the first time on Sunday and ask her to tell her story, take her burdens and help lift them for awhile. This actual makes charity quite easy. And charity, as well all know NEVER FAILS.

I keep thinking about Christ coming to the people of the Book of Mormon, the first thing he does is shows his people the scars on his hands and feet. After he heals them--with those scarred hands--he blesses them and later offers them the sacrament. Following the pattern of Christ, I do think showing up with our scars to church to be healed and heard, to renew our love of God, is very much reverent and very sacred.

It's not a protest, it's an outreach. And if by chance my nieces pray about it or your neighbor prays about it and the answer they receive is, "Yes, wear pants on Sunday" then who am I, or who are you, to say it's not a valid answer to prayers? Our only option at that point is to put our arms around these women and girls to say, Here I am. I see you. Let's take the sacrament together and promise to do better.

It's about our hearts. It's not about the pants.