Empowering Women God’s Way

Posted on August 1, 2012

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As I watch my daughters grow into women, a yearning grows more insistent daily that they will know the power they have. I want great things for them.

I want them to be free. I want them to be happy. I want them to be smart, and courageous, and kind. I also want them to be resilient, unintimidated by the difficulties they will face, difficulties that are often unique to women. I want them to feel confident in their knowledge, abilities, and relationships. I want them to learn how to learn why they’re here and what they’ve agreed to do and I want them to know how to discover if they’re successful. I want them to know the power they have to do all of that.

In contemplating what would make this possible for them, it has occurred to me that the most important thing they need is to know how to receive revelation. If they are connected to God, all that I want for them will flow naturally to them. So how do they connect to God most effectively? In church? Through a Sunday School teacher? Through Young Women leaders? Through the bishop? Through me?

I’ve been doing this church thing long enough to realize that at best, we reach people only marginally through regular involvement in the official structure of the kingdom or even the structure of our family, though those structures serve to create havens of peace for other, more effective activities. What really creates power occurs personally in a very Alma 32 experiment. If what we study, pray about, act upon, and evaluate in our experience with God leads us to him, we grow more skilled in the language of revelation. If we do not do those things, it’s often less important what other things we’re doing.

I recently wrote about an upcoming book, The Beginning of Better Days (which releases tomorrow from Deseret Book). Since then a publicist has contacted me to offer a copy for review. Over the past few days I’ve devoured the book, and though it’s small and just over a hundred twenty pages, I think it may be one of the most useful books published of late for women who want to embrace a real road to revelation.

How in the world could a book accomplish that?

It begins with an essay by Virginia Hinckley Pearce in which she describes a bit of her journey. Mentoring, even through reading a stranger’s story, is an effective beginning for most of us. Her observations about how the temple is inseparable from the work of Relief Society (God’s covenant organization for engaging the divine in women) both in Joseph’s day and in ours, were compelling and poignant. Her insights were often profound, but even more important was her story of her journey. We miss everything if we miss that we cannot gain what she has without doing something like she’s done; there is no shortcut to the spirit of prophecy that we can pick up painlessly from her words. There is, however, hope for all of us.

Sheri Dew’s essay is structured quite differently, travelling through a number of issues women face, sprinkled liberally with her personal experience and quotes from other leaders. It will be compelling for an entirely different group of people, though she also confirms the central place of the temple in this road to revelation. She teases out some crucial issues, like priesthood keys, that Joseph discusses with the Nauvoo sisters but which could be confusing for the casual modern reader. For instance, in clarifying that the concept of priesthood keys also includes “keys of knowledge, intelligence, and power obtained in the temple” (p. 47, advance reader’s edition),  Dew adds depth to the words of the Prophet that “the keys of the kingdom are about to be given them, that they may be able to detect every thing false” (April 28, 1842 Minutes). This knowledge, ability, and confidence may be the most important development of mortal life, for men and for women.

Following their thoughts are excerpts of the Minutes, carefully preserved by Eliza Snow, of the six Relief Society meetings Joseph Smith directly addressed. His words constitute an original source as valuable as scripture itself and unique in modern scripture in that it is entirely focused on women: what the kingdom offers them and what they can contribute in return. Combined with the inestimably valuable work of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, which places at the disposal of people worldwide the original source material of the latter-day kingdom-building he began, this book brings to women everywhere the prophetic presence that makes possible beginning that road of personal revelation.

Primary sources, and a primer for how to engage them. With the patterns of study and faith offered, any woman can receive the power of the priesthood, and with it the ministering of angels and the presence of God.

This is the thing I want most for my daughters. The journey is theirs to embrace or not, but the pattern is a pearl of great price. When it goes on sale tomorrow, you might want to check it out.

Cross-posted at Wheat & Tares.

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