Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Far above rubies

Yes, I'm still alive. I haven't had the desire to post anything for almost a year. Until today. And I want to talk about gender today.

In my Pen and the Sword class last semester at BYU, we were talking about gender distinctions (which was nothing unusual in that delightful course) and social perspectives on gender. As a part of his commet, one diplomatic young man said, "There are things women do that men can't do, and there are things men can do that women--" He stopped abruptly and plowed onward to his next thought. But I was rattled. I had mentally nodded in agreement with the first part of his comment, the admission of women's power to do things men were unable to do. But I felt my hackles rise in anticipation of what he'd almost said next. But why? Why could he not say that men can do things that women cannot? What kind of social boundary in our culture forbids that? Is Mormon feminism still so new that the fervor of newfound social power hasn't died down enough for women to settle in their rightful place beside their male counterparts rather than projecting themselves as far above?

This comment was made months ago and I still think about it. So today, I want to write on manhood. As Mormon women--maybe I'm the only one with this opinion, but I've a hunch I'm not--I think we often overlook the divinity of man in order to emphasize that of women. And that makes sense in a way; historically, women have been socially and culturally downplayed and ushered into the background. It is the exception rather than the norm for a woman to be named and discussed in holy writ. "Influential women in history" returns many google search results with the same phrase; "influential men in history" returns results like "Top 100 Most Influential Historical Figures" and "The World's Most Influential Persons," as if it is extra-notable when a woman is particularly influential as opposed to when a man is. But we can go too far in our emphasis; we need to make sure not to overshoot in our attempts to re-balance the scales.

I digress. The divinity of men. I want to copy what a friend of mine posted to Facebook recently. Here is part of what she wrote: 

"A co-worker of mine yesterday mentioned how in Young Men's all he ever learned was how amazing women are and how he could never measure up. I just want all the guys out there to know that you DO measure up. We girls aren't dumb enough to like someone because they are less than us; we like guys because they are our EQUALS, if not our superiors."

It's so true. I admire so much the young men I know who are quietly obedient to those with authority over them, yet know how to stand up and lead when it falls to them. I have known the peace of being surrounded by worthy priesthood holders who know who they are and where they are going.

I have written before about the importance of confidence before. Here I want to reiterate that belief. Faith and fear cannot coexist. Confidence is one manifestation of faith. I am inspired by the confident, humble men in my life. And it's interesting that the two traits seem to go together. When someone comes to an understanding of who they are in the scheme of God's Plan of Salvation, the confidence that follows faith rises and solidifies his character. But with that comprehension inevitably comes humility when it is understood how great and beyond us the Plan really is. There are many beautiful, inspiring things about a righteous man, but this confidence combined with humility is the most admirable, attractive aspect I've found yet.

This last semester, I had the pleasure of meeting tons of young men in my classes and at work and in my student ward. It meant a lot to me when my roommates and I would get a visit from a troubled young lady needing comfort to be able to call up a couple of these young men to give her a blessing. It means a lot to me to be able to go to the temple and see several friends from school, all choosing to sacrifice time for the Lord instead of partying or gaming or even working on one of the last days before they return to school. And I am so, so proud when I see my brothers performing the Sacrament ordinance at church every week. It means so much to me to know that I have worthy brothers.

May I take some scriptoral liberties? Proverbs 31 is often quoted in reference to praising the worth of women. I'd like to submit that men ought to be praised in the same way. 
"Who can find a virtuous [man]? for [his] price is far above rubies."
I am thankful for the examples of strong, confident, humble righteousness I have in my male friends and acquaintances.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Comings and goings and things in between

I'm feeling a little nostalgic. Today, I got one of my best friends back. Let me tell you, the reunion was a happy one, involving homemade bread, a demonic cat, and mud. Seeing a face you love after a long time of being without it is very renewing. Being without this precious girl for so long taught me a lot about myself and growing up. But, all things I've learned aside, I'm dang glad she's home. And I plan on keeping her on this continent for a long time.

At the same time, I said goodbye to another friend today, one I've known for a long time but have only truly gotten to know in the past year. Missions are inspired, Reader. I believe with all my heart in the work those young men and women do. I plan to be one of them someday. But realizing that you aren't going to see someone you love for a couple years...well, it's jarring. (Sheesh, this is dangerous. I'm talking to you like I talk with my journal.) 

But I want to tell you something. A mission has more purpose than racking up the baptisms. A mission is about furthering the work of our Heavenly Father. If a mission is used spending your time serving and loving people or even helping companions to grow and understand who they are, it is just as successful as a dozen baptisms. The gospel is about love, not numbers.

 D&C 18:15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

You know something about that scripture? That one soul could be yourself.

Friends are wonderful. Love is central. God is good. Life is special. Stopping to think (and subsequently knock out a blog post) can be invaluable. Thanks for listening, Reader.

Photo by Cliff Gull

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Was anyone expecting this?

Yes, yes, I know it's Easter, and everyone ought to be expecting an announcement about a new toothbrush, as it is family tradition to receive brand spanking new toothbrushes from the Spring Bunny. I'm sorry to disappoint you folks, but our Pagan Fertility Festival celebrations yesterday were unconventional. We had a Hunger Games egg hunt that can hardly be expected to follow our normal traditions.

But don't mope in disappointment yet. I may not have gotten a new toothbrush, but I started on a new toothpaste tube. It's not ADA approved, which isn't usually my thing. It tastes suspiciously like cheap peppermint and plaster. Yet some misunderstood, understated part of me sort of likes it. I may keep it around and I may let my prejudices and desire for assured personal health get the better of me. But I think I'll give it a chance, at least for a little while.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Conundrum of Self

Somehow, it feels like it's time to make choices now. Time to grow up. Time to settle on a future and dedicate yourself to it.

It's really hard when you absolutely love each of your options.

So...what now?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Peanut Breath

Have you ever noticed the dusty wisp that rises out of a peanut shell when it first cracks open?

Do you ever catch your face contorting like a mirror when you see someone expressing emotion on a movie?

Did you ever thank the person who taught you to read?

Have you ever wondered how your heart knows to quicken when that special someone smiles at you?

Did you try to lick your elbow that first time you heard that statistic about how many people can do it?

Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?

Have you ever felt like you’re not alone when you’re the only person around?

Have you ever picked a flower clean of its petals while muttering, “He loves me, he loves me not,” even when you knew the answer?

Do you ever wish you understood more?

Do you ever wish you didn’t know all that you do?

Have you ever wondered whether the colors other people see are the same as the ones you perceive?

Have you ever paused long enough to close your eyes and listen to your own heartbeat?

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Are you Esh's sister?!"

I'm finding myself unable to focus on anything remotely responsible and productive, so why not write a blog post to purge myself of this unproductive humor? Don't answer that. Reasons would be, "You aren't finished with your Sterling Schols portfolio!" and "You have a quiz on the non-cyclic electron flow of light reactions tomorrow and you don't even know what that means!" and "You're in a play that opens in two weeks and you're not quite memorized!" etc, etc, etc. But that's why we're not going to answer that question.

So there's just one thing. Little brothers. That's right. Yesterday, I was informed, "Miriam, no matter how hard you try, you will never be as cool as your brother." I knew it in my heart of hearts before, but now it's crawled its way to the surface. None of my siblings knew--or cared to know--a lick of Spanish when I took Spanish classes, but my entire family wants to learn German when he studies German. People will come up to me in the halls and ask if Esh is my brother and I'll say he is, at which they'll wander away with a hazed grin and a distant gleam in their eyes. So it's true, world. I'm no longer fighting it. I will never be as cool as Esh.

Heh. He'll probably kill me for posting that link. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sometimes I Impress Myself

I was doing homework and snacking on carrots (Oddette's influence on me). As I was typing, I glanced down at the vegetable in my hand.

I used to like sculpting carrots with my teeth while I watched movies, but I've never done it without realizing before.