Today, my feelings changed.
I have never been particularly concerned about what it meant to be a woman. I loved the Young Women's organization but was excited to be a member of the Relief Society where I could mingle with woman of all ages and learn from their wisdom. I knew that I had a lot to learn from such amazing women, women I wanted to be like - but if you had asked me what it meant to be a woman I wouldn't have been able to tell you. I may have said something involving service and motherhood and Relief Society, but I doubt I would have said anything about the priesthood, and I probably wouldn't have said anything about Heavenly Mother (although I was firmly convinced of her existence and love for me - as a lover of the hymns, my favorite lines of "O, My Father" are the ones that mention her - "Truth is reason, truth, eternal, tells me I've a mother there" and "Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?").
Then the Relief Society published the book Daughters in My Kingdom. At first I didn't read it. In fact, I only briefly leafed through the pages. I was a busy mother of small children, and reading a book about the Relief Society didn't really interest me at the time.
But then something stirred in me.
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Then I started searching for blogs for LDS Women. I eventually found and fell in love with Heather's blog, Women in the Scriptures, among others, but in my searching I also stumbled across some not-quite-what-I-was-looking for blogs. Like Feminist Mormon Housewives, and Mormon Mommy Wars, to name a few. As I read what other women were writing I realized that there were women who didn't understand what it meant to be a woman in the Church, and I found myself wondering if I really knew what it meant.
That was when something stirred in me.
I wanted to know, really know, what it meant to be a woman, a daughter of God. I knew what it meant to be a mother - I had been preparing for that my entire life. But I wasn't sure I knew what it meant to be a woman.
About the same time I was going through this quest for an understanding of womanhood, the Mormon feminist movement gained momentum. I am pretty sure a large part of that was fueled by questions about Mormonism surrounding the United States presidential primaries, since one of the most likely candidates was a Mormon. But every time I turned around, people were talking to women like Joanna Brooks - disillusioned, non-practicing Mormon women who had been hurt and oppressed by unrighteous men in their lives, and were taking out their frustration and anger on the Church. I became increasingly frustrated and annoyed with their presence in the media and their criticism of Church leaders. Where were the women like me?
Over the past few years I have learned a lot about what it means to be a woman. Most of my new understand has come, ironically, through discussion and articles prompted by the Mormon feminist movement. Today I realized that most of the things that I have learned and the perspectives I have gained I can attribute directly to the Mormon feminist movement - either because something they said prompted my own fierce studying of a topic, or because of the responses of other women who understand what it means to be a woman.
So, in hindsight, I am grateful for all the feminist commotion because of the things I never would have known.
Have you learned things because of something that originally annoyed or frustrated you? Has someone else's questions or concerns about the gospel prompted you to study the gospel more fervently, and resulted in a greater understanding?