Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Women are to be loved for what they are, men for what they can become."

Recently, I came across a quote that I thought was quite profound. It went something like this: "Women are to be loved for what they are, men for what they can become." When I first read this, my feminist side grinned a bit a pompously and agreed that women are already innately amazing—it's the men who need work. I kept thinking about it, and kept finding all sorts of interesting insights. I soon came to the conclusion that this quote is not a slight on men at all; in fact, this quote portrays both men and women in the light they should be portrayed in. In Relief Society, women are told over and over again that they are beautiful, that they are amazing, and that God loves them. I have no idea what they talk about in priesthood, but based on what I've heard from bishoprics (particularly in my singles wards), the guys spend a pretty good portion of their time making sure the girls are taken care of.

Women definitely have room to improve, but in God's eyes, we are all precious. He sees things in us that we can't, and he loves for who we are, despite our shortcomings.

Of course, God loves his sons too, but their role is a bit different. They don't need to be told that they are awesome because most of them have an ego to do that for them. So instead, in the church, we spend a lot of time making men out of our rotten teenage boys. We give them callings, we give them the priesthood, and we send them on missions. We give them wives, we give them children, and we give them flocks to watch over.

I haven't had the chance to go to a missionary homecoming for a while, but I always loved seeing the change that took place in those young boys' hearts. They may look exactly the same, but they are entirely different inside. They have a glow about them that is just irresistible.

This summer, I had the blessing of becoming a part of a new singles ward in Payson. I was a bit reluctant to do so—I hadn't heard anything good about the Payson singles ward previously, so I was content to stay in my home ward. However, this year, I could just see in the bishop's eyes that he wanted to do the unthinkable and put me in the Primary. And on top of that, I felt completely miserable at my home ward because I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. It was quite a frustrating feeling—I was sick to death of BYU wards, but I didn't belong in a family ward either. I was stuck.

So Kimberly and I started shopping for singles wards. We checked out the Salem one first, since technically we are supposed to go to that one, but the entire time I felt like a spy in enemy territory—Salem and Spanish Fork-ites may be good people, but I am a Paysonian to the core: all my life I have been taught that Spanish Fork and all those who are associated with the cursed town are evil. The nice people at church were just trying to deceive us and lead us to our doom.

So we tried the new Payson ward next. When we first stumbled into the tiny chapel that was built in like 1930, I think we both felt like we had found home. Even though there weren't enough people to fill even a third of the chapel, and about half of the people there were Mexicans, we knew that we were needed in this ward, though we had no idea how much we would come to love the ward.

Word about the new ward must have spread fast, because very soon a bunch of freshly returned missionaries started coming to our ward. To me, they were still juniors in high school, a bunch of punks who thought they are the coolest guys in the universe. And don't get me wrong, it is still hard to shut them up long enough to get a word in, but there is a different spirit about them now. They are excited about the gospel and they honor their priesthood. They have become what we envisioned them to be—only it's better than we could have imagined it.

Today we had a combined RS/Priesthood lesson, and it was taught by Wes Haskell, who didn't know that he would be teaching the sisters as well as the . . . um, boys. However, it was an amazing lesson. It's always fun to be in a class with the boys—especially boys that you find attractive—but they brought a spirit with them that the sisters just can't duplicate. They know how important the gospel is, and they have done so much to help it move forward. They have become men, men of power and leadership. I couldn't help but feel incredibly lucky to be in a ward with young men who are still filled with the fire of youth, but that have become important men of the kingdom as well.

As if it weren't enough to be surrounded by all of these great young men at our own meetings, as soon as church let out, Kin and I dashed back to Elk Ridge to watch our brother be ordained as an elder. This is a first for our family—we've experienced many of the rites of passage that women of the church typically have, but we have yet to experience sending out our beloved boy on a mission. I love coming from a family of girls, but I am so grateful that God blessed us with at least one boy.

Tyrel has always been a bit behind the boys of his age maturity-wise, but he has always had a good heart. He has gone through things that most boys his age haven't ever had to deal with—he has Aspergers, his best friend died when he was 9, he is constantly being harassed by his sisters—and yet he is one of the most pure people I know. He may not understand a lot about the world, but he knows what is right and what is wrong.

Watching him grow the past couple of years has been an awesome experience for our whole family. I remember when he gave his graduating-senior talk in sacrament meeting, and I was just struck with an overwhelming feeling that he is on the road to becoming great. Our little brother will be such an amazing influence for good wherever he goes.

And then, a blink later, he is being ordained as an elder. Thank goodness he won't be 19 for over 6 months, so we can hold on to him for just a bit longer. But when my dad was ordaining my little brother, I couldn't help but rejoice at what God is making of him. He may be a shy little boy now, but God will make something great of him. He already has.

So men may need a bit more work to make something worthwhile out of them than women do, but once that moment of change comes, that power sustains all of those around them. Women have a wonderful calling in life, but I think up to this point I have underestimated the role of men. In God's hands, men can achieve that awesome potential, whether they are rambunctious teenagers or shy little boys. The power of the priesthood is an indescribably awesome thing, but a worthy man taking on that emblem is even awesomer.

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