I’m still a bit overwhelmed at the lack of vision in Women At Church. Writing helps me, though. Whenever I read a review of it, I’m reminded of why I was looking forward to reading it. It is a peacemaking effort to combine the desires of women to add their work to the work of God with the current opportunities in our Church structure. Great! Perfect! But she spends so much time in the book affirming society’s models or the felt needs of women. Really, those are desires, not needs, and she leaves that unexamined. My need, or my desire, if I have one that stands out, is to know that what we are doing at Church is according to the Spirit and the eternal nature of the work of God. That is my need, my desire. I felt like, coming out of reading that book, that my need would be one of a thousand, a drop in a pond of many other drops. Are all needs and desires really equal? We are all equal individuals, but does that mean every desire is equal? I think that is one thing that our current culture does actually believe. And I think she believes it and presents is as self-evident. But I don’t believe it. I think we are placed here on earth to be, like Joseph Smith called himself, a “rough stone rolling.” We are going to have our desires changed and chipped a way. We are going to sacrifice and be challenged. We are going to be weak, and put in weak positions. All of this is to force us to realize we rely on Christ, and that is isn’t about our work but about God’s work. That sounds negative but it’s actually a huge relief. Whenever I sense that this is God’s work and not mine, I finally relax. I’m not anxious or upset. Sometimes I can see the great thrill it is that God is in charge and actually wants me to come along for the ride. That sense of being His servant is incredible! I don’t know how to describe it beyond the fact that is relieves all stress yet gets me fully to work. It’s a joy to be involved in that kind of work.
And so I think her book is missing something grand. Something I cherish that I found only through prayer, scripture study, grace, consecration, and so forth. Looking at my desires and needs made me miserable, but seeing God’s work unfold before me in clearer ways all the time made me relieved and happy. That this is possible is the promise I want to give Women In the Church.