Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Sociological look at our lives as women in the Church

Renata Forste

Guest Blogger: Devon Linn

What a boring title for a blog, right?   Well, I suppose I should start by explaining that sociology runs in my blood, and it's what I got my degree in.  Being a sociologist isn't really good for much besides calling myself a sociologist,  but I confess that since it's been years since I've been in a classroom, so I especially don't often think (or use big words) like one on a day to day basis.  Due to this lack of involvement in my chosen field, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Renata Forste, who is the Department Chair of Sociology at BYU and a friend of my family, was speaking at Women's Conference this year.  I was curious what she would be speaking about, so this week when the text of her talk was put on the Women's Conference transcript page, I was eager to read it.

Her talk was titled "Coming Together and Sustaining Each Other in Righteous Choices" which I loved because it's similar to when we talked about on Mother's Day in Relief Society last month on how we need ALL of the sisters in our ward to be complete.  If you get a chance to read Sister Forste's talk, I highly recommend it because there are some really great (and funny!) parts that are much too long to copy and paste onto here (especially check out her excerpt from Dave Barry on page 5 on the difference between how men and women look at themselves...HILARIOUS!)  She also has some great examples and messages on how advertisements target and distort our ideals of perfection, and also how pride plays a great role in our feelings of competition and inadequacy with one another, and how we can overcome it.

Some of my favorite parts of her talk were about how we need to support each other in our decisions as women. Speaking of this, Sister Forste says,

"We need to sustain each other in righteous choices, even when they are different from our own. How we work out family roles, manage our food storage, build faith, participate in genealogy, keep a journal, and so forth depends upon our individual circumstances. How we apply the principles of the gospel to our individual lives is dependent upon our ability to seek and receive personal revelation. Making such choices should not create contention between us. Instead, the differences we see between us should create a bond – they should be a source of strength. Sharing and celebrating our righteous differences – whatever they may be – provides greater resources for all of us to draw from. It fills our community well with a diversity of talent and abilities to move the Lord’s work forward.  What is gained in coming together if there is nothing unique to bring to the table? 
I believe it is possible to respect the righteous decisions of others, without necessarily making the same decisions ourselves. When we pray and receive personal revelation from the Lord about a decision, that does not mean it is revelation for others – personal revelation does not mean others must make the same decision. If my answer from the Lord was for me to follow one life path, and your answer was to follow another – we both can still be making righteous choices. We can both be doing what the Lord wants us to do.

Thus, being of the same mind does NOT mean making the same daily choices. We have to pray and decide individually what is right for us and our family – what is right based upon our own life circumstances. Being of the same mind – DOES mean we support and sustain each other in the righteous choices we each make."
I wholeheartedly agree with her on this.  If we truly know that the sisters around us are doing what is right for them (and trusting that they are praying and recieving revelation for their lives), who are we to judge if it is a different choice than ours?  The gospel doesn't dictate right or wrong for every situation, it just tells us to make decisions with our Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost helping us, and then we can love and support each other, because we have faith in one another. 
I really hope you get an opportunity to read this talk in it's entirety.  While I admit that I LOVED reading all the sociology terms like "vicitims of socialization," "normative expectations," and "status characteristics theory," (because they made my brain revert back to a time when I used bigger words on a daily basis), the truths spoken by Sister Forste were so uplifting and much needed to strengthen my identity as a daughter of God, and I they really touched my heart and made me re-commit to being better and loving more fully.

1 comment:

  1. I've been on both sides of this coin...stay-at-home-mom and working mom. Been there, done that. When I was a young mom there was a lot of conflict in our ward over this. Very divisive. Certain callings were not offered to those who worked. Those at home often didn't have the money or a car to participate in some activities. We all loved our children and wanted the best for them.

    I love this...If my answer from the Lord was for me to follow one life path, and your answer was to follow another – we both can still be making righteous choices. We can both be doing what the Lord wants us to do.

    And we can be compassionate and supportive. Wish I had felt that more as a young mom. We are all doing the best we can. Take heart.



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