Monday, August 24, 2015

A Conversation with My Friend Kathryn (Part 1)

I had the following conversation with a dear friend of mine over Facebook chat last week, and felt like I should post it to my blog. I truly love Kathryn. She's one of those friends that God puts in your life, and you don't always find out why until much later. Anyways, I wish you could see all the ways she's served me. She's incredible.



Kathryn Thompson
8/17
9:38 pm

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the injustice placed upon women? For the past few months I've really been struggling with that. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes it's hard to breathe. I try to read scriptures and conference talks but come away more confused than when I started. Not always, but more often than not. I was praying about it tonight and thought of you. I figured of anyone I knew, you probably would understand best. Any advice for a fellow sister?



Amber Richardson
8/17
11:36 pm

Hi Kathryn! I'm just seeing this right now (it's pretty late where I am) but I wanted you to know that I totally feel ya, and that I'll respond tomorrow morning once I've slept. Love ya.



Amber Richardson
8/20 (definitely not the next morning)
11:35 am

This response is going to be a bit disjointed, so bear with me.

First, I wanted to pass along this quote from James Talmage. It's been a real comfort to me, first because the promises he makes are incredible, but second, because he actually acknowledges the pain that I've felt (and that I imagine you're feeling):

"When the frailties and imperfections of mortality are left behind... husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and cooperating to the full in the government of their family kingdom. Then shall women be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God... Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty and glory, of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God."

James E. Talmage "The Eternity of Sex", Young Woman's Journal 25 (October 1914): 602-3.

You should be able to find this talk if you Google it. It's one of my favorites, even though it's a ripe 100 years old now.



Amber Richardson
8/20
11:47 am

I think that one of the things that has been most difficult about feeling pain about the current (and historic) state of oppression towards women, is that it's so taboo to talk about. That taboo seems to definitely be lifting in our larger society, but as with many things, it's more slowly evolving in the Church. I went through a long period where I cried and struggled a lot over this. It's not so raw for me now, and I think that in part, it was because I learned to tell my truth about it.

I understand what you mean about going to the scriptures and conference talks and coming away more confused than when you started. At least, I know what that was like for me. I couldn't take that problem to Jesus until I was willing to acknowledge that it was a problem. Even if nobody else wanted to acknowledge it. And this particular problem (being overwhelmed by the large-scale historic injustice placed on women) is pretty all encompassing.

My first realization was that injustice has been around a long time. And of course, that in many places (okay everywhere), in varying degrees it still flourishes. My second realization (and this one was harder) was that injustice has existed within the framework of the Church. That prophets and apostles of past generations were blind to this injustice, and in some instances promulgated it. It was especially bad in the scriptures. I remember that when this was going on I had just decided to study the Old Testament. As you can imagine, that particular book of scripture hugely aggravated my distress. Actually, I've still never read the Old Testament all the way through, for fear of this very thing. Fortunately, Christ never never never encouraged oppression towards women, in fact, he was quite the supporter of women. But unfortunately, if Christ ever taught in an outright way that women should not be oppressed, we currently do not have record of that sermon.

Which is confusing. And has been a bit hurtful for me.



Amber Richardson
8/20
11:58 am

The way that I've come out that dark place has pretty much everything to do with learning to trust God. With the overarching history of my mothers and sisters, yes. But more than that, with personal revelation. God has been teaching me (painstakingly slowly) about His (and Her) perspectives surrounding injustices and womanhood. And so long as I can believe the revelation I receive, I am comforted and I learn more.

But that can be REALLY challenging, because it's a bit isolating. The first thing that isolated me was that I felt like I could see that what is going on, and what has gone on is not at all in harmony with the restored Gospel of Christ. And I felt pain and weight for all of it. So, as you can imagine, healing from that pain is also a bit isolating. Often times when people (usually women) experience this pain they drop off. It's a hard battle to fight. And people who fit this description got the first part right: acknowledgment, honesty, allowing themselves to grieve and feel the anger and the confusion. But there is a second half of the equation--and that's healing!

You can probably imagine how difficult it is to talk about the healing, the answers, and the peace when most people haven't even gotten to the point where they're willing to do the scary thing and first acknowledge the incongruences and the pain. I think this is why there is such a lack of dialogue surrounding these things.



Amber Richardson
8/20
11:58 am

My beliefs now surrounding womanhood are very full of light and peace. I still have lots of questions, but overall, I feel good about having questions. I couldn't get to that place until I waded through the darkness.

I actually have a little blog where I've been trying to document this process of healing/getting answers with stories from the scriptures and stuff. You can take a look at it, if it's helpful to you.  It's basically an outline of my healing process. But I didn't want it to be too didactic. If you want, you can read it from beginning to end. I'm planning for it to be a 28 part series, and I post about once a month.

http://abrightparticularstar.blogspot.com/search/label/Explorations%20in%20Womanhood?max-results=20

I'd love to read more of your thoughts, and I hope I haven't overwhelmed you with too many of mine.

Love,
Amber



Kathryn Thompson
8/20
1:07 pm

Amber, I am so touched by what you have to say. I feel lifted, as if a little light has begun to show in my darkness. I need some time to think about everything you have said but I promise to write again, hopefully soon. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.