Monday, December 28, 2009

What does it mean to be feminine?

A new YW Personal Progress Program will be coming out soon. The new books will be pink. The color choice is very deliberate. Sister Dalton explains:
We are excited about the color of pink, because we think these young women are pink. They resonate to the softness and the femininity of that color. We want them to understand that they are soft, they are unique, they are feminine and that they don't have to be like the boys, to focus on femininity, on the softness of young women.
That word "soft" is bugging some people. And yet, I think there is meaning we can get from mulling over it a bit. Here are some of my thoughts.

Even though I think sometimes it's hard to talk about what femininity is (language is limited, or at least can be (very) charged, as seen sometimes when the topic of femininity is discussed and frustration is expressed about some teachings on the subject). And yet, femininity is valued and talked about by our leaders. (Sis. Dalton definitely isn't the first one to address this subject of femininity. See, for example, here, here, here, and here.)

FWIW, I grew up a tomboy (e.g., only girl in shop class, twice (sooo fun!); very active in sports growing up (including only girl playing basketball with the boys for recess way back when); had hobbies that were more masculine, like doing models; etc.). I studied a field that had an 80/20 ratio of men to women in the classroom, and ratios more on the male side professionally as well. I'm more naturally suited to a board room than a kitchen or nursery or Primary class. I am not instinctively a huge fan of pink (my baby blankie was blue...maybe that has something to do with it - hehe), and I don't particularly care for frills and trendy or girly stuff. And sometimes I can have a hard time processing what "feminine" should mean for me.

But I have found value in pondering how I might be able to be more feminine. I feel I can embrace that concept while still embracing my personality and interests. I don't know that I will ever be a "typical" female in some ways (whatever we think that may mean), but I do believe that there is power in rejoicing in the concept of femininity -- whatever God may guide each of us to discern what that means for us individually, magnifying unique gifts, talents, and strengths, not necessarily taking away from them.

I think sometimes these kinds of ideas (such as what it means to be feminine) are rejected outright because they either feel too vague, or because they may feel like cookie-cutters to some -- that somehow it's all about molds and stereotypes and expectations that we can't or don't fulfill. I think, rather, we can think of them as guideposts to carefully consider and prayerfully apply, as guided through the Spirit. Something may not seem to "fit" at first, but I think time and patience can sometimes show that even principles that didn't click initially can yield impiortant fruit.

As I think about it, I think the new youth theme ("Be strong and of a good courage") and the concept of femininity can actually go hand in hand. I say this because I believe there is power in womanhood. I've been pondering this concept for years, and although I can't fully articulate it all, I can say that I have felt very strongly the reality that women bring something unique and important to the plan of God -- both collectively and individually. And I think the more we can seek guidance in how to be more "feminine" the better instruments in God's hands we women can be.

So, as I ponder the word "soft," I think of things like the following:

Soft can be a soft answer (Prov 15:1) and soft words (Job 41:3) or a 'soft tongue' (Prov 25:15). (The Spirit's voice is sometimes described as soft, such as here or here.)

It can include a soft heart. (e.g., Job 23:16)

Or "lead[ing] on softly" (Gen. 33:14).

Or being a soft place for others to fall.

It could tie into being soft-spoken (hard for someone as opinionated and vocal as I can be).

I think it also has something to do with being (or seeking to be) nurturers. Think of the "soft" sciences, for example -- they have to do more with people and relationships. (I'm NOT saying that those fields are the only ones women should pursue -- I'm just mulling over the word "soft" and how it is sometimes used.)

More thoughts, anyone?

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

As I wrapped presents and set them under the tree on Christmas Eve, I had the thought to keep some of the presents hidden away. I debated within myself, but finally decided I would. We wouldn't have a lot of time to open presents in the morning anyway, since we had to get up and get on our way to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Yes, that would work -- we'd spread our own little family's Christmas out a little -- after all, we've never been the rush-through-the-present-opening types. (I use Christmas as a time to give our children things they need -- I hold onto clothes and supplies and other practical things during the year and wrap them all up for the fun of it at Christmas.)

The children enjoyed having some unexpected gifts to open when we got home. But I enjoyed being able to enjoy the gift-opening. That little thought to hold off on some of the presents was a very unexpected little blessing for me.

You see, I have a sleep disorder, and I had taken some of my sleep meds to catch a couple more hours of sleep before leaving for my parents' home this morning. Before I went back to sleep, though, I spent precious time with my family while the children opened what was under the tree.

But I don't remember most of it.

You see, a side effect of the drug I take is the possibility of amnesia-like memory loss while the drug is active. It must have been a combination of the amount I had taken during the night in combination with the timing of the gift-giving (after the drug had already started to take effect), but it pretty much wiped out most of my memory of what happened this morning. (Yeah, I am still freaking out a little about it, actually. It's an awful feeling not to be able to pull the memories out of my head.)

And I am really sad.

Pres. Packer said this:

I know of few things on this earth quite so celestial as the face of a little youngster, happy, hopeful, and believing, with Christmas almost here. That is the gift that children give to parents at Christmastime.

I love that part of Christmas, but I didn't get that gift this morning.

But because of that little thought to tuck away some presents, I got the gift tonight.

Who knows if that is the reason I had that thought last night to tuck away a few presents, but I'm grateful for the little tender mercy that it was to enjoy a few moments with my children - and to remember them!

As a p.s., I recommend that entire article by Pres. Packer. I hope to write more of my thoughts on it later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shawna Belt Edwards' "Do You Have Room?" video

Merry Christmas!

For sheet music or a free MP3, see here.

If you have a minute, read through some of the emails Shawna received this month after sharing her song and inviting people to share how they make room for the Savior.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do You Have Room for the Savior?

A friend of mine wrote this beautiful song. The video is no longer available, but you can listen to the song, find information about how to download a free MP3, and get free sheet music on Shawna Belt Edwards' home page here.