As a modern woman, I often see women who feel oppressed by patriarchy, by victimhood, by systems they see that are put in place by men, they feel oppressed by real and imagined barriers. They see oppression in religion, and not freedom. As a Mormon woman, as well as a modern one, I see what society says about my oppression, but I also see the freedom of truth. There is a fine line between the “philosophies of men mingled with scripture” and truth. As a seeker of truth, I have found truth in many religions, in many pagan and spiritual practices, in many philosophies. In fact, I have come to rejoice when i find truths in my studies of the world, of history of personal development, and science.
I have come to find out that not many people understand what the Gospel of Jesus Christ really is. The prophet Brigham Young stated that, “The Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son. The laws of the Gospel are neither more nor less than a few of the principles of eternity revealed to the people, by which they can return to heaven from whence they came (DBY, 1).”Chapter 2: The Gospel Defined,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 14–20
Don’t let the word obedience detract you from the Gospel. The Gospel is a path of change. Following the laws and performing the ordinances allows you to change in a prescribed order that helps the whole person heal. Now, there is not one way to follow the laws, no one way to change. Each person will find they have different issues, traumas and belief patterns that they need to change to fulfill their ordinances, to follow the laws. The laws and ordinances are not meant to oppress, but in the inquiry they provide into our own souls, we become healed and our faith grows. We are ready for the next steps and the light and knowledge we are able to receive, because our minds and hearts have been prepared.
Sometimes we are faced with a roadblock. We cannot progress because we cannot get past a deeply held belief, hurt, or trauma. Noticing these is the first step toward healing it. If it makes us angry, it is a sign that deeper inquiry, deeper meditation, and deeper insight are needed so we can clean the slate of that hurt. It takes time, and sometimes it takes the help of others to get to the bottom of what needs to change and support from others as you get really vulnerable with yourself to heal.
Why is it that I am able to progress in the gospel, in this path, when culturally there is so much that is wrong in the church? Men who oppress, who refuse to change their behavior or beliefs, women who don’t practice charity and judge others like it is their job. “Patriarchy” in the priesthood?
One, because the church, this organized religion, isn’t the gospel. All it is is a given framework for teaching people to be seekers of truth, to allow them to better themselves and progress in the personal path of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Does every person who identifies themselves as members of this church actively seek truth, and seek the greater light and knowledge of the gospel? Definitely not. Is everyone roadblock free and progressing towards enlightenment? No. Everyone is allowed to be on their own path, their own journey of self discovery and truth finding. Some are afraid to seek truth on their own, or afraid of doing it wrong. For those that bravely seek the Divine in their own hearts and minds and strive for the healing that this deep inner awareness brings, the Gospel allows them to see the divine in all things, even in themselves.
Joseph Smith stated, “we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” (Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, Mar. 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons,Feb. 1840, pp. 53–54; spelling and grammar modernized.) When we learn to know truth for ourselves, in our minds, bodies and hearts. We are able to find the truth of any thing.
“Be willing to receive the truth, let it come from whom it may; no difference, not a particle. Just as soon receive the Gospel from Joseph Smith as from Peter, who lived in the days of Jesus. Receive it from one man as soon as another. If God has called an individual and sent him to preach the Gospel that is enough for me to know; it is no matter who it is, all I want is to know the truth (DBY, 11).” (Chapter 2: The Gospel Defined,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 14–20)
How then are we to know truth? This is where many people feel frustrated. They believe they will feel and know truth the same way as a Prophet, or a leader, or Sally the neighbor. That that example is the only way to know truth. Increasing our intuition is key to knowing truth. Practice listening to and following our intuition is key to continuingly knowing truth. Ponder for yourself how you tangibly feel inspired, loved and connected to the divine. Some people feel it in their hearts (this is the most commonly referred to, though not the most common). Some feel it in their minds. Some feel it as a vibration. Some people feel it in their whole body, others feel it in their connection to the physical world. How does it feel to you? Connecting to this feeling will help you in your connection to the divine and understanding this celestial communication.
When seeking for answers, go to that grounded feeling, whatever that feels like to you, and ask the Lord to show you what “yes” feels like. Pay attention to energetic movement, relaxation, release, or peace. Take note of how it feels for you. Next ask the Lord to show you what “no” feels like. Again pay attention to energetic movement, tightness, restricted breath. Practice this on a regular basis. Giving yourself time to really ground into that place of peace and ask questions. As you study; scriptures, books or news. As you go about your day seeking for guidance. Seek to make that connected, grounded state your go to for making decisions, for forming opinions, and for understanding what it is in yourself you still need to heal. Brigham Young stated “Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. “ (History of the Church, 3:295–96; paragraph divisions altered; from a letter from Joseph Smith and others to Edward Partridge and the Church, Mar. 20, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri; parts of this letter were later included in the Doctrine and Covenants as sections 121, 122, and 123.)
As you seek to commune with God, to be connected to him, you have to quiet your mind and make it a priority. It must be a priority over being right, over maintaining victimhood, over pain, it must be a priority over busy-ness and material possessions. And making it a priority, right there is Discipleship. It is dedicating your days to feeling and being led by the truth revealed to YOU.
Won’t it be awesome when we can cast off our fears of people, or relationships, of pain, of oppression, of embarrassment, of unworthiness, and just live in tune with the Holy Spirit, acting when we need to act, in speaking when directed to speak. Won’t it be awesome to be an angel on earth?
My challenge for you today is to take your fears to the Lord. Practice being in tune with the divine and increasing your intuition, increasing your sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Ask him to heal your fear as you walk bravely as a disciple, guided by Him who loves most fully.