After my kids had gone to bed and all the cleaning was done, I curled up on the couch. In preparation for Stake Conference my husband had been gone all day and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. All wanted to do was drink hot chocolate and go to bed. But I felt pulled towards the scriptures, not out of duty or habit, because I had already read that day, but because I felt that God had something to show me that night in the scriptures, a healing balm I didn’t yet know I needed.
I came to Mark 2. This is the chapter that recounts the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered into the house so that he could be healed. I have read this story many times over the years. But that night the story came to life, it healed my heart, and the heavens bent and took my hand and led me to a place of peace. I realized that this story was about me, and it was bigger than me, it was about seeking and asking and sometimes doing things a different way.
The spirit washed over me and sitting on my couch, I knew I had found the story I was supposed to understand and fill a hole in my heart. As I sat and pondered an answer to a question that I had buried deep, pushing it down because it seems so hopeless. At school I study innovation within the LDS Church. My research analyzes the impact and the negotiation processes within the Church from the printing press to the Internet, and while this seems like a rather mundane topic it takes me into texts and stories that are beautiful and powerful and subsequently into stories that make my heart hurt for the loss of potential progress.
In the story- these men knew that they could not get their friend through the doors – the doors were blocked. But they knew the blessings that were held inside, and they needed to find a way in. One of the parts of my research that makes me the most depressed is how over the last 50/60 years the path of bottom up innovation within the church has been all but removed. We have forgotten to tell and retell the beautiful and complicated narratives of how we came to have programs such as Sunday School, Family Home Evening, Young Women’s, Relief Society, the LDS scriptures, and really any revelation. I often feel that the doors of the church have been cemented over, and the windows have titanium storm shutters bolted over them. Most members will say this is ridiculous but I think it is because most have never tried to enter or walked by at such a distance that they do not see the lack of access. And so many unknowingly ridicule and mock movements like Ordain Women. As I sit day after day collecting and writing this research, I think how will change ever happen in the church? How do we get back what we once had? And how will we go forward into the future? How do we open the windows of heaven when they are boarded up? How do you walk through a blocked door? But year after year I find the courage to carry on, studying, writing, praying, and waiting on the Lord.
It was my research that took me to the Ordain Women launch in 2013, and it was my research that convinced me to write a profile. This scripture story is not a story of one person it is a story of group of dedicated souls who against all odds found a way in. The blessing of their courage did not stop with the friend they helped, their story of enduring faith and creativity will continue to bless the lives of all those who read it. Religious innovation will happen. Mormon feminists, and religious feminists everywhere, will find a way in. And while we will continue to knock at the door, chances are it change will come through a hole in the roof. I believe that one day our church manuals will tell our story– that a long time ago a group a faithful, devoted, and brave people– who against all odds, found a way in, and created space for all who wished to enter to receive all the blessings of the Lord.
That’s beautiful! I too have been spending time fasting and praying about this. I came to the conclusion that I know who we are, as members of Ordain Women, and that while the church is misunderstanding us and our intentions right now, it won’t last forever. When we don’t evaporate overnight into apostasy, but stay and keep knocking faithfully, I believe the story will be written in its complete glory. I believe God understands and knows our hearts, and the church will someday, too.
I love this, Jessica!
This is the perfect parable for the struggles that I am having. Thank you for sharing it.
I have so much respect and gratitude for you who are knocking. I believe the hole in the roof will be made, I pray that it will happen in my lifetime. Until then, I will do my best to stand for love and truth within the church even when it’s tough for me to stay. Thanks for sharing this. It was beautiful to read.
Well said Jessica!!!
The divine nature of the limitations put upon the exercise of priesthood keys explains an essential contrast between decisions on matters of Church administration and decisions affecting the priesthood. The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures—matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. But even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood. Elder Dallin H Oaks April 2014
Faith+mustard seed = move mountains.
Mysoginistic men + lack of faith = inability to change a divinely decreed pattern that is no where actually divinely decreed
Be very careful about how you interpret the scriptures:
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.
7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.
The scriptures are clear that you must enter through the door or the gate “that you may not be deceived.” If you struggle with questions and concerns that’s okay–normal even! But the leaders of this church are as inspired and prepared as they ever have been, and there is no need to enter another way to approach the Savior. It is only through the ordinances of the gospel that the power of godliness is manifest and it is only in the church (as it currently is) that those ordinances are found.
Don’t be deceived into thinking there is some other way.