I have this memory nestled into the recesses of my brain that pops up every now and again. It is from when I was about four years old, which is remarkable; my memories from early childhood are few and far between. I don’t know why this one stands out, but it is fairly clear. I’m sitting at the coffee table in our living room, with pencil in hand, a sheet of wide ruled paper in front of me. My mom is sitting with me, teaching me how to write my name.
And I was pretty mad about it.
I don’t remember what I was doing just before, but I do know that my mom had pulled me away from doing it to sit me down and make me trace out these hieroglyphics for some godforsaken reason, and I saw the whole exercise as pretty futile. “Why would I ever need to do this?!” I know my mom must have been losing patience with me. I was feeling so frustrated about this waste of time, that, unless I was an infinitely more patient person at the age of four than I am now, there was pretty much no way I wasn’t being obstinate. Since I knew the alphabet, but wasn’t yet reading, lining up the letters L – E – A – H meant little to me, and I had no interest in doing it over and over.
I remember my mom explaining that I was starting kindergarten soon and that I would need to know how to write my name at school. I vaguely remember her saying something about learning to read, and then understanding it all better, but I was like, “WHATEVER. I don’t want to do this and I don’t need it and I don’t understand why we’re even talking about this.”
It goes without saying, mom was right. She was right because she could see way, way past what I was seeing. She knew so much better than I did what the future held, the skills that I needed, and the things I needed to do to prepare. What she knew, that I couldn’t see, was that this was about my identity. She knew that the rest of my life would be shaped by my name and that everything I ever accomplished and everyone I ever connected with would all carry my name. Learning to write it was one infinitesimal step towards a wide open future, full of potential.
Bless her, I got to kindergarten and knew how to write my name. Super handy skill, that.
Sometimes I hear women in church talking about female ordination. I hear a lot of pushback against it. “We already have everything we need,” these women say, “we don’t need anything different. We want to keep doing what we have been doing.”
But I wonder, you know? I sense our Heavenly Mother is standing by, and She can see way, way past what we’re seeing. She looks into the future and She knows the skills we need and what we need to do now to prepare. She is patiently sitting with us, Her obstinate daughters, who *just don’t want this and don’t know why we’re even talking about it,* saying, “My daughters, you need to know this. You need to learn this new skill. The more you learn, the better you will understand how important this is for you. This is a tiny baby-step, my daughters, and it will shape who you are for the rest of eternity. Everything you can accomplish, everyone that you can bless, it all comes back to you learning this skill. If you don’t take this step your identity will be stunted. You can’t reach your full potential without this.”
I feel like I can hear Her gentle nudges; I am ready to learn what She wants to teach me.