The Gospel Doctrine lesson #9 manual objective is “To inspire class members to read the prophecies of Isaiah and to help them understand how these prophecies apply in their lives.”
To suggest ways that women can liken the scriptures unto themselves.
I think it is fair to say that God WANTS us to benefit from the scriptures. Our Heavenly Parents did not set up earth life as a test rigged for us to fail but rather a grand developmental play and work space. So, when you hit Isaiah it may seem like a head snapper— what am I suppose to do with these? The lesson manual points out that Nephi gives us several keys to that can help us better understand the Isaiah versus. I am going to focus on one that has been both a challenge and a strength of mine— “liken the scriptures unto us.”
I have always had a brain that is able to see the application of things— the analogy wrapped inside the situation. Being a storyteller I am almost always able to see possible layers that offer richness. This means I should be good at likening scriptures to my own life and seeing ways I can benefit from them. The trick comes in that sometimes the scriptures seem far— and not just because they were written by Isaiah. Obviously the vast majority of scriptures that we study are examples and stories about men. Sometimes this means that the examples feel challenging for me to liken unto myself… I just don’t feel that connected when I read about generals or wicked kings or chopping off arms. (And not to say that men would feel connected to chopping off arms either!)
However, I WANT to benefit from the scriptures. So putting my storyteller hat on, I offer a few ways that women can also liken the scriptures unto their own lives.
Look for the universal.
While many of the stories in the Book of Mormon have a protagonist or a situation that does not feel like my life on the surface, digging in a little bit often provides richness. So, for example, I have never had to wander in the desert for many years. My camping has been for pleasure and didn’t involve liahonas or praying for food or building boats. On the surface this example has little to do with my life. However, when I dig in a little deeper, I know there have been times that my life felt barren…pointless…demanding. Rather wandering-in-the-desert-like. And the moments I used my personal liahona of asking God which way to go, of humbly asking for emotional sustenance, of asking God how to solve big problems— then my life was richer for it. We can all benefit from applying the universal lessons in the Book of Mormon.
Recognize where there are women in the Book of Mormon…even when they don’t have names.
When Bethany and I sat down to write the Book of Mormon volume of Girls Who Choose God, we were stunned to find out just how many times women were mentioned. And while it was culturally-appropriate (though still irksome) that women were not named at that time, it is not cultural appropriate now to ignore women’s contribution. So, let’s all pay attention. Let’s see what we can learn from Nephi’s wife, Nephi’s sisters, the women who got baptized at the Waters of Mormon, etc. To be women who can prayer with power, women who can choose to break false traditions, women who choose to be believers— those are lessons for both women and men.
Think about the women who were there but are not mentioned.
Elder Ballard gave a talk at Women’s Week at BYU and said that we all need to look for the women of the Book of Mormon. He mentioned what kind of mother Moroni must have had…and that made me wonder about all the other women who existed at that time. Who were the sisters of the stripling warriors? Who were the mothers of the prophets and generals? How did the women feel as their cities and families were under attack?
As we liken the scriptures unto our lives, I pray that we will acknowledge and benefit from the richness of the women of the Book of Mormon— both those mentioned and those who we know were present and trying their best.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Life, By Design, Alyson Von Feldt
Years ago when I was a new mother, I was studying the topic of revelation. I was in D&C 76 and I followed a cross reference which took me to the book of Proverbs and I read the first dozen or so chapters as if for the first time. When I came to Proverbs 8:22-31, I read about a woman named Wisdom speaking in that poem and had a significant spiritual experience. One of the most profound of my entire life. I felt like the top of my head was opened up and light and understanding poured into it. I read in this poem about a heavenly woman named Wisdom who was present at creation and I could not believe that I had never noticed her there before nor had anyone ever called her to my attention at church or in my religion classes. It just seemed to me plain as day that a divine woman was telling her story in that poem. I remember standing up in astonishment because I always wondered why the scriptures never mention a heavenly woman of any sort. Not an angel who is a woman, not a heavenly mother, not a single noble and great female intelligence performing a heavenly role. Of course there are many great strong, mortal women in the scriptures, but here was what appeared to be a heavenly woman speaking in her own voice, plain as day.
Celebrating the Unseen Woman, Heather Ferrell
I got my degree in Public Health and did a Women’s Studies minor. I learned that God did not make women unequal, but in the way our world is set up, we don’t see women. They’re invisible. A lot of the classes I took asked us to look for what the issues are for women and to talk about them. I realized that a lot of the anger I had was simply because women aren’t talked about. I think that’s central to my blog. Once you know that there are women in the scriptures, you can bring them out and talk about them.
At BYU I took a class from Camille Fronk on women in the scriptures. She was writing a book for Deseret Book about women in the Old Testament, and recruited us to be her research assistants. I got Deborah. That was my first taste of research and, wow! I loved it.
In that class, I learned about women I’d never heard of before. It’s funny to me now because I know them so well that I think, how did I never know who Puah and Shiphrah were?
Other Related Women’s Voices
Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten the Work, Linda K. Burton
Just as our faithful sisters in the scriptures, such as Eve, Sarah, Mary, and many others, knew their identity and purpose…We too can know of our own divine heritage as beloved daughters of God and the vital work He has for us to do.
In their charge to “save souls,” sisters were authorized to organize and participate in an extensive sphere of influence. The first Relief Society president was set apart to expound the scriptures, and Relief Society still carries an essential teaching responsibility in the Lord’s Church.