The church has always been big on learning, encouraging education, promoting teaching of many kinds. And it has been successful. I have attended a number of esteemed institutions of learning, encouraged by church principles, and been engaged in education all my life, but if asked about the most influential educational influences in my life, I would name two: first, the church, second, my husband. Leaving the second aside for this occasion, I have said many times that all I ever really needed to know, I learned at church.
Church teaching and activity and involvement have shaped my life and taught me things I use every day to my greater benefit:
- To work together in peace and harmony.
- To say yes when asked to do something.
- To hear and recognize revelation sent directly to me.
- To organize things.
- To speak in public.
- To sing in parts.
- To act on a stage.
- To perform in public without fear.
- To make things by hand.
- To teach a lesson.
- To dance the tango.
- To see a shape to life that has enabled good long-term decisions.
- To respect the person in charge so that when I am the person in charge I can expect respect.
- To use the talent in hand when there is not much talent available.
- To plan and to execute.
- To see life as a series of projects.
- To recognize and value the available community rather than seeking after another.
- To value knowing other church members who provide us with precious connections we could not manage in the real and greater world.
- To establish life-long, perhaps eternal, connections.
- To willingly accept responsibility for which I am not prepared, knowing that I will learn on the job.
- To recognize that we are all good enough and that together we can accomplish noble, great, impressive, and previously unimagined things.
As church members, we have the potential for a leg-up compared to others in our society. We have opportunities and responsibilities that others do not and we are the better for it.
Looking back over these observations, I see that none of them are specifically gendered. All this was available to me, and I benefited from it as much or more than the young men in our ward.
We live in multiple worlds. I certainly do. But these lessons from my early and continued days in the church help me to navigate my other worlds.
Of course I also favor learning Greek and Latin, studying physics and poetics, being familiar with latter day scriptures as well as the wisdom of the ages. But I most value the daily skills that I learned in years of church attendance and participation, the practical lessons that we also find in the chosen scriptures for today such as, “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:124)
Everything is church. Church experience influences everything we do and we are the better for it.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind, Mariana Castro Heath
“I have learned to see people different than me as children of God. On one hand you have dead people teaching you all of these amazing and unexpected things about humanity and our millennial connection with the divine, but on the other hand you are living with all of these living people who also teach you other things about humanity that you never thought about. People who believe in completely different things than you do. People who are nomads from the desert, and they still think that they are descendants of these ancient people. People who cannot really see past tomorrow. People who live in a community and who are much more focused on family and tribal connections than they are on individualistic pursuits, for example. Living with these people and working with these people has taught me so much. Engaging with people so different from me expands my comprehension of what a human being can be, and how vast and diverse God’s love for all his children actually is.”
A Well-Educated Heart, Marlene Blomquist Peterson
“The Book of Mormon talks about ‘secret combinations’ who do works of darkness and are forces of destruction. Lately I’ve come to understand that this pattern for learning is a ‘sacred combination’ for releasing light. And this sacred combination starts with feeling desires in the heart for that which is good and beautiful and right, and then you teach obedience to correct principles — the mind and the science part, the law part. Combining the two together, heart and mind, releases light. And all of God’s greatest gifts are found in the fruits of that light, which gives us understanding, which fills us with joy and love and peace.
God’s purpose is joy; his message is that we should learn by the Spirit. The way that we do it is with this sacred combination of heart and mind.”
Other Related Women’s Voices
“Indeed, it is relevant! I must say unequivocally that Relief Society is pertinent in women’s lives today. The underlying purposes of this organization are twofold: First, to provide opportunity and stimulation for more and more effective compassionate service to be given by the sisters. Second, to provide opportunity for a varied program of ongoing education.”
“We study our history to learn who we are. There is a worldwide hunger among good women to know their identity, value, and importance. Studying and applying the history of Relief Society gives definition and expression to who we are as disciples and followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our faithfulness and service are signs of our conversion and commitment to remember and follow Him…The history of Relief Society teaches us that our Heavenly Father knows His daughters. He loves them, He has given them specific responsibilities, and He has spoken to and guided them during their mortal missions.”