I won't lie, this was pretty flattering. My Grandpa is pretty awesome. He served in the Special Forces, Green Berets during the Vietnam and Korean Wars, and although what he actually did is still highly classified, he's old now, so he slips up and we get to hear some AWESOME stories. He's a well respected, involved member of his community who always looks for an opportunity to help. He's especially interested in veteran affairs, and in addition to assisting them on an individual level, he is also responsible for the construction of the Veteran's Memorial Park in Cody, Wyoming. He's also a great businessman and he's also kind of hilarious.
But then she continued (later inspiring this blog post):
"But make sure you're not just known as 'Grant's Wife.'"
Now let me tell you about my Grandmother. She's the only stately, sophisticated woman who can still appear like she doesn't have a stick up her butt. She's terribly intelligent and when I was little, I was completely convinced she knew everything that was worth knowing. She's also very independent. After graduating as the valedictorian of her class in New York, she went on to become a teacher. She then moved to Germany, all on her own, to teach school at one of the military bases where she ended up meeting my Grandpa. She's a talented pianist and chef and I owe my impeccable posture to her.
She's an incredible human being, but her comment really got me thinking. Whenever we would go to a benefit or any kind of event with my grandparents in their tiny little town, everyone seemed to know my Grandpa by name, but then my Grandma would be continually referred to as "Buck's Wife." Of course that would be irritating!
Tonight I had the opportunity to listen to General Women's Conference and learn from some of the most Godly women on earth today. General Women's Conference is the beginning of the semi-annual General Conference with the full participation of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where we gather together to listen to prophets, apostles, and other leaders. To all my friends of different faiths reading this, this is referring to those two weekends out of the year where Costco isn't a total madhouse.
As I listened to the words of these elect women, several things stood out to me. The importance of kindness, of faith, and of making and honoring temple covenants were among them. One thing that stood out to me in particular, though, is the importance of women in the church who have a bedrock understanding of the Doctrine of Christ. Women who not only study and implement the teachings of the Master, but women who can teach those principles to the next generation and who can humbly and respectfully defend His Word.
One thing I love about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is all the opportunities given to women to lead, to have a voice, and to be heard. There are Relief Society Presidents, Temple Matrons, and Sister Missionaries who do so much good in the world. But just as often, we refer to women who contribute just as much simply as "The Bishop's Wife" or "The Apostle's Wife." A Mission President's wife (see?) is technically referred to as a Mission Matron, but 9 out of 10 times she is simply "The Mission President's Wife."
And this has bothered me for a long time. I've told myself it isn't about titles, but I may or may not have told Grant this if he ever gets called to be a mission president, I'm referring to myself as "The Grand Mistress of the _____ Mission" (jokingly, sweeties, just jokingly).
But then I think about Heavenly Mother. We don't know much about her other than the fact that She is an integral part to the Father's Plan and that She has an infinite love for all of Her children. She's a quiet figure, but also a powerful one. She does so much for us, yet she is largely unsung. But that is the purpose.
This isn't doctrine, but I've heard it said that we don't know much about Heavenly Mother specifically because Heavenly Father doesn't want Her name taken in vain. It's an act of fierce love. The first commandment is to not take the Lord's name in vain, yet if you turn on the television for 20 seconds it casually flies right by.
Often women of the church are the unsung heroes. They're the ones dropping off dinners to families in need throughout the neighborhood, the shoulder to cry on after a tragedy, and a million other acts of kindness. Although Jesus Christ is recognized as the most influential person in secular history, during his ministry he had only 12 apostles and a semi-regular following. He preached to the crowds, but he also ministered to the blind, to the sick, and to the afflicted on an individual basis-- a quiet service.
But still: I, myself, don't want to just be "Grant's Wife." But this isn't about titles. More than anything else, I want to be like Christ-- I want to be kind and to be merciful, to forgive and to be all-loving. But I have to do that on my own. I have to be a Daughter of God before I can be "A Wife" to anyone.
In other words, I don't want to rely on riding Grant's coattails through the Pearly Gates because he understands the Doctrine of Christ and "he can take care of things." I want the two of us to be equally yoked in all things-- in talents, in interests, and in especially our relationship with God. I want the two of us to have the ability to stand at the Pearly Gates confidently and alone, but then choose not to. Because we know that although at face value we can be autonomous, in our hearts we cannot be.
I love my role as a wife, but even more I love my role on this earth as a Daughter of God. And I don't want there to be any confusion in that regard-- even if that means I can't be the Grand Mistress of the _______ Mission...