“When I was young I thought the noblest thing in this life was to be a mother—I have since learned that the best mission in life is the one the Lord has prepared for me.”
–President Ardeth G. Kapp*
Like President Kapp, the most vital piece of advice that I can give to LDS women in regards to figuring out their educational and professional paths–and how that all fits and jives with the familial lives they also desire–is to throw away the proscribed life script narrated and directed and even lauded by many LDS members. Instead of fixating exclusively on the pursuit of marriage and motherhood, LDS women would be best prepared by learning and trusting how to receive and follow personal revelation.
As Mormons, we claim to believe in personal revelation. But often in practice, the life script touted as the only plot line for women—a very long one-act play filled with a one-dimensional protagonist or supporting character—is taken as the only possible revelation. We may not think that we support a one-size-fits-all path for women, but consider statements and sentiments such as these:
Good mothers stay home with their children.
A woman’s education is only necessary because it will make her a better mother.
She must work because her husband doesn’t make enough money.
She’s still single because she is too career-oriented.
Relying on the culturally-authored life script absolves personal responsibility. It eliminates the need for personal revelation. It confines potential. It restricts diversity. It places limits on God.
My educational and professional paths are what they are because of personal revelation. In no other area of my life have I felt more guided and prodded than I have in my educational and professional pursuits. I watch as women (and men) assume the director’s role in other women’s lives. For someone to state that my path is less than another woman’s path because it does not mirror the proscribed life script is to mock and defame the very personal revelation that I have received from God. It belittles and shames the very nature of who I am and who and what I can become.
Have you prayed about your path? Have you received revelation that tells you that you need to stay home with your children and not work outside the home? Awesome! Do it. Have you received revelation that prods you to return to work or school—even while you have children at home? Great! Let’s make it happen. Have you not had the opportunity to marry? Or have children not come when you expected? Has the Lord whispered to you that there are noble paths to pursue while you wait on Him and His timing and methods? Let’s patience-build together and get to work. Does your heart hold a wish or dream that you know has been planted there by Him? Let’s turn it into a reality. Not sure what you should do? Ask Him. It is through personal revelation that God helps each of us individually fulfill our womanhood—and together we collectively embody the entire spectrum of womanhood through the diverse paths that we bring to the eternal stage.
If we truly believe in personal revelation, we accept and support various life paths. “This is the way” is a dangerous proposition when Jesus Christ is not at that center. Personal revelation is the key to that center. His way is never one of fear or shame, but one of love and hope and possibility. Let’s put into action His promise that all things are possible through Him—even things that we may not have imagined yet for ourselves and our fellow sisters.
He is our champion. Let us join Him in championing the personal life paths of others.
* Thanks to this fantastic YW lesson plan for making me aware of this quote.