One of the most satisfying and rewarding parts of my work with Aspiring Mormon Women is hearing from the women in our community. I love to hear about your successes, your journeys, and even your challenges (your challenges highlight your strength and determination, and often leave me in awe of you!). The community that has grown up around this organization is extraordinary. Seeing women lifting each other up, providing encouragement, practical advice, and a safe and friendly space to wrestle with many of life’s challenges is a beautiful thing. Together we are accomplishing great things and doing important work.
In my first piece for AMW, I wrote “It is my hope that this little corner of the internet can inspire in women … confidence in their dreams, regardless of what those dreams may be.” Three years later, I am happy and humbled to observe that this little corner of the internet, and the community that it houses, is doing just that – not only for me personally, but for many women.
As we celebrate our third anniversary we are sharing your stories, your experiences with Aspiring Mormon Women.
Jennifer Dill Long
When I aged out of the young single adult program and started attending a conventional congregation, I found that I had more in common with the men at church than the women. I created a Facebook group called LDS Professional Women, in hopes of networking with other women like me. The group grew to a few hundred members but Facebook was still new and didn’t have the networking capabilities it does today.
Fast forward a few years – I was married with a 12-week old baby, returning to my full-time career in business. I Googled “LDS working mothers” and didn’t find much that was helpful (except for a blog by fellow AMW Diana W. Windley!). I struggled on my own to figure out how to navigate career and motherhood and being LDS. I felt like I was an anomaly at work, and an anomaly at church. Our family is especially unique because my husband is a stay-at-home dad.
In 2014, I saw an article in my Facebook feed called A Career: God’s Surprising Plan for Me. The article resonated deeply with me, and I looked forward to more well-written posts on the AMW website. When I joined the AMW Discussion Forum, I finally had the network that I had spent years looking for. My heart has been touched as I see women comforting each other and cheering each other on. My worldview has been expanded as I’ve read others’ posts and comments. And I’ve made virtual friends who I wouldn’t otherwise have met.
AMW has helped me ease into my role as an LDS woman with a career. Thank you for providing a space for us to support each other in our challenges and celebrate each other’s successes.
A lot has changed since I first synced up with the Aspiring Mormon Women community just over two years ago. At the time, I had recently left my full time job, of nearly seven years, to focus on my education and wasn’t sure where life was going to take me. What I did know is that I was committed to my personal and professional development and wanted to utilize every resource available to me. I had seen a post about an upcoming networking event for the group and decided that it would be a good idea to spend time with other like-minded women in my area. I went without knowing what to expect or if I would see anyone I knew, but had faith that the reason would be made clear to me.
I left the event that night feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the courage of the women in attendance. We spent some time opening up to those around us, being honest about our experiences, and talking about what had brought us there that night. Our experiences were varied, but the authenticity and sincerity of those experiences was unmistakable. It was refreshing to hear first-hand stories from women who were exercising both their faith and their God-given talents through their professional and educational aspirations. That sense of community has continued and is one of the many reasons I am proud to associate with Aspiring Mormon Women. AMW has strengthened my sense of self-worth as a daughter of Heavenly Parents. I am learning to “embrace my AND” and feel proud of the stewardship I have been given in these diverse areas of my life. I continue to grow and aspire thanks to the support of a truly outstanding group of women.
Happy anniversary, AMW!
When my oldest was two, my second was one, and I was pregnant, every day was hard for me. My therapists and midwife called it “situational depression,” but it only felt like hopelessness to me. Some moments I felt almost okay; others I could not stop weeping. I dreaded waking up in the morning because it meant another fourteen hours of non-stop catering to the demands of toddlers. More park visits. Endless sweeping, washing, wiping, and picking up. Constant talking and decision-making and failed attempts at peace-making. You know this circuit. I was unendingly surprised by how oppressive this routine felt to me. How every minute felt like a thousand.
And I grieved so much for the loss of my days as a lawyer and law professor. Even though I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, now that I was one, I craved something else. I daydreamed about an office, a desk, words to read and write, and problems to solve with research, clear thinking, and articulation. Oh man! I know some of it was just grass-is-always-greener thinking. But some of it was me actually feeling like I had talents I was not using in any way.
I was desperate. I needed to know if God needed my daily life to be what it was–and if it had to be like that until my kids were grown. I talked to everyone about it. I prayed constantly. I read books and talks and articles. I visited the temple over and over again.
I think the sticking point was that I always expected my life to be like my mom’s: quick graduating from college, marriage, many babies, and days and nights filled with creative service to the people and causes I cared about. Her choices seemed reinforced by the dominant narrative I was getting from church, that being a stay-at-home mom was God’s favorite choice and nothing else was as good, especially if your kids were still little.
But little by little, I felt the Spirit saying to me words that felt more specific to me. I felt God telling me my desires mattered, that my hope was meaningful. I felt permission from God to dream and plan–and to ask my husband to reconsider his default plans about his career and our child care needs. I felt freer, more grounded, more hopeful. But I felt lonely.
In the midst of all of this, I found Aspiring Mormon Women. I realized for the first real time that I was not alone. Women I did not know were talking about God like He was the same person who was talking to me! Faithful, loving, thoughtful women were seeking spiritual answers to the questions of their lives, and God was saying to me what He was saying to them: “I am on your team! Your thriving matters to me! I will help you and your family all live lives of meaning that are specific to you!”
I felt like I’d been skiing downhill on one ski (personal inspiration) but AMW provided me the second ski of community. I feel more stable, more grounded, and able now to ski much faster than I thought I could. I’m embracing my AND! And I’m encouraging my husband and kids (and everyone) to do the same.
Interested in sharing your AMW story? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and write #myAMWstory in the subject line.
As always, we would love if you would invite other aspiring Mormon women to like our Facebook page and invite them to join our discussion forum (nearly 1800 women strong). You can also find and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.