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Hi I'm Marian

I was a Catholic. Then I was a Feminist. And now I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I grew up in Pennsylvania, joined the Church as a graduate student in Iowa and spent the last 30 years raising 8 incredible children on a "farm" in northern Colorado. I love hiking, singing, growing things, and being a grandma. 

Why I am a Mormon

I kept a journal in the months prior to my being baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I will tell my story with some of those thoughts. Nov. 1976 I really don’t like Iowa. I say that because it sounds more sane than, “I hate myself.” But that is what I mean. I am being a bit more honest with myself these days – now I say I can’t stand what this place is doing to me. I feel so selfish and closed in on myself. I have become exactly what I didn’t like about the people when I arrived. I don’t trust any bond. I haven’t ever felt so alone in my life – I don’t even like being with myself. This may sound extremely childish and silly. I hope it does to me someday. But for now it is too real – now it is all that is in my heart and my head. I have been giving nothing because I have nothing worthwhile to give. Jan.29 1977 I don’t want to be alone – and I have been so much since I came here. I’ve contemplated going back to church – since I’ve found it so disappointing trying to put my faith in people even myself but the idea – and even the experience of sitting through Mass seems so empty. I know what I’ll have to do is not return to church but return to God. I don’t know if I can do that. I felt so foolish – I remember- when I first became convinced that no one was listening. Was I such a fool to believe in a loving, caring God? I know I’ve not done so well since then. I took what I wanted of God’s lessons and ignored other portions. I thought I could do it on my own but I haven’t succeeded. I’m afraid of reading the scriptures. I believe they are a good beginning point for the lessons of God but they are written by men and have Man’s failings in them. I have never followed then as they are but used them for a basic feeling of what is right and wrong. But here I get into trouble also because I do a subconscious sifting and take what I can handle and leave the remainder. I am subject, of course, to the same failings as the men who wrote the words but I guess I have preferred to make my own mistakes. At this point I don’t really feel it matters which church I come to God through. I believe He is one and the same to all. Jan 31, 1977 I’m not certain yet of what I’m looking for. I think – once – I was where my friend is – with a strong faith in a loving, caring God. I watch and listen and I know what he is experiencing. It’s not my imagination and it isn’t empathy. There’s a sweet, sad ache that tells me it’s a memory. I can’t remember what caused it to disappear. I only remember that suddenly in church I had an overwhelming conviction that there was no one, nothing – no God paying any attention at all. Within the next week I’d shaken it down to basics and began with the fundamental question “Do I believe in God?” I decided that was the only thing I was really sure of – I do believe in God and I do believe Jesus was his Son n a way that none of us could ever be. Beyond those two beliefs I have very little. The one lesson I have tried to keep with me always was ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’. I have been failing for some time now and I am coming to realize I need help to live my life as it ought to be. But I am terribly hesitant to expect and, therefore, to ask that help of God. Feb 20, 1977 I have so much thinking to do that I’m starting to forget what my questions are so I decided to write them down. It seems they come so fast that one puts the previous one aside. One of the first that remains unanswered concerns women’s role in the plan of salvation. My darkest thoughts on this subject are that this religion seems well designed for keeping women in “their place”. My intellect recoils at this – it is against all that I’ve been recently taught about equality of the sexes etc. Woman seems less than man – she cannot hold the Priesthood and therefore has not the authority to baptize, confirm, or administer the Sacrament. Tonight I learned that a man may have more than one eternal marriage and women cannot. I am so tired of being put down. Why was I born a woman? Will I ever get used to people men saying “You can’t do this because you are a woman”? Do I want to get used to it? – My intellect, as I said, recoils against being put in “my place” but my heart really wants to know if, in truth, the role of wife and mother is my place. And, if indeed, I find the answer to this question is yes, I hope God will grant me the grace to accept and grow in that role. The other thing that has been troubling me is my reluctance to accept Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. I know I am running into my old prejudices against “some nutty guy in New England who decided to start his own religion” something I remember my dad saying when I was a kid. When I read what Joseph Smith wrote I get an image of an egocentric, male chauvinist who used this religion for his own glorification. It is strange, because if I hear the teachings without reading them they seem true – so there must be something in the writing that triggers all my prejudices. This is a very important point that I need help in working through. March 3, 1977 – My Walking in the Field Story After an exhausting encounter with Sue I went to walk in the field that’s east of our office. I was desperately in need of strength for I could not deal with some of the things Sue told me. It seemed a wonder to me to have to defend this church before I’m really sure of it myself. My heart was flooded with questions… Are you there? Do you really care – about everybody in every minute? Is your concern a general thing or are you really with each of us individually to strengthen and guide us? Do you really want for each of us to make it? Will everyone have the opportunity to hear the message I am hearing? How fortunate I am that the message is presented to me in such a special, personal way. I just know if I’d been approached by missionaries I’d have turned them off – sent them away. But I saw a person whom I really care about baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I thank God that my heart was touched and I wanted to learn…..Coming to that realization – that Heavenly Father so carefully prepared the circumstances to prepare me to listen – washed over me with the answer to all my earlier questions. Yes, he does love each of us – is interested and concerned about our individual progress. Thank-you, God. March 12, 1977 this one is written large and sloppy angry, I think I cannot live in this state! I shall fly apart before too long. I resent being a pawn – being manipulated and played with. This is an ugly, ugly game - this life! I almost think I was better off before – not acknowledging either power. Trying to make it on my own I had no help, granted, but neither had I this active hindrance. it seems as though since my investigation of religion began Satan has been playing much more diligently – I wonder if God is paying attention! Why does he not try harder too? Why cannot I feel his influence as strongly? Does God care less than Satan? I am certain that I cannot deal with this battle for a lifetime – not a constant tug-of-war with me as the rope! Right now I wish I was dead! I stopped the discussions because I felt like I was being channeled into baptism and I wanted to make my own decision. My friends were concerned and expressed their fears for me. I remember I very confidently told them I believed what they’d told me – that if I truly wanted to know the truth I would. Later Reuben called and apologized – said I’d taught him a thing or two about faith and testified to me that he knew I’d find the truth and he knew where I’d find it. That was good. I took a class in the Catholic Church since that is how I was raised and it is the only other church that seems to make or even have a claim to being established by Christ. I was really open with the Priest and the nun who was teaching it and told them I was trying to decide which church was true. It seemed that all through the ten week class I found many little evidences that I was a “Mormon”. One of the most convincing points was the succession in the Pope – they claim an unbroken line but cannot substantiate it. April 28, 1977 I was reading a collection of letters Fr. Supple had given me. They were written by a Catholic Priest to a Mormon who was planning to marry a Catholic. At first I found them exciting. never had I seen the differences in the two churches so clearly outlined. The differences became overwhelming – the priest said the two churches do not believe in the same Christ or the same God. I became confused – being buffeted about by what I had been taught to believe as a child and what I had recently learned. I guess I lost touch with the Mormon God. I couldn’t pray or hope for wisdom from my Old Catholic concept of God. I felt totally inadequate to make any decision – to see any right path. I was tempted to go back to being agnostic. One line of scripture troubled me a great deal II Thessalonians 211 “And for this reason God will send unto them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false.” I thought, “If God is going to do that to me – how could I ever make the right decision!” The despair of thinking I had not, nor would I ever have, the capacity to make a wise decision had lasted a week when I finally went to see Reuben. I had no question formulated. I just knew I needed help. He went over the chapter to help me understand “who” was going to be deluded to believe a lie. Verse 10 …”those who did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” That was the first ray of light in the storm. It gave me hope and faith that I could somehow make the decision. “I need help, Reuben.” “Would you like me to fast with you someday this week?” It seemed so right! “And after our fast do you want a blessing?” Oh yes! I started my fast on Monday and every time I thought – I’m hungry or thirsty or tired I thought about Reuben fasting too and about the hope I had of knowing. Throughout the day the little lights I’d seen along the way began to appear – and as I collected them the darkness diminished. When I went to the Bradley’s that evening I told them how I had collected little lights as the day progressed and it led me to say I am committed to join the Mormon Church. There are still doubts creeping around in the early morning fog but the course is so clear. Reuben asked me what I thought I needed to be blessed with. I said I need to be able to discern better that which is of God and that which is of Satan. Reuben blessed me with the companionship of the Holy Spirit that I might have the gift I had requested. He told me Heavenly Father was pleased with my decision and that I would be capable of much good. He also blessed me in my work that I might be able to see progress. Each day I seem to be gathering more and more lights to myself. I am aware of the Spirit guiding me safely through doubts where last week I would surely have become lost. I thank God for the blessing of the Priesthood. “Little Lights” Baptism and Confirmation are done in the “right” way. This was the initial feeling I had that led me to investigate the Church. The power of my friend’s baptism overwhelmed me. It only makes sense that a person should ask to be baptized – should make a conscious commitment to die to sin and live in Christ. The Book of Mormon was not written by Joseph Smith – it really is a history of God’s people on this continent and was translated by Joseph Smith. This is the belief – undeniable as it was at the time – which led me to take the discussions. Since then it has been shaken and I have doubted. With al’s insight although I am sure he didn’t intend it I am again convinced of the validity of the Book of Mormon. As he said, “there are no new insights to the person of Jesus Christ so the risk of accepting it is small.” The significance of accepting it – an addition to the body of scripture to which it is written there can be no addition – is that people become open once more to Divine Revelation. The Great Apostasy did occur. I know that that is why I left the church in the first place. I learned that it had gone amuck shortly – oh, how shortly- after Christ’s death. In that case the true church of Jesus Christ was not on the face of the earth. One has only to look at the history of the Catholic Church to know that her leaders were not following divine inspiration. One has only to look at he body of Catholics to see that, for the most part that fruits are not good. The fruits – that is how Christ taught us to judge the tree. I did not want to rely on that I guess I don’t trust people. but undeniably the programs and organization within the LDS Church are good and supportive to people who really want to work at leading good lives. The concept of pre-mortal existence puts no limits on God’s power to create and sheds new light on procreation as an obligation of love to our brother and sister spirits. Brother Rogers a seventy who had been teaching me asked me about my feelings about women in the Church and I feel I should write about this since I stumbled over it early in my investigation. Through attending Relief Society and learning more about the general feelings in the Church, I can see that motherhood is not a trap to keep women from being competitive in the work force. It is a calling – to bring Heavenly Father’s children into the world and raise them in his love and truth. A woman in this church is not bound to home and children to vegetate but is actively encouraged to develop and broaden as a person – not only in areas of strength and talent but also in areas of weakness. There is so much room for growth! In talking about women’s relationship to the Priesthood I remembered an experience I had early in the week concerning American Blacks and the Priesthood. It seems I have been testing all my doubts in the strength of my decision. I was contemplating Blacks not being able to hold the priesthood and how uncomfortable it will make me feel to ever say to a black person that I am a Mormon. I do not relish the thought of being identified with a group that most people see as prejudiced. I was just barely starting to be upset by it again and was thinking “I don’t understand how my loving, kind, Heavenly Father could hurt his children so” when a feeling washed over me that told me “I am not asking you to understand.” Now I do willingly accept that this must be so. My questions remain unanswered but for this acceptance. I feel so good about my decision – about all the opportunities I have to grow. I’m excited for my first calling – slightly nervous, yes – but calmed by the knowledge that I will be blessed with what I need to fulfill it. I know such joy in knowing I am a child of God! June 13, 1977 Yesterday I was baptized and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I entered the gate, and I felt ready. Saturday I was full of negative feelings and doubts. None of them were strong enough to change my course but I was very disappointed that I could not seem to recapture the joy of my decision. My roommate was a disquieting influence during the day. I read the scriptures before I went to bed and felt comforted. Sunday, when I woke it was with anticipation edged with anxiety. I kept thinking that with all the negative feelings I had that perhaps I was not ready after all and should call it off. But I knew the pains I’d taken in coming to baptism and I could not nullify it. I kneeled to pray. it was one of my special prayers. At first I thought I would ask Heavenly Father to take away those feelings and let me experience joy for I did not understand the negative feelings, Unless, I thought, they were to teach me that I would go through with my commitment even when I could not feel my faith. It was then that Heavenly Father helped me to accept his will and wisdom. And what I prayed for was to be able to feel whatever he wanted me to feel to the depths of my soul. On the way to church in the car I felt my spirit taking off like a jet and I felt the joy which my Heavenly Father gave me to the depths of my soul! All morning in church my joy grew and grew. Finally the time came for me to change into my white clothes. My feet were cold and my hands were shaking. I went down into the water with Reuben and he baptized me. I have no words to describe it but I will always remember it. When I was dressed in dry clothes I took a minute to collect myself and prayed to my Heavenly Father to open my heart that I might receive the Holy Ghost. Then I was confirmed. I will always remember one little part of the blessing that followed – that I would be a tool in the hands of the Lord - and they were the words of my own prayer, the desire of my heart. 

How I live my faith

I belong to the largest organization of women in the world, the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As part of that organization we work to improve our personal faith and righteous living, strengthen homes and families, and seek out and care for the poor and needy. One of my favorite parts of this work is called "Visiting Teaching" wherein women go two-by-two to personally visit, watch over, and care for individual women in the Church and community. To me this is a practical way to put the teachings of Jesus Christ in action.  

What are Mormon women like? Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?

Marian
Any apparent controversy about the place of Woman in God’s Plan resolved in my life years ago when I chose to heed the words of our latter-day prophet. For me it entailed abandoning my career and wholeheartedly embracing the roles of wife and mother. I not only have no regrets – I have been amazed at the richness of my blessings. The following “A Woman’s Place” contains some of my thoughts on the subject. The article was written several years ago but I have not changed my mind. I’ll let you know if I ever do. “This church surely seems determined to keep women in ‘their place’.” The thought recurred frequently as I investigated the church in 1977 at the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement. At that point, motherhood was under scathing attack as a waste of women’s time, talent, intelligence, and ability – the drudgery that kept women enslaved for generations. I did not plan to be a mother! I plotted my course with the Women’s Lib compass. As a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry, I not only planned to be a successful woman I planned to shine in a man’s field. A career in scientific research beckoned me with promises of intellectual stimulation, prestige, and recognition. The Women’s Liberation Movement convinced me that I was as intelligent, capable and valuable as any man, and I was determined to prove it. Then I met a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. How I struggled to resolve the internal conflicts created as I attempted to integrate the truths of the Gospel with the tenets of Women’s Lib! In a journal entry at that time I wrote, “My intellect recoils at being put in “my place” but my heart wants to know if, indeed, the role of wife and mother is my place. And if I find it is, I pray God will grant me the grace to accept and grow in that role.” It took faith. Choosing baptism necessitated changes in many areas of my life. I listened to latter day prophets, felt the confirmation of the Spirit and made every effort to re-align my life using the Gospel compass. For me it meant withdrawing from the Ph.D. program and completing my MS, after which I accepted a position as a research associate and enjoyed working in the field of molecular genetics for a time. When I married I left my career with a full determination to follow the council of the prophets and devote my full time, talent, energy, and attention to the roles of wife and mother. Often people ask, “Don’t you miss it?” “Aren’t you bored?” “Isn’t it a waste of all that education?” All I can answer is No! No! No! As exciting as it sounded, my career was just a job. The prayers and faithful choices of my early twenties continue to bless my life. The roles of wife and mother draw from me my very best. They offer abundant opportunities for learning and growth. When problems arise they are not confined to the fine points of scientific method, determining adequate experimental controls, or data analysis. The challenges I face often reach for solutions deep in my heart and extend consequences into eternity. My insufficiencies bring me to my knees and I learn to know my Savior by seeking and acknowledging His assistance. As my children embrace the Gospel in hundreds of baby steps, I rejoice with them. My heart and my life are full. I am amazed. It is a feeling not unlike that expressed by my young daughter during a hike with our family. Nearing the end of the hike, she grew fatigued and begged to be carried. As I lifted her to my shoulders, she exclaimed, “Oh, look at the flowers!” The wildflowers had been visible to me all along but she needed added height to see them. “Who put the flowers there, Mommy?” her question bubbled out. When I answered matter-of-factly that Heavenly Father made the flowers she sighed in wonder. “For me?” she asked, and with misted eyes I smiled and assured her, “Yes, Sweetheart, for you.” Expecting nothing more than the drudgery decried by Women’s Lib, I sacrificed my career to step into the place the Lord prepared for me, and was surprised by the joyful, soul-stirring, mind-expanding personal fulfillment I experienced. The roles of wife and mother take more intelligence, creativity, energy, skill, and heart than my career ever did, and return to me more joy than any career ever could. As is often the case when the Lord requires a sacrifice at our hands, we are the chief beneficiaries of our own sacrifice. He asks us to pay tithing, not because He wants or needs the money, but because it is important that we witness our own faith as we sacrifice. He asks us to acknowledge His hand in all things, not because He needs recognition but because He knows that gratitude opens our hearts, enabling us to feel His great love. He asks us to pray, not to ease a divine loneliness, but so that we will not lose sight of the fact that He has not left us alone. He asks us to remember Him, not to satisfy any egocentric desire for fame, but because when we remember Him, we also remember who we really are and why we are here. When He asks us, as women, to accept and grow in our divinely appointed role by devoting to it our full time, energy and talent, it is not simply because it’s so important to the next generation. He asks us to fill the place He designed for us because He knows that is the best way for us to meet our eternal destiny. I still believe that the Women’s Liberation Movement was essential for the spiritual, mental and physical well being of women in the world. By the time it began in the 1800’s, Satan had twisted the truth that “father presides in the home” until women were relegated to the status of property. Their agency restricted far too many were sadly abused. It had to stop. It was wrong. Society seemed like a pendulum, swung out to the limit in a place where women lacked rights, opportunities, and value. With the Women’s Liberation Movement the world began to swing back toward the central truth that all are equal before God. I imagine Satan cringed as women recognized their worth and the people of the world moved back to being centered in the truth. I see our adversary as an opportunist, however, and envision him giving the pendulum a huge shove in the direction we were already headed, causing us to swoop past the truth at the center to the lies on the other side. Some of these lies were the tenets of Women’s Lib in the 70’s, and many are still championed today. The Father of Lies would have us believe that caring for a home and family is a waste of time and ability, and that a woman of any intelligence can never expect to find fulfillment as a wife and mother. Women in search of happiness and fulfillment are directed instead to the world of men, and taught to compete in the workplace, to earn money and recognition. Not long ago I overheard two mothers conversing as they waited to retrieve their kindergartners. “When the teacher asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up, all my daughter could think to say was ‘a mommy’.” Said one mother. “That’s wonderful!” I sang in my heart during her brief pause. Then she continued. “I was so embarrassed! Guess I’ve got some work to do.” It breaks my heart to know that some full-time mothers don’t think enough of what they are doing to encourage their daughters in their natural desires to ‘be a mommy’. I am happy that our daughters have this as their highest and most cherished goal. Recognizing that it may not come to them, however, we encourage them to obtain an education, enabling them to support themselves if necessary and be contributing members of society. Education is never wasted on a mother. But complete fulfillment for a woman does not lie in education, or career, prestige, or wealth. The best way for a woman to find true happiness, peace and joy is by following Heavenly Father’s plan for her. This is the truth at the center. We are all equal in the sight of God – male and female. We are all His children but we are different and we have different roles to fill, divine destinies to meet. These truths are so beautifully and clearly presented in the Proclamation on the Family. When I first heard it, I thought it odd to make a proclamation that contained nothing new. Then I remembered my experience in graduate school when these truths were new to me, and recalled the faith it took me to accept them. As a member of the Church, I read the scriptures and sing the hymns that talk of Jesus seeking those who wander from the fold of God, and of lambs rescued and I recognize my own experience. I cannot tell what my experience would have been on that other course I simply recognize the profound blessings that are mine on the Lord’s path. I gratefully acknowledge the grace of God, which allowed me to accept and grow in my role as wife and mother. I rejoice in the place the Lord prepared for women – a place of unlimited potential for growth, development, beauty, and joy.   Show more Show less