Last Saturday I volunteered at Salt Lake City’s Color Run. The happiest 5K run on the planet. Volunteers splashed powdered color on runners wearing tutus, rainbow headbands, and striped socks. It was pretty incredible to watch.
The run benefited two charities. Global Citizen – a movement, website, and app invested in ending extreme world poverty, and UN Women of Utah – an organization working to help women and children in a variety of ways including refugee services, eliminating prostitution, and advocating education for girls in Africa.
My friend, Nikki (pictured above) is the go-to girl for both. Years ago, through the International Refugee Committee, she connected me to a Sudanese family that I spent time with during my college years, helping them acclimate to a new life in the United States.
Saturday was the first time in years I’ve volunteered somewhere beyond math facts and reading at the elementary school. And it got me thinking. When I do have a little more time, as kids go to school, and life cracks open a bit, how will I spend it?
My interest was piqued when a friend shared a FAIR talk with me, given by Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities. I thought it interesting that she was asked to talk on a subject unrelated (so I thought) to her work. A topic that has worn us out of late: Women in the Church.
She admits to feeling unqualified (although I beg to differ) and begins,
Because of the topic and because of how diverse people feel about this topic, I don’t really see that there are a lot of ways for me to be successful in this… Last night when I was getting ready, I thought, Why did I even say ‘yes’ to this assignment? I’m not a scholar, I’m not a FAIR contributor, I’m not a church spokesperson. There’s very little to recommend [me] and I’m not going to say anything very startling here today that you’re going to think, wow, that was new! So I started to think, why did I say yes? But the reason I said yes when they called was I want to go on record from my own experience. And my own experience has been incredibly empowering.
I listened to her entire talk this morning, and felt impressed to share it with you. Her experience is empowering. And so are her words. They are full of light and energy. And I hope you find, as I did, comfort, enlightenment, and even rejoicing, in what she has to say.
She does a marvelous job of teaching the church’s doctrine on gender and women, which she then reconciles with practice. Pointing out that sometimes there is a disconnect between the two.
Mid-presentation, Eubank asks the question I had just been considering, “Where should I be spending my energy and my intellectual curiosity… what should I be worrying about?”
I loved her answer, with respect to the issue regarding women in the church.
“It’s not very political to say this but sometimes I think we have the luxury to worry about things that are less significant.”
Her work of distributing church funds and aid around the globe obviously colors her perspective and how she sees the church’s place in the world. The day before her presentation she was working on getting aid to thousands of Christians who were expelled from their homes by ISIS and are now in Kurdistan. Hungry, homeless, and stripped of everything valuable they owned.
She sees first-hand how the church elevates women, gives them hope, and saves their families, particularly in places where men, businesses, and governments, oppress women. That said, she is not unaware that practice of the doctrine, at times, can be improved.
Give yourself the gift of reading or listening to Eubank’s talk (link below).
Sharon (if you see this), I’m so glad you had the courage to say yes to this assignment. I’m grateful for the wisdom you’ve acquired over the years. And I appreciate your masterful collaboration of truth on a subject we all care about, but that most of us have had the luxury of worrying over.
Readers, if you find time to listen to her talk, I’d love to hear your thoughts.