I have a thing for place. I’m a bit fastidious about the arrangement of things, and the locations where things are set in. Now don’t get me wrong, I clutter up with the best of them (my specialty being piles of books at my desk). But I am fond of the notion of deliberate positioning. At home I may shuffle around the artwork and tschotskes to get everything in a just the right order. (I’ve been known to cock the wooden raven on the piano at a 45 degree angle to the look just right and I’m finicky about hanging pictures is particular groupings and arrangements down to the centimeter.) I attempt to order my kitchen into stations for efficiency. When planning for family pictures I thoughtfully cull through places that mean something: a park we frequent regularly, a telling landmark of the area we live in, or some place that served as a setting for some happy past memory. I realize this marks me as a sentimentalist, so be it. This fixation with fixation may just be one of my personal quirks of an appetite for control. That too. However, I’ll bet any real estate agent in the audience would say an “Amen!” when I advocate for location, location, location. Continue reading
“Did you have a boyfriend in high school, Sister Cruz?”
I froze. I can put on a smile, tell a lie that makes me look perfect or — be honest.
She looks at me in anticipation.
“Yeah, I did,” I say with hesitation. “I had my first boyfriend when I was 15. And some more after that. I kissed too many boys. Most of them were dumb.”
“Well, not literally dumb — just not the best idea for me to be with them, dumb. I hurt myself in the process. I focused on all the wrong things.”
I awkwardly stumble over myself as I try to explain how it can be hard in high school if you don’t have a boyfriend — feeling left out and all — but how waiting is just as good of an option. And how not kissing until you get married wouldn’t be so bad. Wait, back up, how if that’s what you want to do it’s not so bad. But uh, well, it’s okay to kiss someone if you feel like you want to kiss them — just don’t go crazy.
She smiles. She laughs. And I feel like an idiot.
When I was asked to be the second counselor in our ward’s Young Women, I was immediately excited. Then I felt terrified. I’m 22 — I don’t have the answers. I certainly don’t feel like a role model. Shoot, I could have been a Laurel when this girl was a Beehive. That’s scary.
I don’t know this girl very well, but conversation flows easily. We chat about everything — school, growing up, her ambitions, family, what marriage is like — whatever.
She is freely asking me questions, and though I’m answering honestly, I find myself constantly hesitating. I’m analyzing. Is this appropriate? Am I projecting the right image? Is this what an adult woman in the church is supposed to be?
Then the topic turns to the Young Women broadcast we just watched.
“I’m sorry,” she says, “but I don’t like listening to the sisters of the church speak.”
I laugh, surprised by how forward she is.
“I just feel like they’re being fake,” she says. “They’re so cheesy. Even when they’re talking about something sad, they’re smiling. Why do they do that?”
I don’t know. And that’s what I tell her. Maybe they smile because they’re ugly criers.
Dumb answer. But I don’t care. I feel relieved. I can abandon being overly self-critical. Fake smiles are not a requirement to quality church leadership.
I think back to myself at 17 — the same thing bothered me, too. I wondered if I had to fit a certain mold to be considered a faithful, strong woman. Now I realize how wrong that is.
There is no requirement that we be duplicates of each other. Individuality, even in righteous womanhood, is real and good. We demonstrate our divine attributes differently, but each is just as beautiful as the next.
How do you define being a faithful LDS women? When it comes to being a woman, how do you decipher the difference between godly expectations and cultural expectations? What do you think God expects from us as righteous, individual women?
In a couple of weeks my youngest daughter will receive her patriarchal blessing. She’s only thirteen, but for six months now she has been pestering me and my husband about getting her blessing. At first I brushed her off, thinking she wouldn’t be able to understand the blessing’s significance at such a young age, and told her it would be best if she waited until she was a little older. But she persisted. To her credit, for the past several months she has researched patriarchal blessings on her own, read talks and articles, asked me and my husband questions, fasted, pondered, and prayed. Her desire for her blessing has never waned, nor has her insistence that she is ready. Continue reading
Recently I attended the wedding luncheon of the daughter of one of my favorite BYU roommates. It’s been almost twenty-five years since Sherri and I were roommates, and she’s lived all over the world since she got married, currently residing just outside of Detroit, while I’ve lived in California and, for the past twenty years, Provo. But we attended each other’s weddings and have remained close friends over the years, even if several years go by between phone calls. I even had the privilege of being with Sherri and her husband, Curt, in the temple several years ago when they had their recently adopted Chinese daughter sealed to them. So when Sherri invited me to her daughter’s wedding luncheon in Salt Lake, I jumped at the chance to see my dear friend and celebrate her family’s happy day with her.
As I got ready for the wedding luncheon that morning, I took extra time doing my hair and makeup, because I once dated Sherri’s husband’s younger brother Matt (before Sherri and Curt got married). Whenever I attend Sherri’s extended family functions (a grand total of three times in the last twenty-five years), I run into Matt. Matt and I never dated seriously, but I consider him an old boyfriend of sorts, so I want to look my best whenever I happen to see him at, say, a temple sealing or a wedding luncheon—it’s a pride thing, you know? I just don’t want him thinking, “Wow, I really dodged a bullet there.” Continue reading