Several days ago I was at a park with my children. There was nothing particularly interesting about this park except for two older boys at one corner play-fighting. I don’t like my children to watch or engage in violent behavior so I tried to keep their attention on the other side of the park. But we kept hearing snippets from their dialogue: ” I have the power.” “Ha ha, I just took your power.” “You can’t take it because I’m invincible.” “I have your power, I have your power.” “No. I have THE POWER.”
My daughter, Sylvia, became more and more distracted by their exchange and before I could stop her, marched over to the two boys. Sylvia stared at them intently and then proclaimed, “Now I have the Power.” She snatched at the air in front of their faces as if, in this one single gesture, all of their power and the power of the universe would be instantly transferred to her. The look on their faces was priceless because, at least momentarily, my three year old daughter had taken the power.
I was stunned but also delighted and so proud that this spirited little girl is my daughter. Sylvia is in that beautiful time before the forces of the world try to convince her she is smaller than she actually is. But along with my pride there was also a twinge of sadness and a jaded feeling of “if only it was that easy.”
But what if it is?
As I’ve reflected on this experience over the past couple of days I’ve come to think that maybe Sylvia is on to something. In her little brain Sylvia knew that these boys would never just come over and bestow power upon her. No, she had to take what she felt was rightfully hers to have.
I wonder if this isn’t analogous to the situation that we Mormon women find ourselves in? The issue of women and the priesthood has been talked to death but one thing is for sure, the male leaders of our church aren’t going to walk over any time soon and bestow the priesthood upon us just because we ask nicely.
But the Power of God is available to us all. We as women have every right to declare, “I have the Power.” To be clear, I am not talking about the institutional power that comes in the form of priesthood. I don’t believe it would do women any good to all of the sudden start to perform living ordinances just because we declare we have the power to do so. But I believe the scriptures are very clear that we are all–man, woman, child–endowed with the ability to access God’s power and utilize it for the good of our sisters and brothers. So many of us sit on the sidelines blaming our inaction on powerlessness and a lack of authority. This is a great lie that has been perpetrated and the fact that so many sisters feel as if they have no right or ability to be a conduit of God’s love and power is to the detriment of us all.
Two years ago I received a blessing. I have been the fortunate recipient of many blessings in my life and while they have all been meaningful, this one was special. I had been suffering for some months from a major depressive episode and was in a very dark place. While I was never in immediate danger, I longed for and sometimes considered a permanent end to my suffering. It was during that time that I left my home to meet with some old friends. I had become adept at hiding just how serious my situation was; nobody in my family or ward knew and even mr. mraynes was unaware of the extent of my depression. Though I had my brave face on these women knew intuitively that I was in trouble.
Towards the end of our time together my dear friend asked if she and the other women could give me a blessing. I stalled at first, not wanting to admit that I needed help and also a little afraid of going down that path, but I was so tired and so desperate that in the end I agreed.
It was like so many of the priesthood blessings I have received from my husband and father; a kitchen chair was pulled into the middle of the room and the women gathered around me except that they placed their hands all over my body. A pair on my head, another on my shoulders, some on my arms and my hands, thighs and feet. The feeling was amazing, warmth and connection emanating from those hands and coursing through my body. And then she spoke. She did not use priesthood parlance but the more informal rhetoric of love, friendship and intimacy. My friend spoke of the things that she loved about me, how she knew I was in pain and blessed me that I would be able to escape it. Then another woman spoke, sharing her thoughts and hopes for me. And another, telling me that God knew me and had a special work for me to do. Each woman in that circle spoke, some blessing me some just expressing love. And I wept, tears of sadness and gratitude. When they were done my body felt alive again. After months of feeling only numb the energy in my body was overwhelming but also exquisite.
This blessing was my life raft. I was drowning and these women used the power of God in every sense of what that means to save me. Within two weeks my depression had lifted and has yet to return. I made it through an unexpected pregnancy and the start of my graduate program without any relapse at all. I was healed. This is nothing short of a miracle and it was all because these wonderful women stood up against every thing they were ever taught about authority and power and rejected it. Instead they saw a sister in need of comfort and said, “I have the power to help her.” My gratitude to these women knows no bounds.
Utilizing the power of God requires faith, confidence and a willingness to serve the children of God. There is no regulating this and exclusively assigning it to one sex. I am reminded of those two little boys in the park, bickering about who has the power and how they can use it. This is a ridiculous exercise that has no meaning unless we give it meaning. How sad that we as a church have done exactly this. What a tragedy that we are losing out on the unique blessings women can provide if only they were encouraged to fully access the power of God. It’s time to stop waiting for that encouragement, it’s not coming. Now is the time to reach out and grab the power that God has for us. I have a feeling They have just been waiting for us to say, “Now I have the Power.”