I watched her as she proudly carried her baby son into the sanctuary, oblivious to the stares of those who may have been critical of her attire, her hairstyle, or of the fact that the father of her child was nowhere to be seen. She was excited to be a part of the LDS Church, having been baptized in the middle of her pregnancy, and was eager to share her newly minted testimony with her baby son.
I watched her as she stood holding her baby son, with a look of expectancy, clearly waiting to have the circle form around her and her son. Instead, the circle was formed without her and her baby son was taken from her arms by one of the men from the circle while another one of the men stepped away from the circle long enough to escort her to a seat.
I watched the look on her face change from absolute joy to confusion to anguish. I watched her expressive face as her emotions and feelings battled for supremacy. I could see that one part of her wanted to insist on being included in the circle while another part of her wanted to be happy that her baby son was being blessed, even if she was excluded from the circle. I watched as the latter part seemed to win the battle.
I sat and listened to the baby blessing and I thought about how this beautiful baby boy was in a circle that included no one who was related to him. I thought about how, if his biological male parent (even though he was acting more like a sperm donor than a father) walked into the sanctuary at that moment and announced who he was, he would have been able to join in the circle. I thought about how his biological female parent who had carried him for nine months and who had given birth to him was denied that privilege.
I thought about the disconnect between celebrating families while at the same time denying her and her baby son the ability to participate in his blessing as a family. I could come up with no reason that made sense to me for denying either of them that privilege and I wept for her, for her baby son, and for all of my sisters who had been denied the opportunity to participate in their children’s blessings.
I left the sanctuary that day with the look of anguish that was on her face etched in my memory. I serve a God of love and I do not believe that blessing a child without including the mother is an act of love or that it is divinely inspired. Instead, the memory of her face serves to strengthen my conviction that the fight for the ordination of LDS women and for the inclusion of women in all aspects of our faith is divinely inspired.
Honoring our Past,
Envisioning our Future.
Bryndis Roberts, the author of this post, is Ordain Women’s Executive Board Chair-elect. For more of Bryndis’ writing you can also check out the amazing blog; femwoc.com.