Hi, I’m Sharon. A month after my mom died of breast cancer, I flew across the country to attend BYU-Idaho. The year was 2000 and I was 18-years-old. While I mourned her death, I was drawn to messages about motherhood. I read quotes in my college textbooks that said, “Of course, as a woman you can do exceptionally well in the workplace, but is that the best use of your divinely appointed talents and feminine traits?” And, “The divine work of women involves companionship, homemaking, and motherhood” (Eternal Marriage Student Manual, 2001, pp. 347-349). As a life long member of the church, these types of statements always seemed complementary and I accepted them.
Since I was convinced motherhood was God’s plan for me, I naturally made my goals centered around getting married and becoming a mom. By the age of 25, I was married, staying home to raise my three kids, and had callings in the primary and relief society presidencies. I was living the mormon dream. I knew unfavorable economic, political, social, and cultural institutions to women existed, but if asked, I would have denied I was experiencing one first hand.
It wasn’t until I trained for the 2012 NYC Marathon that I took the time to process my role as a woman. The more I ran, the stronger I became. On my long runs, I was able to spend a lot of time thinking about my role in the LDS church and realize the messages I received during my formative years were damaging, hurtful, and sexist. Over the next 3 years, I would spent a lot of time researching and redefining what womanhood means to me and what roles we should have in the world.
Through it all, I’ve come to this conclusion:
Even though BYU-Idaho still includes the same sexist quotes in their textbooks, I’m grateful for my time there. It’s where I met my wonderful husband, which led to having three amazing kids. It also gave me a strong desire to help eliminate all forms of discrimination and be empathic to issues women face today. Because of that, I regard my life in the LDS Church and my time at BYU-Idaho as a gift. Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And I quite like myself because I realize what needs to be done. Women need to be ordained. Not only in the LDS church, but in all religions. Gender equally needs to happen in all organizations. I want to help women, especially my daughter, live in a world where there are no limits. If submitting my profile here helps do that, sign me up! I’m here to support Ordain Women. I’m excited for change.