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To Mormons: Why Relief Society should run for president

Chrisy Ross - LDS Living - October 03, 2012

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Chrisy Ross, author of LDS Living's popular "To Mormons" articles, shares more insights on living as a non-Mormon among Mormons. As her family has lived in Utah and observed LDS culture from a different perspective, they have concluded that the best presidential candidate this year is the Relief Society.

On Tuesday, November 6, 1984, I was a freshman at the University of Texas in Austin, 18 years old, and excited to cast a vote in my first U.S. presidential election. 

My parents lived in Arizona at the time and I remember the telephone conversation that evening. Dad, the conservative parent, and Mom, the liberal one, were both on the line.

“Who’d you vote for, honey?” Dad asked.

“She doesn’t have to tell us,” my mother scolded. “You don’t have to tell us, Chrisy.”

It was a big year. Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate, was Walter Mondale’s choice on the Democratic ticket. Incumbent President Ronald Reagan was a shoo-in, though.

“I voted for Reagan,” I said.

Simultaneously, Dad cheered and Mom groaned.

I’ll never forget the sense of responsibility I felt as I pulled the curtain closed after I entered the voting booth. And the sense of pride and contribution as I whipped the curtain open after voting.

Almost 30 years later, I appreciate my right to vote exponentially more. And the truth is, even though Mondale was a snore and President Reagan was so charismatic and President-like, it was inspiring as a young woman to see a female candidate on any ticket. 

We’ve yet to see a woman hold the office of president or vice president, and the possibility of witnessing that event in my lifetime is exciting. I’m fortunate to have grown up with examples of strong, intelligent, compassionate, productive women. As an adult, I have girlfriends in a variety of age groups who model tremendous character. And, over the years I’ve seen groups of women come together to accomplish what, to me, seems like the impossible.

So, this election year, I’m considering a write-in candidate: Relief Society.

Many women’s groups and clubs are worthy of my consideration. However, my experiences with and attentive gawking at Relief Society actions and behaviors over the past year leave me no choice but to cast my “she-delegate” vote in their direction.

Why?

Because I’ve seen the Relief Society’s ability to complete a task, solve a problem, extend help to the sick, sad, and suffering, feed massive amounts of people on a budget, stick to a budget, clean up giant messes, mend fences with one another (or fake it in the name of accomplishing a goal), work together in spite of differing ages and opinions, and hit a deadline. 

The beautiful and integral part of the group’s effectiveness is that goals are accomplished even when a couple of women might be in the midst of a personal tiff. I’m aware of the rare and occasional Ward Hopper who buckles under offense and punches out entirely, but overall it appears that disagreements and personality clashes are set aside. Undercurrents be damned! The project will be done!

An example of Relief Society’s resourcefulness, my friend and neighbor fed approximately 5,000 youth healthy snacks for three days during the Book of Mormon Live production in our area. She did this for around $200. (My numbers might be exaggerated.) The event wasn’t a Relief Society-specific responsibility, but I consider her success a result of Relief Society training. 

Another example: Last spring I spoke at a Relief Society meeting in Provo. The lovely refreshments – three different parfaits – appeared the moment my talk ended. Several women worked in a complimentary and synchronized fashion to ensure everyone had their preferred parfait in hand. The ease and coordination of the evening impressed me. Young mothers with babies, mature women who moved a little slower, all worked efficiently together.

I helped a friend with a local poetry gala in March. At the end of the evening we were cleaning up. I noticed my friend washing a tray that I had brought food on.

“You don’t need to wash that for me," I said. “I’ll do it when I get home.”

And although the gala wasn’t a Church-related function, my LDS friend grinned and said, “Oh no. That’s not the Relief Society way.”

I knew it. There is a way.

Regardless of political affiliation—I know that not every Relief Society member in Utah votes red—women compromise on defining objectives while managing budgets and deadlines. And by golly, they cross the finish line.

That’s who we need running this country.

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Read more “To Mormons” articles by Chrisy. You can also check out her great book, To Mormons, With Love, available at Deseret Book.
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© LDS Living, 2012.
Comments 2 comments

bridget said...

12:19 PM
on Oct 09, 2012

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I'd like to say the Relief Society functions the way it was meant to, but I've seen firsthand that it often does not. And why? It's because the women prefer to engage in gossip rather than work. I've heard inappropriate things both in Relief Society meeting on Sunday and in presidency meetings for the Relief Society. Primary is a much better place to be, because at least the women are focused on the children instead of on themselves. As for helping people in need, it isn't done on the scale it ought to be done. Many people are often overlooked by the Relief Society. For example, recently I learned of a young mother who was experiencing severe illness due to pregnancy. When I called the V.T. supervisor to find out if anything was being done, I learned the problem was known and nothing was being done about it. I stopped by with some books for the mother's kids and some encouragement, but really, I think the Relief Society should exert itself more. This is not the only time I have encountered resistance in the Relief Society against doing basic things. The praises given to the Relief Society in church are often unwarranted, as many of the sisters aren't even doing their visiting teaching, especially in the spirit in which it was meant. I've been told by 90+ women I'm the best visiting teacher they've ever had, and this should not be the case, as I've never cleaned their house or even baked dinner for them. I've only seen them every month and given them birthday presents and Christmas presents. Tell me how it can be possible that I could be the best visiting teacher for someone who's over 90 and who's been in the church all her life? It shouldn't be possible. The only way it would be possible is if Relief Society is more concerned with praising itself and sounding good than it is with doing what pleases the Lord.

bskia said...

06:25 AM
on Oct 11, 2012

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That's pretty sad, Sister. But, aren't you the Relief Society? And, didn't you "exert yourself" by taking charge and stepping up? You did! Then hurray for the Relief Society. Don't be so harsh. I'm guessing that 90+ year old sister thinks every visiting teacher she had was the best one ever. Wow! Birthday presents and Christmas presents. What do you mean "ONLY"?! That's wonderful! I wouldn't mix up encouragement and stories of success with self praise and aggrandizement. I've been a member my whole life and have never seen the Relief Society brag about themselves. I've been impressed with the Sisters IN the Relief Society. And, just like the Priesthood, none of us are perfect. But, we're all hopefully on the same path, going the same direction. For me, I find there are those with greater capacities that me and can do more and run faster, but there are many who move a little slower. It's more about the direction than the speed. And, mostly those are the people we are helping. The ones we're slightly ahead of. Have patience. Be a good example, like it appears you are. But, don't splash everyone with such dark paint. Try to keep the paint on the fence and not on everyone's clothes. I love you. Keep up the great work.
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