Self Identity

“Surely there has not been another time in history when women have questioned their self-worth as harshly and critically as in the second half of the twentieth century. Many women are searching, almost frantically, as never before, for a sense of personal purpose and meaning; and many LDS women are searching, too, for eternal insight and meaning in their femaleness.

“If I were Satan and wanted to destroy a society, I think I would stage a full-blown blitz on women. I would keep them so distraught and distracted that they would never find the calming strength and serenity for which their sex has always been known.

“Satan has effectively done that, catching us in the crunch of trying to be superhuman instead of striving to reach our unique, God-given potential within such diversity. He tauntingly teases us that if we don’t have it all—fame, fortune, families, and fun, and have it all the time—we have been short-changed and are second-class citizens in the race of life. As a sex we are struggling, our families are struggling, and our society is struggling. Drugs, teenage pregnancies, divorce, family violence, and suicide are some of the ever-increasing side effects of our collective life in the express lane.

“Too many of us are struggling and suffering, too many are running faster than they have strength, expecting too much of themselves. As a result, we are experiencing new and undiagnosed stress-related illnesses…

“We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection. We must not allow our own guilt, the feminist books, the talk-show hosts, or the whole media culture to sell us a bill of goods—or rather a bill of no goods. We can become so sidetracked in our compulsive search for identity and self-esteem that we really believe it can be found in having perfect figures or academic degrees or professional status or even absolute motherly success. Yet, in so searching externally, we can be torn from our true internal, eternal selves. We often worry so much about pleasing and performing for others that we lose our uniqueness—that full and relaxed acceptance of one’s self as a person of worth and individuality. We become so frightened and insecure that we cannot be generous toward the diversity and individuality, and yes, problems, of our neighbors. Too many women with these anxieties watch helplessly as their lives unravel from the very core that centers and sustains them. Too many are like a ship at sea without sail or rudder, “tossed to and fro,” as the Apostle Paul said (see Eph. 4:14), until more and more of us are genuinely, rail-grabbingly seasick.

“Where is the sureness that allows us to sail our ship, whatever winds may blow, with the master seaman’s triumphant cry, “Steady as she goes”? Where is the inner stillness we so cherish and for which our sex traditionally has been known?

“I believe we can find our steady footing and stilling of the soul by turning away from physical preoccupations, superwoman accomplishments, and endless popularity contests, and returning instead to the wholeness of our soul, that unity in our very being that balances the demanding and inevitable diversity of life.

“One woman, not of our faith, whose writings I love, is Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She comments on the female despair and general torment of our times:

“’The Feminists did not look … far [enough] ahead; they laid down no rules of conduct. For them it was enough to demand the privileges. … And [so] woman today is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs, but still ignorant of what will satisfy them. With our garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them. With our pitchers [in hand] we attempt … to water a field, [instead of] a garden. We throw ourselves indiscriminately into the committees and causes. Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distractions. Instead of stilling the center, the axis of the wheel, we add more centrifugal activities to our lives—which tend to throw us [yet more] off balance.

“’Mechanically we have gained, in the last generation, but spiritually we have … lost.’”

“Regardless of the time period, she adds, “[for women] the problem is [still] how to feed the soul.” (Gift from the Sea, New York: Pantheon Books, 1975, pp. 51–52.)

Sister Patricia T. Holland, “One Thing Needful”: Becoming women of Greater Faith in Christ, Ensign, October 1987.

Sister Holland continues to explain in vivid imagery her ideas of how to find the inner soul, to discover who you really are.  I suggest reading the article in its entirety.

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