Life's Work: Smashing the Patriarchy with Personal Revelation (Alma 5-7)

Monday, June 1, 2020

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Scriptures mentioned in this episode:

  • Joel 2:28-29
  • Alma 5:46-47
  • D&C 8:2-3
  • Alma 7:22

Transcribed by Maddie Daetwyler of @lightenprint

C: Hi, I’m Channing

E: And I’m Elise.

C: And this is the Faithful Feminists podcast.

E: But this is not just any Come Follow Me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the Come Follow Me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood. We are here to show you all the really good ways that faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience.

C: We’ve saved you a seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about Alma chapters 5 through 7 for the dates June 1st through the 7th. We're so glad you're here.

E: Welcome back! Today we get to talk about two things that we're super excited and passionate about: personal revelation, and talking about our life's work. 

C: We're thrilled that these two topics show up in this week's reading. For the last couple of weeks, we followed Alma through the adventures of the first half of his life. It's been a pretty wild ride. Alma’s seen an angel, he's come back from a coma completely transformed, and he works really hard to restore the church. And eventually becomes high judge and priest over the Nephites, but the story doesn't stop there. He also encounters Nehor and Amlici, who eventually bring war to Almas people. At the very end of last week's chapters, Alma decides that government life is not for him. So he passes his responsibilities of a judge to a man named Nephihah so that he can become a missionary. And this decision begins a whole new chapter in Alma’s life. He slaps his old missionary badge right on and wastes no time getting right to the good stuff. So that brings us to Alma chapter 5, where Alma is preaching the good word of repentance in Zarahemla to the Nephites.

E: Chapter 5 is comprised entirely of Alma’s sermon to the Nephites. He covers a lot of ground asking them to consider a mighty change of heart and to look forward with an eye of faith, to have clean hands and pure hearts, and sing the song of redeeming love.

C: Side note: I love some of these poetic phrases that he uses, and I'm really happy that they've made their way into our everyday language at church. It just seems like we get a little poetry every time we go to church, which for me is definitely a high point.

E: Among this sermon, Alma spends some time teaching us about what his personal revelation experience looks like. He has seen an angel, but in chapter 5, verses 46 and 47, he says that it was fasting and prayer that has allowed him to come to know the things that he knows to be true. Not the fact that he saw an angel. And I think this helps us distinguish between different types of revelation. There are visions, there are dreams, there are visitations by angels, but if you're anything like me, maybe the most common way that you receive personal revelation is as a prompting or whispering from the Holy Ghost. And it's the Holy Ghost that makes an impression on our soul in a way that kind of seals the message in a more significant way than anything we could hear or see. It's that touching of the soul that seals the deal.

C: We really appreciate the way that Alma offers his experience with personal revelation, and kind of just lays it out black and white and says, “Look, this is how I came to all my conclusions.” On the church website included in their gospel topics they offer some advice or suggestions on what this process of receiving revelation looks like. They kind of outline it as “Here are all of the steps to receive personal revelation.” And so they say that we should pray for guidance, we should be reverent and humble, and keep the commandments. Partake of the sacrament worthily, study the scriptures every day, take time to ponder and patiently seek God's will. And while these are all super helpful in maybe the beginning searches for how to achieve revelation, in my experience, this has been only one way that for me, I have been able to experience revelation. And I came across a quote from a book titled Women Who Run with the Wolves, written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. And I feel like she offers some much needed insight and nuance to what this process of personal revelation can look like. She says, “Each woman has potential access to personal revelation. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, prayer, and making, singing, drumming, active imagining, or any activity which requires intense altered consciousness. A woman receives revelation through yearning, and by seeking something that she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She receives it through deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts.” And this has been my experience. And if you find this quote, you'll see that she actually doesn't ever mention personal revelation. She calls it by a different name, but she's talking about the same thing. And really, what she's getting at is listening to our intuition. And for me, that's how I receive revelation, is by listening to what is stirring in my soul. 

E: So as Channing and I were reading the scriptures and preparing the outline, it really was Alma’s experience with personal revelation that stood out to us. And so we wanted to explore why. Why is this experience of personal revelation significant? And we think perhaps it's because the way that Alma describes it makes it available to all people. We don't have to have an angel appear to us to know something is true, or to feel like changes need to be made.

C: Elise, you make a really good point. And what I love about this, too, is that Alma makes no secret about what his revelatory process looks like. He's super clear that revelation is an equal opportunity experience. Anyone can pray. Anyone can fast. You don't have to be a man. You don't have to hold the priesthood. And you don't have to have a certain calling to ask for and receive revelation. And there's a scripture that Elise and I both really love that comes from the Old Testament book of Joel that specifically talks about revelation. And for me, personally, I don't know how you feel about this Elise, but for me personally, I have always fallen back on the scripture as a really powerful statement about the equal potential of men and women to have access to God.

E: Yes, absolutely. I completely agree. 

C: So this is the Lord talking. The Lord says, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall have dreams and your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days, will I pour out my spirit.” 

E: In this scripture, it really highlights that God is no respecter of persons. God is willing to engage in communication and revelation with any and everyone. Not even, you don't even have to ask Alma, didn't ask to have the angel appear to him. 

C: Yeah. Like he wanted it in the first place, right?

E: Right, right, right. Revelation can happen. Yes, of course. As we try and stay close to the spirit and try and use the gift of discernment, that will certainly help us feel closer to the messages that we receive. But revelation is an experience that everyone can engage in. 

C: So as we were considering this topic of personal revelation, and what Alma’s experience was, and what our experience has been, one of the questions that was at the forefront of our minds was what do we do when we receive personal revelation that feels contrary to the church structure or the roles that are designated for women. 

E: And I think an example of what we're talking about actually comes -- so if you do search by topic in the Gospel Library app, you can search for revelation and it kind of outlines some scriptures and it gives some talks that you can look into. And there is one woman's talk that's included and it's from 2010 by Julie B. Beck, and it's titled And Upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit, just like the scripture in Joel that Channing read. But this talk that addresses personal revelation, here's how Sister Beck tries to help women understand what their revelations should look like. “A good woman must constantly resist a luring and deceptive message from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities, and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.” I think two things are happening in this passage. One, it reinforces traditional gender roles that say, “Women, don't seek after independence, you have everything you need right in your current home and your current married relationship.” And also there's a subtle hint of “There is a correct way to prioritize your life.” And perhaps we can even go so far to say that the correct way that Sister Beck is pointing to is the way that's been outlined by the leaders in the church, regardless of what your personal revelation says. 

C: Right. Because her responsibilities are clearly defined by men. Her responsibilities are to be in the home. They are to have children and nurture those children. And so, because those are her jobs, then she doesn't deserve a life of greater ease and independence. But I feel like as women, we have to be wary about quotes from general authorities, or even from scriptures written by men, that try to say,  “Women, your life should look just like this. Which means that your personal revelation should look just like this.”

E: And the dangerous thing about that is that it makes us question, if we do receive personal revelation or prompting that feels outside of what the church has designated as our role or our path, it makes us think, “Hang on. I don't know if that was from God, because I've been taught that this is the way. But I do feel this prompting. So what do I do?”  

C: And then it just kind of creates this inner dialogue that is essentially happening within us, where parts of ourselves are talking to us, and we're like, which one is right? Is this part that's coming from my personal revelation right? Or do I trust the things that I've always been told? And I feel like the there's a story that we're all really familiar with that we can actually pull from to offer us some wisdom when we're experiencing this inner conflict, and that's the story of Eve. So we're in the garden of Eden, and Eve and Adam have been given conflicting commitments. They are told they should stay in the Garden of Eden, they shouldn't eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but they should also have kids. And so it's kind of like, “Uh, you literally told me the exact opposite, so which one do I do?” And I think Eve offers some wisdom for this experience of inner conflict. We spent some time talking in the first episode about the meaning of the word beguiled, and about her process of working through, essentially, personal revelation, and honoring her inner and intuitive knowing that her mission in life was to transgress a little bit, and to kind of go against what the structure is telling her to do. And so she does, for the benefit of all of us, because we know that if she hadn't eaten the fruit, none of us would be here right now. And so I think this is a great example of seeing how sometimes transgressing against the structure is the more righteous and helpful decision to make, even though it might come at a personal risk to us.

E: I also think that Eve teaches us to trust our personal revelation, to trust and lean into our personal relationship with God, to know what we know and not default to other people. 

C: Right, because Adam tells her, “Remember, we shouldn't eat the fruit,” and she's like, “Yeah, but… all this other stuff.” And he's like, “No, I'm not eating the fruit.” Eventually he does, but she trusts herself and she trusts the revelation that she receives. And I think that we can see her story as an opportunity and a teaching in doing the same for ourselves. 

E: As it stands, the church recognizes and encourages personal revelation, but they also say that God speaks directly to the prophet, and only the prophet can receive revelation for the whole church, and bishops receive revelation for their wards. And oftentimes it's higher up leaders’ personal revelation that trumps our personal revelation. And this is a form of hierarchy. This is how patriarchy gets thrown into the mix. And we wanted to ask, how do hierarchy and patriarchy interfere with women's personal revelation? And patriarchy here, yes, is valuing and privileging men's experience and men's understandings over women's experience and their understandings, but it also refers to whose personal revelation is believed and is valid, and is given as the shared experience among the whole church. And that's men's. 

C: Elise, you are essentially a firehose of great wisdom and we can't all drink at the rate that you're offering us. So let's circle back to some of the things that you spoke about because I'm excited about literally everything you said.

E: Ok, so let's focus on the question then, how do hierarchy and patriarchy interfere with women's personal revelation? 

C: So one of the first answers to this question that we have is we believe that hierarchy and patriarchy create a structure of power and a sense of authority and exclusivity around God's word and revelation. So there's kind of this understanding that, yeah, sure, God speaks to everyone, but God especially speaks directly to the prophet to receive revelation for the church, and especially, and directly, to bishops, to receive revelation for their wards and bishops, and especially to your husband, or if you're in a relationship, to receive revelation for your family, because he presides over your family, according to the Family, a Proclamation to the World. And all of these experiences of revelation trump your experience of revelation because you're a woman, so you're not your husband, you're not a bishop, and you're not a prophet. So the structure and hierarchy of whose revelation is more important than the person beneath them, just kind of says that, “Yep. People can receive revelation for themselves, but only if it falls within the predetermined structure of what is and what is not okay.”

E: And this hierarchy and patriarchy teaches women to start distrusting their own personal experience and their own personal revelation, and defaulting to outside authority. And you can see how that is really disruptive, and it starts…

C: …it literally rips women apart, because if you can't trust yourself, where do you go? Then you'll always be looking outside for validation. You'll always be looking outside for someone to tell you what to do next. And so you're disempowered, because you can't trust yourself. I seriously get so angry thinking about this because essentially what has happened is patriarchy has super subtly swooped in and said, “Women...” -- it is tearing women from themselves. It is tearing women from their womanhood. It's tearing them from the ability to be whole, and basically says that part of yourself that goes against anything that we tell you what to do is not only rebellious, but then you add theology on top of it. And it's like, she sinful she's. She's bad. That's the part of you that's going to take you down to hell. And instead of embracing a woman's wholeness, and realizing that that's actually what's going to elevate her spiritually, they essentially disempower for disempower her from ever being able to reach her spiritual potential because they cut her off from a part of herself. How can you ever be perfect if you are never whole? It's literally impossible because they mean the exact same thing. You can never be perfect if you're cutting parts of yourself off and not trusting yourself. I just get so mad. 

E: And you've said it just spot on. Hierarchy and patriarchy make us sacrifice what we know and default to, I don't know how to say it any differently, to default to outside authority so that we don't trust ourselves. We stop seeking our own personal relationship with God and relying on our own innate emotional experience with God, and with personal revelation, and we start looking towards an outside voice to tell us what to do. And just like you said, it, it rips us apart, because I have to start not knowing what I know. Right? I have to start saying I had this personal experience with God. I feel called in this direction, but I have to forget about that so that I can follow the church structure, and no one's to blame here except patriarchy, right? Because that's the way that women survive in patriarchy, by turning away from the parts of themselves that they know in order to look towards someone else to tell them what to do, that's how you survive. And I get that, but I hope that we can also see how absolutely damaging it is to women, to womanhood, and to women's spiritual relationships with God.

C: Yeah, it's a loss of the deepest kind. I don't even have words… when I think about the damage that it's done to me and the damage that I see it do in the women around me, just as an observer, like, yeah. First I'm mad, like I literally just was, but underneath that, I grieve so deeply this loss that women have to their own selves, it's so it's so awful. And it starts so young. You can't grow up in this world as a woman and not be disconnected and dismembered from some parts of yourself. And so the loss starts early. And so it's for forever. It’s a whole entire life's process to try and piece those parts back together and sew them up, and heal them and become your own self. And it's just, it's, it's so hard. And I just, I feel really pulled in the direction to also mention that this doesn't just happen to women. This is a big part of patriarchy that patriarchy cuts men off from themselves, too. Patriarchy dismembers men, too. It tells men that these parts of you are masculine and fit into our definition of masculinity. And so it's okay for you to be those things. It's okay for you to show those parts of yourself. But anything else that doesn't fit into what we think is masculine, and this is a patriarchy speaking, it's not any one person in particular, then men, you can't show those parts. You can't be that part of yourself. And so, it does this to men, too. Literally I cannot say this enough, I will say it forever until I die, patriarchy hurts everyone. Everyone loses in patriarchy. And so as feminists, we're not working against men, we're working against patriarchy, and I will say that forever and ever and ever until the day that I die.

E: And even though we're being heavily critical of hierarchy and patriarchy, we also find that personal revelation is absolutely liberating. And this is why I think that the understanding of personal revelation is just right. It is God-given. And we know that deep within us. We have the emotional spiritual experience with God to know when personal revelation is occurring. We know that love and that relationship and that trust, but we are forced to sacrifice it and forget it under hierarchy and patriarchy in the name of being a good member or in the name of sustaining our leaders, we are asked, not even asked, we are forced to sacrifice and forget the parts of ourselves that know God, so that we can know a structure. So what really has to happen is that we have to unlearn what we learned about personal revelation and the church structure in order to remember and relearn what we knew all along, which is that God speaks to us and the Holy Ghost works within us to prompt us and tell us all things that are true.

C: And that we can trust ourselves. That everything we need is already inside us. And I think right along with this conversation is a question that I feel like is so important to ask ourselves. What do we, as women, lose if we align ourselves with the church over our own personal revelation? And this is a valid question, because it's asking us, what if we decide to do what we've always done? What do we lose? What is the potential that we're missing out on? Because part of feminism is imagining a new life, imagining a new way of being, imagining a new society. And we can't, I'm essentially answering the question here for you, but I really feel strongly that we can't just ignore those parts of ourselves and ignore those experiences of personal revelation if we ever hope to get somewhere different, if we ever hope to achieve something different than what we already have. 

E: And a lot of these ideas about being split from ourselves, having to forget what we knew at the beginning, all of these ideas come from someone that we just love. Her name is Carol Gilligan, and she's the author of a book called The Birth of Pleasure: A New Map of Love.

And she's a researcher that studies young boys and girls, and tries to track when this dissociation happens. And dissociation is about splitting ourselves off in order to have something, so sacrificing ourselves in order to conform with what society wants. And so, I think Gilligan can really help us answer this question about what women lose if we align ourselves with the church structure over our own personal relationships and revelations from God. She writes, and I'm going to paraphrase it so it makes sense for our conversation, but essentially she says that women give up relationship with God in order to have relationships. Which means that we mute our voice and our understanding and our knowledge in order to be with the structure, to be with the people of the church, and to be accepted, as opposed to focusing on our true relationship with God. That's what we lose. We give up a relationship in order to have relationships, and that's a tragic love story. So really, what's a girl to do when she follows the steps of gaining personal revelation and she receives her answer?

C: And honestly, we can't tell you. All we can do is offer the information that we've offered you today and share our experiences. And so for me, I have had this experience where I've followed all of the steps. I have followed all of the prescriptions that say you should do X, Y, Z to receive personal revelation. And my answer to personal revelation was to study witchcraft and be friends with witches. And, I can't tell you how much of a struggle it's been to integrate this personal revelation in my own life, but I can also tell you how much joy and peace and connection it has brought to me and how much wholeness it's brought to me. And so I, for me, honestly, I always rely on that scripture, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And the fruits of this particular piece of personal revelation for me, even though it seems totally eclectic, totally offbeat, totally maybe goes against the grain, its fruits have been so, so good and so nourishing that I can't deny that they're from God. 

E: I agree with Channing. We can't tell you what to do, but I can offer you what I've done. And I've tried to learn and listen, and really spend time pondering what my relationship with God looks like. And if it looks different from those around me, that's okay. Because at the end of the day, I don't want to sacrifice my relationship with God just to be in relationship with the structure of the church. 

C: So really, the best advice that we can give you is the hardest advice. And that is to listen to yourself, to listen and trust those stirrings in your soul, to trust the messages that might seem to go against the grain, or might seem new or different or surprising to you, and just have faith and believe in yourself because you have power, and you are entitled to personal revelation, and don't ever, ever let anyone take that away from you. Don't ever let anyone disqualify you from that power, especially not patriarchy or hierarchy, because you have it. It's yours. God-given. So claim it.

E: You might be asking yourself, why are we spending so much time discussing personal revelation? In next this conversation that we have, we want to try and talk about how personal revelation leads us to our life's work. Or as Alma puts it, awakens us to our remembrance of our duty.

C: Alma has such a way with words. I seriously am excited to read more from him. But right now we're moving forward in the text to chapter 7. So at this point, Alma has finished his sermon to the people in Zarahemla and has kind of helped put the church back together there. Once all that's finished, he turns his focus to the people in a city called Gideon. Yep. The same Gideon who helps King Limhi escaped the Lamanites and was eventually killed by Nehor. So Alma arrives to the people of Gideon all revved up and prepped to teach about repentance some more. But when he gets there, he has a moment of personal revelation and realizes that the people of Gideon need a different kind of message. They don't need a call repentance. They're already living righteously. So he decides to teach them something different, and decides to teach them about the coming of Christ.

E: Chapter 7 is full of Alma’s testimony of Jesus Christ, and his beautiful reminders that they should fear not. And that they are in paths of righteousness. But in true missionary style, he can't leave them without issuing a challenge. In Alma chapter 7, verse 22, he says, “And now my beloved, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God.” And this phrase, awaken you to your sense of duty to your God, is not the first time that Alma says this. In fact, it appears repeatedly in Alma’s writings. Enough that we felt strongly that this is an important part and theme of Alma's life's work. And we can see that his life's work is rooted in his experience that he's had in the past, this experience of personal revelation and an angel appearing to him that awakened him to his duty to God. Similar things that appear for him in his testimony and in his missionary work are talking about humility, and of course, the idea of being born again. These are things that Alma has come to know through personal revelation, which helps him understand and feel confident in his life's work. 

C: And we can see from this set of scripture that Alma really does have that confidence. He makes a hard choice by saying, “Actually, I really feel like my place is not in the government structure, and I'm really just called to be a missionary and share what my experience with God has been.” And so literally, missionary work is his life's work. Which I think a lot of members of the church are really excited to celebrate with him, but Alma is not the only example in scripture that we have of someone with a personal theme or life's message. And so I wanted to look for stories of women who've had the same experience. As I was pondering what stories of women I kind of wanted to talk about, whose life message really spoke to me, I thought of Vashti. Queen Vashti from the Old Testament. And I love her story because it really showcases a lot of courage and resilience, and I just appreciate that she's included in the constellation of women who can guide us along our path of what it looks like to find our own personal theme and our own message. 

E: And if you don't remember, this story is about Vashti and King Ahasuerus, who is the King of Persia, but King Ahasuerus decides to divorce his queen Vashti because she refused to show her beauty to the people and the princes.

C: Wow. The Bible dictionary was awfully kind to her story. She did more than refuse to not show her beauty to the princes. Essentially what King Ahasuerus was asking her to do was get naked in front of all of these people. And she just said, “No, I'm not going to do that. I am worth more than that. And I value my virtue more than I value following whatever it is you're trying to tell me to do.”

And so in consequence to this decision of Queen Vashti to disobey her husband, he divorces her, and eventually down the line marries Esther. So just so you can kind of like place where the is happening in the Old Testament. And I think what we learned from Vashti is that her message is strength and knowing, in a system that devalues her, and she stands up anyway, she speaks up anyway, even though she knows that her actions are going to have consequences, Vashti has a lot of wisdom about personal revelation and how it can inform our life's work. I think it's important to discuss women's examples, especially Vashti's, because they teach us that personal revelation is essential to discovering our life's work. If we're constantly at war within ourselves about whether or not we're doing it right according to outside structures, then we waste precious time and energy that could be turned to our higher purpose. It's worth noting that whether or not Vashti was constantly battling the thoughts within herself, if she was always wondering, should I speak up? That the world was moving along around her anyway. The systems and structures were working against her all the same to quote another queen, Audre Lorde, “The machine would grind her into dust anyway.” I came across a quote recently from Dr. Danica Harris, and you can find her on Instagram @theempoweredtherapist. She said something that really spoke to me. She said “You don't have to be loyal to a system that isn't loyal to you.” And I really feel like that’s sound advice for women who are navigating this complex and nuanced space of personal revelation and their life's purpose, because the truth is, women are always in opposition to the patriarchy and hierarchical structures, including the church. Because women in their full power change things, and that's terrifying to the people who don't want change. They don't want women receiving personal revelation, and they don't want women living within their life's purpose, because a whole woman is always a threat to systems that try to divide, silence, and grind them into dust.

E: So with these examples of personal revelation leading to a better understanding of your life's work from Alma and Vashti, we wanted to ask, what do you feel your life's work is, and how has it changed over time? 

C: As Elise and I share our answers to these questions, they're also for you. And we really encourage you to think about what your answers might be to these. And if it's “I don't know,” that's okay, too. And we hope that even just by listening in on the discussion that maybe you can get hints and inklings of your own. So for me, I really feel like my life's work is really summed up well in a bio that I wrote for myself. I call myself an inspirational writer and poetic force for good. And I really feel strongly that by exercising my voice, whether it's here on the podcast or in the written word, that I have the power to share my unique experiences with God, with the world, with nature, and add my voice to the world. And with that, encourage other women to do the same. Because for me, I found that being vocal and being outspoken and giving voice to my experience has really liberated me from the silence that I've always felt so ashamed and uncomfortable with.

E: For me, I think I'm still learning about what my life's work is, but if I had to say something, I think right now my life's work is about learning, and sharing the things that I learned with other people in a way that pushes us towards action. 

C: Elise, I love that answer because it's so honest. And I think that that's a shared experience for a lot of women. And I definitely think that our life's work and our life's purpose, or what we think it is, can definitely change over time, because I know for me, I have felt that way too. When I first had kids, I was like, my life's work is to encourage other moms. And then even younger, when I first started learning to play the cello and middle school, I was like, my life's work is to become the greatest cellist of all time and share my love through music. And then even younger than that, I was like, I'm definitely going to be a veterinarian and show all my love and care to these animals. And so, I mean, I've had a pretty relatively short life so far that I can only offer you three answers to how my life's purpose has changed, but I think it's natural to not know. And it's appropriate for things to change. Sometimes you can know something for sure and then it just changes on you. And so if your road to finding out what your life's work is is long and winding instead of straight and narrow, we're here to tell you that that's okay. And we're cheering you on all the same. And I think along the same vein, something worth talking about is considering maybe what struggles we have in finding out what our life's work is. What have been some of your roadblocks or obstacles to finding out what you're meant to do? 

E: That’s such a good question. I think for me, growing up, I was looking for other people to tell me what I was good at, or what I should do. I was incredibly indecisive, and felt like people should just point me in the way and then I'll just be okay with whatever people think is best for me, as opposed to slowing down and listening to what I wanted and what I thought was best for me. And so I think in that way, one of my biggest strengths is input, which means that I like to hear a lot of people's opinions and what their thoughts are and do a lot of research before I make decisions. But one of my biggest roadblocks in trying to figure out what my life's work is that if I get stuck in that phase for too long, then I don't move anywhere. I don't make decisions. I just keep listening and researching and listening and researching. And I never decide on a clear path. Even if that path is winding. So for me, the roadblocks have been deferring to other people as opposed to trusting and slowing down with my own self to let myself and God guide me. What do you think yours is? 

C: Yeah, I feel like I can really relate to that. And the fact that I'm always looking or, I still do this -- looking for external validation about the choices that I am making. I feel like I'm always checking my decisions or my wants or my needs against what other people tell me is okay. Or even the amount that it's okay for me to want those things. And I really struggle with confidence, is the truth. I just always need people to tell me, “Oh, you're doing a great job,” or, “Oh, you're amazing at this.” Or, Oh, you're so inspiring,” for me to really feel like I am on the right path instead of actually trusting that initial, intuitive revelation that I have received. And, I feel like that's something I'm always brushing up against when I think about what my life's purpose is. It's this constant balance balancing act for me between what I know to be true and right for me, and people pleasing. 

E: I think, I actually think that Alma would have a similar experience. I don't really know. I'm just guessing. But I feel like some of the struggles that he would face are similar to ours, right? He had to turn his life around and leave behind all of these people who thought he was one way. And he had to make a courageous decision, based off of personal revelation, to make this new path for himself. And I'm sure he didn't get that outside validation from the people that he used to run with, even though there was a group that was ready to welcome him. 

C: And I think along with that, he not only has to do at once, in his initial transformation from bad boy to prophet, but he has to do it again when he's much older and he's been established in this particular role in the government. And he just kind of says, “You know what, this isn't what I want, this isn't what I feel like I should be doing.” And I'm sure he received a little bit of pushback, too. I'm sure even Nephi was like, “Are you sure, bro?” And so, yeah, I love that you gave that example because it’s right there, Alma probably can totally relate because he's the expert on personal revelation and life's callings. 

E: But also, what do you think are some things that have helped you realize your life's work? 

C: For me, something really powerful has been listening to other women's experiences without judgment or any kind of personal shame, which now I'm kind of laughing because I literally just did that using Queen Vashti. And so truly, honestly, that's exactly what I do. And for a more modern-day approach, something that's been really helpful for me is actually Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast called Magic Lessons. She interviews amateur artists or people who are hoping to step into the world of photography or artistry or whatever they really feel like their life's calling is, but they're feeling a little bit of these same roadblocks. And so she calls in experts from that same field to answer some of their questions and give them some advice. So that podcast is really a fun listen, and incredibly transformative. But for all the podcasts and books and everything that we can read and listen to, we can look and look and look some more but in my experience, the only tried and true way is doing exactly what we've talked about in this episode. Listening to your intuition, take inventory of your talents, your really, really deep desires, all of your interests and passions and see where they overlap, where they point you to. You have clues and you have guideposts already within yourself. The trick is to just not be afraid of them.

E: Before we conclude our discussion, we wanted to offer you a few more questions to help guide you and deepen your gospel experience as you study this week. Consider the following questions. What revelation have I received that I have resisted or set aside because I'm afraid of it, afraid of what it means for me, my relationships and my worship? 

C: What hints does this revelation offer about my life's work? And, how do I want to honor this revelation? How can I begin, or begin again, to listen to, and honor, my soul voice?

E: Thank you so much for joining us today on the podcast episode as we got to talk about personal revelation and explore what it means to have a life's work. Alma’s really taught us a lot here, and he's provided some great conversation topics that helped us explore patriarchy and hierarchy, and the ways that they both split women from themselves, but also the ways that we can lean into personal revelation as a type of understanding that helps heal women and can challenge patriarchy. 

C: We're honored to have been able to share this space and this conversation with you. And we can't wait to hear your thoughts on this episode and to see what you're going to do with your personal revolution and your life's work. We hope that you'll share that with us. We'll just leave you with that. Don't forget to be awesome. Bye!

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