In the book Sister Pearce says "The priesthood" isn't the congregation of men who meet together each Sunday, although we sometimes refer to them that way. The priesthood is, in essence, God's power. It is the power by which the worlds were created. It is the power by which our bodies were created and which allows those bodies to create offspring. It is the power by which we are washed clean of our sins and are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is the power by which we experience forgiveness from God and partake of Christ's atoning sacrifice. It is the power with which we are actually endowed in sacred temples. It is the power by which we are sealed as eternal companions with the possibility of eternal increase, the power to eventually inherit all that the Father hath."
So am I accessing the blessing available to me through the priesthood? For my entire life I have relied on my father or husband to access this power. If my children needed a blessing then it was up to him. I would think, that's a big responsibility to always be ready to give a blessing and be in tune to understand our Father in Heaven's will. Then I would sometimes think, I'm glad it's not up to me. I understood that the blessing was limited in power to my faith and I would add my faith to the blessing, but I am coming to understand that I have much more access to this power than I previously understood. I am a partner with my husband and if my children need to be healed by the power of the priesthood, then my faith is also required. I love what Sister Pearce said about women accessing God's power. "[Women can access] God's power through faith, virtue, and worthiness. I am a witness that the prayer of faith coupled with worthiness in covenant-keeping women produces miracles..." I believe I did this to a degree, I would also pray and ask to add my faith to that of the blessing, but I am excited by this new understanding that I am not the bystander I once thought I was.
Another area in which I believe I am not accessing God's Power like I could is in my worship and understanding of the temple. I am excited to go to the temple with my new perspective. Sister Pearce said "...I believe that only as we come to understand the temple and its ordinances are we able to shed light on our divine identity and purpose." And the temple is how we get back to this question I have always had about women giving blessings. Sister Pearce states in the book, "On my first reading of the Minutes, one of the paragraphs I marked was in the April 28 meeting. It concerned an issue raised by members of the Relief Society in those early meetings: the question of whether it was proper for women to anoint and bless others." At this point my heart started to race. Was someone going to tackle this question? Was I finally going to find my answer? Sister Pearce continued "This clearly seems like a question about the priesthood. That is obviously the way Joseph saw it too. His journal of April 28, 1842 states: "at Two o'clock after-noon met the members of the 'Female relief Society' and...Gave a lecture on the pries[t]hood shewing how the Sisters would come in possession of the priviliges and blesings and gifts of the priesthood-and that the signs should follow them. such as healing the sick casting out devils &c. & that they might attain unto. these blessings. by virtuous life & conversation & diligence in keeping all the commandments." Sister Pearce continues "So what did I do with this question? I read and reread the entire April 28 lecture-prayerfully." (This lecture can be found here.) She says that she has an absolute conviction that we are led by prophets today and we do not hear them talk about women anointing and blessing the sick today, so it must no longer be sanctioned. She then did more research. She finally came to the conclusion that "...the practice of women giving healing blessings gradually gave way to the modern era of codification, when many practices were made uniform and authorized to be performed only within dedicated temples." Although I do not fully understand this early practice, I believe that these women were being prepared for the temple. I love what Sister Pearce says, "No matter the differences in application, however, I believe that the doctrine and principles behind the practice in 1842 operate just as forcefully today. They include accessing God's power through faith, virtue, and worthiness. I am a witness that the prayer of faith coupled with worthiness in covenant-keeping women produces miracles as surely today as it did in 1842." Does this mean that we don't need men? Absolutely not. Is my access to God's power limited because I am a woman? No! Is my worth less because I don't hold the priesthood? No! How exciting! I realized it's not a matter of who is more important. My Heavenly Father loves me equally. He does not value men more than women. Heavenly Father created men and women to be partners. We each have different roles. What makes it difficult sometimes is that the men's role is more visible and therefore sometimes more recognized. But my work as a mother is just as important as the work my husband did as a bishop. We are each working towards the same goal. We can not make it to the Celestial Kingdom without each other. I also have a better understanding that my role is much more significant in accessing God's power than I had previously thought. There is so much more I want to learn on this subject. I am excited to read the Minutes and to study them prayerfully. I am excited to read the rest of this book The Beginning of better days.