Discover more from Wayfare
Yearning for Our Mother
Embracing Our "Extraordinary Tradition"
My family and I were desperate to get back home to Richmond, Virginia after our holiday travels, but more than 24 hours after our first canceled flight, we were still stuck in the Salt Lake City airport. An airline employee finally offered to fly us to Washington, D.C. and pay for an Uber to take us the rest of the way home. Finding an Uber driver willing to make a hundred-mile drive on a dark wintery night was a challenge, but we finally found one up to the task: Emmanuel, a Nigerian professor of calculus at a community college who drove for Uber on the weekends to help get his own children through college.
As our family settled in for the long drive, we started chatting with Emmanuel about the joys and challenges of raising teenagers. Suddenly, he confided: "The strangest thing happened last week. My daughter came to me and said that she would no longer join us in family prayer anymore if we only refer to God as a He; she insists that we also call God a She, and I have no idea what to do."
Having done years of writing and research on Heavenly Mother, I was elated by his comment and we dove right into a deep discussion about this thrilling LDS theology—a theology that Harvard scholar Noah Feldman has recently described as an “extraordinary tradition” that offers a rich antidote to what many—like Emmanuel’s daughter—perceive to be overly-masculinized faith traditions.
As I shared with Emmanuel how the restored knowledge of Heavenly Mother enables girls to see themselves in the divine, he wept. When we arrived home, I dashed inside to get him a copy of the Girl's Guide to Heavenly Mother. The image that greeted his eyes as he opened the book was a beautiful Nigerian beaded rendering of our Heavenly Parents; it felt like the heavens had parted. Emmanuel told me that he left his church a while ago because he was searching for a fuller understanding of and connection to God; in that moment, he found what he had been searching for.