I got a new set of scriptures for Christmas and, even though it has been hard letting go of my old ones, I am loving the adventure of marking up a new set. It is almost like reading the scriptures for the first time again. I am discovering things that I never saw before, and it is really fun.
I decided when I got this new set that I wanted to mark every story about women and all the references to women in the scriptures. I chose a blue colored pencil and as I've been studying my scriptures I take the time to mark and highlight every time that a woman or women are mentioned. It is a little like re-taking my "Women in the Scriptures Challenge" except that this time I am not keeping a journal of the women listed I am just highlighting them.
I remember when President Hinckley challenged people to read through the Book of Mormon and highlight every place that Christ is mentioned. He said that having that visual representation (the pages literally turn red) is a powerful reminder that the Book of Mormon is indeed another testimony of Jesus Christ. In a similar way it has been a huge testimony builder for me to have a visual representation of how much women are mentioned in the scriptures. I pull out my blue pencil at least, if not several times, every time I study the scriptures. My pages are slowly turning blue, which now that I think about it is kind of funny. Why didn't I choose pink or red to mark their stories? A Freudian slip maybe?
I have been thinking about it and I want to re-frame President Hinckley's challenge and challenge anyone out there who is struggling (or has struggled) with women's roles or place in the gospel (to any degree) to go through their scriptures and mark all the stories of women. Not only will this force you to read your scriptures (which is #1 on the list of "things to do to understand women's place in the gospel") but it will also give you a powerful witness that women are NOT left out the scriptures and that we are not second class citizens in God's kingdom. The more I study the scriptures with my eyes open to the women in them, the more I realize the immensity of God's love for His daughters and important role in His plan.
Even if you don't' struggle with women's issues I encourage you to try this, I promise it will change your perception of yourself in an incredible way. I am also going to make it a formal part of my "Women in the Scriptures Challenge", so that if someone doesn't want to keep a journal of the women they can try highlighting them instead.
I hope you try it!