Why do I do this to myself?
Why am I writing another controversial book?
You may know by now that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons for short, however much of a misnomer that is since we worship Jesus Christ not the prophet Mormon). So why am I writing a book with a main character who is a Mennonite?
Because of my friend Troy (last name withheld for confidentiality). He was at my office one day a few years ago and I made a flippant comment about a man in my office who wasn't treating me very well and looked down upon me for being a headstrong woman.
I am a headstrong woman. Probably to a fault.
I'm a headstrong business woman who's taking on the world and standing up for the causes I believe in. I'm fighting for justice on behalf of the people and natural resources of our community. I'm a scientist. I'm a lobbyist. I'm a fighter.
But I also honor my husband as the head of my household just like Troy's wife presumably honors him as the head of her household.
The man I don't honor is the jerk who was treating me poorly at my office. He's gone now. He left years ago. I'm pretty sure he doesn't even live in the State of Michigan anymore. Good riddance. No man should ever treat a woman (or anyone) with disrespect. No one, male or female, should treat anyone else, male or female, with disrespect. I tend to believe that my friend Troy would agree with me on that.
But when I admitted that I'm a headstrong woman, Troy asked me, (I'll never forget his words so I'm putting them in quotation marks!) he asked me, "How does that work out at home?"
That stopped me in my tracks and I was speechless.
Did I not just state a moment ago that I honor my husband as the head of my household? Do most women honor their husbands as the head of their household? If you're ready to say something snippy to me about how men and women are created equal, let me ask the question of you, Is that really true?
Men and women are extremely different. I don't need to launch into an anatomy and physiology lesson here for you to visualize what I'm talking about. Is one better or worse? No, we're different.
Women are God's chosen vessels on this earth. We are the only gender able to have children. We are the only gender able to willingly agree to have a spirit body enter a tiny little physical body and carry that little physical body inside our larger physical body, endure an incredible amount of pain in order to push that little body into the big, scary world and then we hold that little body in our arms, crying with happiness that he or she was entrusted to us to nurse and love and teach and help become a larger physical body who will someday create more little physical bodies and bring them into the world to house God's spirit children.
And who is going to protect us (as mothers) as we protect these little physical bodies? It's not a trick question. You can say it out loud. Who has God asked to stand as protectors of the mothers chosen to create these little physical bodies? Our husbands.
If not our husbands, then who? Should we hire a bodyguard? I love my husband. He's way more than a bodyguard. He treasures me, not just as the woman who willingly accepted the little physical bodies who house the spirits we call our children. He LOVES me. I would not want any other person on this planet to stand as my protector. He provides for me. He goes to his job every day and brings home money that can be used to support me and our children. He would rather work two jobs than to ask me to hire someone else to nurse our children so that I can help bring in money to support our household.
So when Troy asked me, "How does that work out at home?" I realized, I'm not like this at home. I'm not a headstrong business woman who's taking on the world and standing up for the causes I believe in. I'm not fighting for justice on behalf of the people and natural resources of our community. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a lobbyist. I'm not a fighter.
Because I don't have to be.
I can come home and take off the business suit, and let someone else protect me for a change. I can snuggle into my husband's arms and let him protect me. He can make the decisions for just a little while. He can lead me and help me and care for me. And he's good at that. Because that's the way God made him.
Troy didn't tell me that's how it should be. He merely reminded me that my husband is there for me.
So, thank you, Troy for asking that poignant question that I haven't forgotten to this day. Is it any wonder that I had to name my character after you? You're old like me. I don't know what you were like as a young man. My character may not be anything like you. My character is not a real person. But he was inspired by you.
I hope that my story, called The Refusal, does justice to the teachings of both our religions and the gospel principles we hold to be true. You may not agree with how I chose to end the book, but that's okay. The book is fiction. The characters are not real. But maybe something in this story will touch your heart in the same way that your poignant question touched mine.
Sincerely, Julie L. Spencer