I student taught in a first grade classroom in Provo, Utah. (It was awesome.) One day something normal happened, but which the Lord recently brought to my remembrance to teach me something.
We were doing a measurement lesson. Everyone got rulers. These rulers came in lots of different colors, and I was handing them out. Everyone got their own! Don’t I rock as a teacher?
Nope. They all wanted a yellow one. I think one of the cool kids got a yellow one and made a big deal about it, and then it became a Thing. The Yellow One.
You know what happens with children and scarce resources. Okay, you know what happens with humans and scarce resources. Some kids were seriously upset that they got a blue one or a red one.
Kids and colors. I don’t know why kids fixate on that one characteristic of objects in their world. They should have been way more concerned about whether that first tick mark was at the end of the ruler, and whether they had to remember to line the object up with the tick mark and not the end of the ruler. Or they should have been worrying about whether their ruler had the metal edge that makes line-drawing awesome. Or whether they had both metric and English marks. Or whether their ruler was accurate. Or whether they had unit conversions printed on one side. Or whether it was bendy or folding.
I, as the teacher, knew what these objects are for. They are for teaching young minds how to quantify a particular observation of an object in the physical world; this knowledge is foundational to science. The kids were right; some characteristics of rulers are important. But they just picked the wrong one.
Put yourself in their shoes (which you may or may not know how to tie yet). The teacher begins distributing resources. A peer is given one (a ruler). You don’t know what it’s for. They express joy in their possession (which happens to be a yellow ruler). You get a resource that is different than your peer’s (a red one). Since it is not what they expressed joy at, you ask why, and if you can have one of those too. The teacher communicates that you have everything you need to learn the lesson (how to measure things). But you disagree, and you refuse to participate in the learning activity where you think you will look inferior.
I’ve been studying gender roles in the gospel again, and it’s driving me crazy because it is hard to understand. As I prayed for direction, I remembered this experience in my first grade classroom. The Lord built upon it for me, as follows.
The Teacher begins distributing resources (gender roles). A peer is given one (The Priesthood). You don’t know what it’s for. They express joy in their possession (which happens to serve greater numbers of people). You get an object that is different than your peer’s (motherhood and sisterhood). Since it is not what your peer expressed joy at, do you ask why? Do you ask if you can have one too? When you do, the teacher communicates that you have everything you need to learn the lesson (Christlike service). Do you refuse to participate in the learning activity (the Church) where you think you will look inferior?
Numbers of People Served is a characteristic of gender roles that we could measure, if we wished. Is this characteristic important to Jesus?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Whether we serve the least number of people or the people with the least social status (women and children), we are still serving Christ. Does that parenthetical element offend you? It should. Who said that women and children have low status? Who said that serving “just them” is a step down? Is that how Christ felt? No, the children were the ones that he called to come closer. Jesus revealed himself as a resurrected being to a woman first.
He also revealed himself as a mortal being to a woman first, too.