Since I was a young woman I knew I would do great things. My parents brought be up to think anything was possible, so that’s what I thought for myself. I was always determined I would do something spectacular.

I am still convinced that I will do something and AM doing something spectacular! It may have not always been so, but the biggest reason I feel so empowered is because of the gift of womanhood. I feel that being a woman is what defines me not only physically, but spiritually as well. Men and women alike are all born with immense and unlimited potential to achieve. Perhaps the things we achieve won’t always be the same, but they will always be equal in the sight of God and should be to us as well.

Before I got married–in college mostly–I felt that I had divine attributes to develop in order to achieve my full potential as a daughter of God. I felt instinctively that my womanhood would be the very thing to help me soar in my career, or whatever I chose to do. I felt keenly the love God had for me as a woman. I knew I had a mission on earth–things I was sent here to do. I feel strongly that everyone has things to accomplish in this life and all of those things help us find joy in our eternal gender and become the people God wants us to be.

I am twenty-two years old, married for two years with a daughter of one year. Some would say I have and will accomplish little in my life, since I’ve given it so early to motherhood. Even I couldn’t help but feel that way some times during my engagement and even during pregnancy. What happened to feeling like I was going to do something spectacular with my life?

Something studying the gospel has helped me to learn is that motherhood IS something spectacular. It is the most spectacular thing I could ever do and I love it! I love the feeling that all the characteristics I am working on to be a better mom also help me to be a better woman and daughter of God. I love feeling that by trying to be the best mom I can, I also can accomplish some of what I was sent here to achieve.

But, something else I love about what this gospel has taught me is that I can do incredible things IN and OUT of the home. Too many people think that women belonging to the LDS church were meant to spend all day inside of their homes with no reason to live but keeping a clean home and raising well-behaved children. Now, that wouldn’t be necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t believe that is ALL. Or why would Relief Society have ever come into place?

My favorite thing to tell people struggling with this sort of topic is: Motherhood falls UNDER the role of womanhood, NOT the other way around. This is not to say motherhood isn’t important and special and incredible–because it is all of those things and more! But women were not created for the sole purpose of being moms. That is one of the great privileges and responsibilities assigned to women in general, but it is not their only responsibility.

I am no stranger to the incredible emotions and love and even power that comes with motherhood, but I also am no stranger to the incredible things women can do outside of the home too.

We find a lot of this when we see the incredible things women do in their callings in church auxiliaries.

I also find more meaning in the RS Declaration which says:

“We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who: …dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes. Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood. Delight in service and good works. Love life and learning…”

Notice it doesn’t say “dedicate ourselves to strengthening OUR marriages, families, and homes” but instead keeps it broad. Notice that it says we are not only to find nobility in motherhood, but JOY in womanhood. Notice it talks about loving life AND learning. These are things any and all women can take part in because they extend beyond the home and reach to blessing the whole world.

My personal opinion is that while men are ordained to exercise the priesthood all within the church, women are called to exercise the priesthood outside of it–in their homes and to all their friends and communities. Women were meant to be on the forefront of service and missionary work and, of course, strengthening families. This is a woman’s role in God’s kingdom–to use the priesthood in a completely different, but just as important and necessary way, than the men.

Women all over the world should feel they have a purpose–a mission–on this earth that revolves around their divinely gifted gender. I LOVE being a woman!! I love calling myself a daughter of God. I love that my husband and I can compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses and progress together by realizing our equally amazing potential to be what God wants us to be together and separately.

Being a child of God means I can do spectacular things. Being a daughter of God means I have direction and can find fulfillment in doing those things.

Dana Ackerman, 22, La Habra, CA