I thought it was nothing special. I'd heard the story a thousand times before (ok, maybe on 50 times before). Emma Smith, Nauvoo, Red Brick Store... Heard it all before.... I didn't think I was going to get anything new from the discussion.
But then my professor put up a quote on board from Julie B. Beck about why we should study the history of Relief Society, and it was like suddenly a little light bulb clicked on over my head. It was another one of those beautiful moments where I recognized an eternal truth I'd always believed but never realized.
So, in the words of Julie B. Beck, we study our history because:
I was getting so enthusiastic about studying the history of women in the church as individuals that I forgot to remember the power of women in the church as a united group.
Another thing that I like about this class is that we always contextualize the foundation and growth of Mormonism in the bigger picture of the American religious movement. Relief and benevolent women's societies weren't unique during this time period. There were many religious women that set up groups to relieve the suffering of the poor and down trodden. But the Relief Society of Nauvoo was so much more than that. It was a place where women could come and receive religious instruction, where they could become religious scholars. It was where women learned about the temple. Where other women's societies were appendages to their churches, the first Relief Society sisters of Nauvoo were taught that the church wasn't complete until their organization had been formed. These were facts I knew, but I just never realized. It's monumental.
It still surprises me some days how much I'm still learning, and how much I still have to learn. I just never want this life to end.