We had some great changes last week at church. I should preface by saying that in our church we don't have paid clergy or anything of that nature, all callings are issued by inspiration and accepted on a volunteer basis, and some take up a lot of time and others not so much, but all are important. We also don't believe in having aspirations to be in a certain position, we believe that our Bishop receives inspiration and revelation from Heavenly Father in regards to who should fill these positions in our particular congregation, that holds true for our church on local, national and international levels. It's kind of an organizational miracle, and it's part of what makes us unique.
Anyways, when Steve and I were first married I was put to work in the Young Women's program for girls 12-18, specifically I taught the 12-13yr old girls each Sunday or every other Sunday. I was also involved in helping coordinate their goals for completing "Personal Progress"- a program designed to help them gain practical skills and develop their talents, it was a blessing to be involved with these girls, now most of those 12yr old girls are DRIVING their parents' mini-vans, scary...That lasted for 2ish years and then I was asked to be in the presidency of our ward(congregation) Relief Society, for women 18yrs+. We don't aspire to callings, but it was pretty overwhelming to be asked to serve in this capacity as a fairly young person. I mean, I was 25 with 2 very small girls, feeling like I had very little to offer, being asked to help minister to 130+ women, most of whom were more seasoned and experienced than I. What I quickly came to realize was that this calling was more for me than for them. I have learned so much from the strength of these women, from serving alongside them these past few years. I feel like everyone has added so much to my life experience that words can't really do them justice. This has been such a huge blessing in my life and my family's life and I feel so grateful to have a Heavenly Father who would give me such a great opportunity to learn and grow, and feel more a part of our church community. It's true, those first few years with the Young Women's were great, but I felt like everyone knew Steve because he grew up here and I was just "Steve's wife" which is totally fine with me now, but back then it felt like there was no way for me to break out of that label, so I felt a bit like an outsider.
The responsibilities I've had in Relief Society have really helped shove me into the circle a bit, and that's good because sometimes I don't put myself out there enough. I had the great opportunity of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ on a very regular basis, and increasing my love for Him through serving the sisters in our ward. I've learned so much, not just on a spiritual level, but practical things too. I've had the opportunity to visit with sisters I might not have had the chance to, I learned to crochet, and strangely enough which batting is best for which kind of quilt... I learned to "be prepared" to teach, when teachers don't show up or call the night before to say they're sick or out of town. I've learned that people don't generally put their hurts on display and to be much more careful about passing certain judgements on anyone, or speaking my opinions too pointedly. I've learned that the best way to feel apart of something is to jump in and get your feet wet, the best way to get to know and love people is to serve them, and the best way to grow closer to the Savior is not just to feel good about what He's done for me, but to go out and do something for someone else that He would want me to- even when I feel inadequate or just don't feel like it. Nothing changes a bad day or crappy attitude faster than service to others- and it doesn't even have to be big thing. I've also learned that we are more than equipped with the tools that we need to do things that seem really hard. We weren't sent here to fail and we have a Heavenly Father who really knows and loves us collectively and individually, and when we need to learn something, He provides a way for us to learn it, whether we want to or not.
I feel like my family has benefited in the biggest way, because this calling has really helped me through all this learning to be a Mom stuff. It is not super easy, but I found women who I can relate to and look up to- besides the awesome Mothers in my own family- and I was able to learn how to relax into my role. That's been huge because I was trying to do it all at one point and failing miserably, and as much as Steve was a huge help during that time, I really needed some "motherly advice" from someone who knew what it was like, and I got it. Huge blessing. It also gave me something to focus on, outside of my own family and I think everyone needs that, whether it be a job, volunteering in the community, or what have you, it's great to have somewhere else to focus some attention and feel like you're contributing. And now somebody else gets the opportunity to grow and learn in that and a host of other things, and I'm super excited for them. As for me, I'm feeling like I can be happy with the contributions I've made, and grateful for the contributions others have made to me, and excited to see what's next.
In completely unrelated news, have you all been captivated by the Canadians who were rescued by a container ship off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii? Haha, yeah, um we definitely have, Steve was invited to go on that trip! Obviously, for the purpose of work and making a living, it wasn't really something that was feasible for us, so he stayed home and we've been watching the facebook updates all month. It's a huge blessing that our friends are all safe and sound, and were able to make contact with the right people to get themselves rescued. Another evidence that Heavenly Father watches over His children and that all the little things can indeed add up to make a really HUGE difference in whether or not a story ends up happy or devastating.