Sunday, January 4, 2015

Released/Reflections

Today I was released as Relief Society President after serving for two years.  I have known for a month that my release was coming, and it has been hard.  I shed many tears ...it has been challenging but such a blessing to serve as RS President.

I wrote these thoughts a week after finding out about my release:
I feel certain The Lord knows what He is doing. I also feel certain the Bishop is inspired. But I still feel heartbroken about it. It has been such a blessing in my life to serve, to get to know the sisters so well, to be forced to get outside myself and do things that are hard for me. And as a Presidency, we had made some new plans for this upcoming year that I was really excited about. I feel like I didn't do as much as I wanted to. I am certain that Susan will be fabulous and I know I will still have chances to serve...in fact, I have already been given a new calling that I am certain I will love. And yet, I have broken down in tears nearly daily since I learned last Sunday. It doesn't make logical sense...I should be relieved to not have quite so much responsibility...I have so many other responsibilities. But I guess logic doesn't rule emotion, does it?
**
Some other thoughts:
I will be serving in Young Women's as 2nd Counselor with Sara Harding and Julie Carlson and Trisha Wyatt. It will be a wonderful chance to serve. Plus, Michelle (and all her cute friends) will be entering YW in 2015. So I know it will be good. I am feeling guilty that I sometimes complained of being too busy and that sometimes I didn't do as much as I should have/ could have. And feeling a desperate need to feel the spirit's guidance in the upcoming months. I have some big decisions and possible changes ahead, particularly with employment. And I have found it so much easier to be led by the spirit in the past two years. I understand that I can still receive guidance...no matter what my calling is. But I have had a few truly remarkable experiences and have felt so supported and sustained and feel like I have been able to feel a portion of God's love for me and for the women in the ward. I don't want to lose that.

But I also know that while I never would have asked to be called as RS President, it truly has been one of the best, most humbling, most enriching experiences of my life. It has changed me...(and I guess one of my fears is that not all of those changes will be permanent...).

Dec. 19 was our ward Christmas party. I have always had a love/hate relationship with ward parties (or other big gatherings). I do pretty well with people in small groups, but large groups tend to overwhelm me and honestly cause me to not be able to think of anything to say to even people I know. The anxiety just gets so high that it is overwhelming. I remember even two years ago feeling that way.

But this year at the ward party, I had no problem going over to sister after sister and hugging them, talking to them, and expressing love to them. It was a wonderful night. But I am not sure if I truly have changed enough that I will do better in situations like this from now on...or if it is just an example of the enabling power of the Savior that helped me magnify my calling.

But I really do have confidence The Lord knows what he is doing. So as painful as it is, I am sure it is right. In the several months before I was called as RS President I was feeling overwhelmed in life. I just didn't feel like I could handle all of my responsibilities or that I was doing a good job at them. I had started to slip in my scripture study and prayer and felt like I was impatient with my kids more often than I should be. When I was called, it required some real soul searching...and a lot of prayer...but what I quickly found was that as I put the things that mattered most first, The Lord somehow enabled me to still handle my other responsibilities...and even made them seem easier than they had just a month or two before. I think it was what the people of Alma experienced in Mosiah 24:13-15. None of my responsibilities at work or home lessened...in fact, some of my work responsibilites have increased...but my ability to handle things did. I have experienced so many tender mercies. Not having violin lessons scheduled at all on the week of SEP conferences because there was no way I could have done both this time. One morning we were running late to school. There is a left turn on North Temple by my kids' school and you can only turn on the green arrow. As I was approaching, I watched the arrow turn green and then red before I could turn. Then the regular light turned green and I figured my kids would be late as we waited for traffic to flow east west and then north south and then finally get a green arrow again. But miraculously, after traffic flowed east west, the arrow turned green again. I have never seen that happen in the 7 years I have driven my kids to school and tears began streaming down my face that The Lord would turn the light so that I could get my kids to school on time as a blessing for me trying to be obedient. Many others. The fact that I was called when Michelle was old enough to watch her sisters for short periods of time while I went to visit or help people. Alfredo and my entire family have been so supportive. So many blessings.
I have come to love the hymn "The Time is Far Spent", particularly verses 2 and 4.
Verse 2:2. Shrink not from your duty, however unpleasant, But follow the Savior, your pattern and friend. Our little afflictions, tho painful at present, Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end, Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end.
Verse 4: 4. Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you; The weight of your calling he perfectly knows. Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you; His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose. His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.

I think sometimes it is hard for us to see ourselves clearly. We are too aware of our imperfections. Several people have commented on how much I loved the sisters and the compassion I showed. I certainly did and do love the sisters! More than I feel like I could ever adequately express. But I am also aware of the times when I felt like I should go visit someone and didn't because I just felt too tired or the times when I feel like I probably said the wrong thing or wasn't as good at listening as I should have been or didn't remember someone in my prayers. I am very aware of the things I didn't do and the lessons I don't feel I have mastered yet. I am far from perfect. But I guess I need to remember what Elder Holland said in his talk Lord I Believe,

So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.10 Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving.

Some blessings that have come:
*I have made friendships that I treasure.  I love my counselors and secretaries (2 different women served as my secretary).  They are amazing women of great talents and have become dear friends of mine.  I will miss the close association I had with them.  I have developed relationships with other women that I wouldn't have otherwise and I hope that those relationships will continue even though I will not be serving in Relief Society. There have been many Sundays that as I glanced around the chapel, tears sprang into my eyes as love for the dear women of my ward enveloped me.  I have been taught many sermons both by the words spoken by the women (and men and children) of my ward as well as their quiet acts of love, devotion and service.
*I have learned so much about how the Holy Ghost speaks to me.
*I have developed greater love and compassion for others.  I know this is a gift of the spirit, and I sincerely hope it is a gift that doesn't leave after my release.
* I have noticed and experienced so many tender mercies.  A few I mentioned above but there have been many more.  I know the Lord is aware of me and of my family...and that He is aware of the needs of those around me as well.
*I have seen what it means to be truly supported and sustained.  In December, I had a mid year evaluation with my vice principal.  At the end of the meeting, she asked if I felt supported.  I thought about that quite a bit afterward.  I feel somewhat supported by her, but I don't feel at all supported at work like I have felt in the ward.  I know there are others who could probably have served as well or better than me, but I have felt the love, support and sustaining of the members of my ward despite my imperfections.  I have received help, counsel, and encouragement throughout my service.
*I have been privileged to see the goodness of the members of my ward.  I have watched the women rally around those who are struggling, take meals, serve at funeral luncheons, teach, clean the church, serve in their callings, lend a helping hand, hug a returning member, reach out in love to those they visit teach.  In fact, I sometimes feel guilty that I get as much credit as I do...because I may have been the president of the Relief Society for a short time, but I would have accomplished very little without the efforts of many.  My presidency did so much, other sisters willingly served and blessed others' lives.  It is an amazing thing to watch the members of the Relief Society or of the ward pitch in to serve and help.
*I have been able to counsel with and learn from two amazing Bishops.  I was able to participate in ward council and see the genuine love that each council member has for the individuals and families in our ward.
* I have been able to work pretty closely with the missionaries to support those who are returning to activity in the church. The missionaries today are amazing!  Their faith and devotion to the gospel inspires me.
*I have stretched myself and done things that would normally be hard for me to do.  As I have done that, my courage and faith have grown.  I am coming to see that I truly can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
*My study habits have improved.  My prayers have become more fervent and sincere.
*I have learned from my counselors how to be a better counselor in the future.  They were the best!
*I already had a testimony of visiting teaching but my testimony has been strengthened.
*I have come to truly know that I am a daughter of God, that each of us has an important role in building the kingdom, that Heavenly Father knows and loves each of His precious daughters.  The future is bright, the reward for righteous living is worth whatever sacrifices we must make.  And really, our sacrifices (while they feel big to us) bring such blessings that we are forever in our Father's debt.
*The Atonement is real and there truly is power for the Atonement to heal our troubled hearts, cleanse us from sin, enable us to be more than we could be on our own, change us.   I loved Sister Esplin's talk in General Conference about the sacrament. The Sacrament: A Renewal for the Soul
Again, I hope that these blessings will continue in my life.  I hope that I can use what I have learned to strengthen my family and home as well as to bless the lives of the young women I will be serving.