#hearLDSwomen: I Was Released From My Calling Against My Will
A few months ago, my friend asked me to sub her Gospel Doctrine class. I did, and the lesson went really well. After class, the Sunday School president cornered me and said he hadn’t been there, but four people had already told him what a great job I’d done, and would I consider making this a full-time gig? To my surprise, I found I really wanted to teach. I’d been thinking about taking a step back from church, but I thought maybe this was God’s way of telling me I should stick around. I said yes, that teaching once a month would be perfect for me. He said he’d submit my name.
I found out later I was on a list of five names submitted for four open spots. I had a meeting a month or so later with the bishopric first counselor, and I told him I was burned out in my calling. I told him how much I’d enjoyed teaching Gospel Doctrine. “We’re going to keep you where you are for now,” he said.
I sent him an email later telling him I had received a strong impression that God wanted me to teach Sunday School. I reiterated that I was burned out in my calling and would like to be released. He never responded. The four other people were called.
I thought about confronting my bishop to ask if he had reservations about me teaching, but based on previous experiences with him, I felt 90% sure he would gaslight me and say it was God who didn’t want me teaching Sunday School and of course he didn’t have anything against me.
Over the last two years, I’ve been through a crisis of faith. In the end, I’ve freed myself from the oversight of ecclesiastical authority by reclaiming my personal authority to make spiritual decisions for myself and my family. The problem is, the leaders of my ward do not accept or acknowledge my declaration of independence, and instead, still maintain the power to shout down my voice.
I have served as the Primary chorister for three primary programs, and every fall I prayerfully consider if I should resign from my calling after the children perform.
This year was no different, and even though I’ve been feeling a desire for a church sabbatical, I prayed and decided to stay and serve the children of our ward. So I was surprised that a meeting with a counselor in the bishopric for a new calling ended with the offer of release from Primary.
I asked them to reconsider. I conveyed my desire to continue to serve in Primary — they told me they don’t like to let women languish there for years.
I told them I wanted to stay in Primary — they said they knew better than me.
I said I couldn’t fulfill the new calling because of time constraints due to my intense work schedule — they told me they think I’d be perfect for the new assignment and that I’d like it (for the record, I’ve done this one before, and I despise it).
In a moment of desperation to keep my calling, I told them that without my current calling, I’d no longer feel a pull to come to church — and after considering my statement for a week, they released me anyway.
Despite the fact that they had neither heard nor validated my concerns, inspiration or preferences, despite the fact that they released me over my objections, they did offer an olive branch — they could bring in a member of the stake presidency to mediate the situation.
Of course, I refused this offer. I’m not even sure what they were going to “mediate.” Perhaps they thought someone with more power and authority could get me to listen.
But my dear brothers in the gospel, the problem isn’t me listening to you. It’s that YOU are not listening to me. And though you can strip me of my calling at your whim, and though I have no true voice in the matter, no amount of ecclesiastical counseling or authority will convince me to suppress my newly claimed independence.
– Natalie G.
Pro Tip: Listen to women when they tell you the inspiration they’ve received about their callings. Whenever possible, facilitate what they feel God wants them to do.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)