When the Bishop Stops by and You Look Like a Deer in the Headlights
It’s been two months now since the Bishop stopped by my house and asked me to serve as Relief Society President. It was completely unexpected. I think I’m still in shock! Well, the shock was followed by fear, and now peace, but you get the idea. I still picture this as something my mother would do. Also, I think I was under the impression that there was some sort of “hierarchy of holiness” in the ward with the most spiritual people being asked to do these sorts of callings. That left me feeling pretty safe. Well, at this point, I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works!
I’ve learned that the Lord doesn’t necessarily wait until we are prepared, feel up for the task, and have our lives all together. He doesn’t always choose the person who is the most experienced, or the most gifted. He pretty much takes us as we are, with all our flaws and inadequacies. I suppose that’s the beauty of grace. We are all inadequate and flawed and he will love us anyway.
He has a use for each of us, even those of us who question and struggle with some of the historical and cultural issues in the church. Maybe it’s that struggling that makes us useful at times, at least that was my Bishop’s response to my misgivings. I will say that struggling can certainly make us more humble, and more compassionate. In the New Testament we read about how Christ associated with ordinary people, and called them his disciples and friends. There is comfort in that.
In the months prior to this calling, I’d been trying to just embrace everything that I can and live with some of the mystery. I’d been praying for ways to serve others in a meaningful way. For anyone who’s been through a bit of a faith crisis, this seems to be one of the best ways to reconnect with your faith. Just forget yourself and serve. This calling isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I’m hoping for another season of growth. I’m making an effort to be open to the journey, and to try to recognize inspiration. I have a hope that I can touch other women who don’t quite fit the Mormon mold.
I remind myself that it’s really about loving people. I can do that. I do really love being with the women in Relief Society. Maybe that stems from being the only girl in a family with two brothers but I love the feeling of sisterhood. I like that there is a mix of ages and experience.
This is an excerpt from the sacrament meeting talk I gave when I was called.
If you haven’t stopped by Relief Society in awhile, I hope you will feel welcome. I will warn you that you won’t find any perfect people in there, just a lot of women like you who are trying to do their best. As members of the church, we know the Lord is accustomed to accomplishing his purposes with the help of uneducated farm boys who pray alone in the woods, and ordinary women who are busy with chores and children. Age doesn’t matter; neither does your marital status, or dress size. If you have felt that you have never quite fit in at church, or don’t quite fit the Mormon mold, there are women just like you in Relief Society. If you’ve been away from church for awhile and are just putting your toes back in the water, there are women like you in Relief Society. If your life hasn’t turned out quite like you planned, and you worry that you don’t measure up somehow, well, there are women just like you in Relief Society. The Lord has need of each of us.
While we share some of the same difficulties and concerns, we are also unique. Each life has the ability to touch the lives of a unique set of family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues. I believe that. There is no such thing as an inconsequential life. Each of us is of tremendous worth to the Lord. We are not clones of one another. We have different opinions and interests and strengths. That’s a good thing. Your life will touch others that no one else can. You will do it in a way that will be different from someone else. The women of the church can be practical visionaries to our families and our associates, as we minister to those around us. This is a living church where miracles happen everyday, usually through the kindness of ordinary people. We need Relief Society, and Relief Society needs us too.
I’m grateful for the grace of the Savior. I believe He works through us. We are held together by a belief in Christ and a desire to feel His grace at work in our lives. Our motto is “Charity Never Faileth”. Charity is the pure love of Christ. I believe He will help us to be about His business. I’m grateful for the restored gospel and I’m excited to serve together with the women of this ward. Among us there are women with soft hearts who listen to the spirit, thinking women with keen minds, and capable women with hands that serve. I pray that we will go forward with the confidence that the Lord will help us as we minister to the needs of our families, and as we minister to the needs of the ward. We are not alone. We don’t need to be perfect, but with the Lord, we are enough.