I've been the second counselor in our ward's Relief Society (our church congregation's women's organization) for 2 1/2 years. This seemed like a pretty heavy calling (job) and there have been times, with my personal training clients again, and Jeff's new job taking up lots of extra hours that I've been tempted to ask for a release. Sometimes it's felt like I was being stretched longer and longer -as though there were screws attached to my skull and soles and every day they were twisting tighter and tighter in opposite directions. I was expecting to snap like an old rubber band any day. However I liked serving the ladies in my ward, I enjoyed my work, I loved my clients, and loved being with my kids. I'm not saying it was bad stuff in my life, just that I wondered how I could do it most days (and most days there were a lot of mistakes).
In my church you are always doing something. Everyone usually has a job. It's part of our belief system that we follow the example of Jesus Christ in serving each other, so we all take turns doing something. In the last year or so I cast about looking for a job that I could be given next that was sufficiently easy for me. That would give me the "break" I felt I so richly deserved. I decided ward librarian would be perfect. That would mean showing up Sunday and helping people make copies, sign out pencils and scriptures etc. and then going home until the next Sunday. Perfect. I could be extra nice and smiley to people. I would be perfect.
A month ago I got released. I got NO new calling. People commented on the smile on my face. I couldn't stop grinning. I was having my thyroid biopsied for cancer that next Friday so I thought Heavenly Father (since we believe all callings are divinely inspired) knew how much I needed a break and was giving me one. Even better than librarian! Well, later that night I noticed I had a voicemail I'd missed from the day before. From the STAKE PRESIDENCY. For those of you not familiar with the vocabulary, the Stake is our group of 10 congregations in our area. I was called as the Stake Primary Secretary. Arguably this may be the most time consuming calling I could possibly get. I won't go into details, but in the interview, I was told over and over how much of a time commitment this would be, how much my family would have to sacrifice, etc.
I looked President Parry in the eye and asked -a little desperately- "the Lord helps you, right?" and he assured me that the Lord does. I said OK then, as long as I didn't have cancer.
I didn't have cancer.
That was huge miracle in itself. My Dr. was sure tests would be inconclusive, that surgery was a surety, gave me surgeons' names to check out; then the results came and were unequivocally benign. This was where I started to believe everything would be OK, that somehow I could do this.
I sat in church the next Sunday, and heard someone quote the familiar scripture from Matthew 11:30 that we always hear around Christmas: "his yoke is easy and his burden is light". I always wanted to say nuh-uh! when I heard this before. It often -very often -didn't feel light at all! It felt heavy! But this time, I heard it in a different way. His burden is "light". Light and not darkness. I heard how he helps us see more clearly, to get the answers we need. If we serve, and keep the promises and covenants we made, he would give us revelation in return --or a help in carrying our burdens.
Today our Sunday school teacher mentioned a story I'd heard before about a bike lamp. There was a boy who had a lamp on his bike to light the way in the dark. The faster he pedaled, the brighter the lamp would shine. The problem (in his mind at least) was that having the light on the bike meant extra resistance. It was a little harder to pedal against that resistance, so he decided to take the lamp off. A crash during the next night time ride was inevitable. It was harder to pedal with the light, but clearer. The lamp was necessary to light his way.
I guess I am willing to work as hard as I need to in order to keep that light. Along with keeping promises I've already made to serve, I'm noticing answers coming to questions I've had for months and years. The whole politicized conversation regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage has been confusing and disturbing for me. It's really bothered me. I don't like the idea of a group of people feeling we as a church hate them or don't care for them. I've been getting some real helps with this question lately (see this interview for example). I also have worried about the restriction of the priesthood (in the past) for people of African descent (see this page on LDS.org for a quick overview), and I've been recently been put in touch with full personal histories on this question that helped me get some peace about this subject (i.e. --people in the church aren't perfect!).
I'm looking forward to someday being the ward librarian. I'm -of course- already making big mistakes in my new calling, but so far the stretching doesn't feel like I will twoiiiing! any second, but that I am increasing little by little in my capacity. God bless us all in all that we undertake. We'll need it.