This month I was released from a calling I had in church to work with the young women in the ward (girls 12-18 years old). It happened a couple weeks ago but I have been slow to record my feelings about it since there are so many emotions and it's not easy to sift through them all. I am a list-maker, so I thought I'd just take the practical route and explain to myself what I'm feeling and why.
Initial emotions after being told I was needed elsewhere: frustration and some regret. I was frustrated with God for not feeling the same way I did - that I needed more time, that I wasn't ready to let go, that there were still things I hoped to accomplish with the girls. Nervously I wondered, had I been everything the Lord had needed me to be for the young women?
Second emotion: intense sorrow. You don't work this closely with people (other sisters who served in callings as leaders, the young women themselves) without getting attached. And while I knew I would still see them, I was realistic enough to know it would not be the same. I would not have as many opportunities to visit, to hear of their trials and triumphs, to hug them, to express my love and testimony to them. I shouldn't compare it to this because admittedly it is overdramatic, but for a brief moment it was like a mother being ripped apart from her children. I have loved these girls nearly as dearly as though they were my own. I have poured my heart out in prayer over these girls, sobbed for these girls, pleaded to the Father in their behalf, and strived to know how to best bring them to Christ and help them recognize the Spirit. I have as much desire for their happiness as I do my own children's. The adult women I worked with had taught me humility, compassion, resolve, balance, acceptance, rationality, and love. I was going to miss them dreadfully, too. Without regard to anyone else in the room, I could not control my tears and simply sobbed in the bishop's office.
Next emotion: shock. It was surreal - it felt like I was somewhere else looking down on the situation. The bishop, who is a dear friend, went on to explain the next calling he hoped I would accept but I hardly heard a word of it. My mind was in a fog and I could not believe this day had come and my time with the girls had come to an end. I confess I accepted my new calling as Ward Music Chairperson a bit numbly and a bit robotically.
The next few days I was in a haze and terribly ornery. I felt something I loved doing and being had been taken away. Looking back now I think I also felt unsure about my identity. For so long this had been a huge part of how I spent my time and energy - what now? I took it out on my poor family and it wasn't until nearly a week later that I got on my knees and asked Heavenly Father to help confirm it in my heart that this was indeed the path my life needed to take. It wasn't long before the familiar warmth and comfort of the spirit enveloped me. Peace came to my soul, and although I still felt sad to leave my station, I knew deep within that it was indeed time. It was time for me, for my family, but especially for the girls. Something whispered to my soul, "You've known for a while now that you'd hit a rut. That their progress had plateau'd and you'd been wondering what to do differently to shake things up a bit. You've known and prayed and this is how the Lord is ensuring His daughters have what they need to continue their progression in the gospel."
And then, it was okay.
Relief: I had been told who would be taking my place and I smiled knowing she would take the girls far. She is fun, she is happy, she is faithful, and she has a desire to serve. I know she will put their needs before her own. I know she is what they need. And I'm so very grateful for that.
This was the turning point - this was where any disappointment, regret, insecurity, or even sadness, although not fully removed, now took a back seat and I was able to focus on the positive. I was blessed with the ability to move forward and anticipate the good things that was to come for everyone involved. I actually felt excited! An energy of looking-forward filled me and I just can't wait to see what wonderful blessings are going to come into the lives of these girls that I hold so dear!
Thankfully since then I have embraced my new opportunity and calling. I've felt energized at the prospect of doing something different and contributing to the ward in a new way. I look forward to the blessings that I know will come into my life as I have opportunity to express my testimony of the gospel and my love for the Savior by coordinating music that will invite the Spirit into our meetings and witness of Him.
So now I'm left with one overwhelming emotion and that is GRATITUDE!
It's interesting to look back on times in our lives when we didn't have the full understanding we'd hoped for. Over three years ago, I bitterly and begrudgingly accepted the calling to be the Young Women President. I recall thinking I would have nothing in common with these girls. I recall their resistance to the change as well and what a struggle it was knowing I was not what they wanted. But the Lord knows - he KNOWS - and it was only a few months before I felt more confident in my new position and also had begun developing personal relationships with each young woman. I began to have the desire not just to go through the motions and provide activities for them, but to provide opportunities for growth, for learning, for testimony, for friendship. And in the process, I gained all those blessings as well. It is true that as we bear one another's burdens and serve others with full purpose of heart, we are blessed beyond measure. I will forever be grateful to have had this opportunity. I could have lived my entire life without it and how unchanged I may have been - how far behind in my spiritual progress may I have been! It has taught me to trust in the Lord, because what frequently seems unpleasant or too-challenging or confusing at first always seems to work for our good in the end. This has changed me for the better and Heavenly Father knew from the very beginning that it would.
And oh, how I LOVE Him for that!