Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where I share a little more than I intended with some complete strangers

Have I mentioned that I now teach relief society (the women’s organization within the LDS church)?

(chorus of “No, please Becky, tell us about it!” rings around the world. Thanks for your encouragement.)

So, since it seems that in my religion, they believe anyone can be a teacher, they picked me to teach on the 2nd Sunday of each month. I accepted this new assignment because 1-I promised God I would at least try to do the things he asked of me, and 2- it didn’t require any extra time away from home. Easy, right?

But then the actual TEACHING has to occur. Hmph.

This past Sunday was my second attempt at teaching. I felt hugely inadequate to teach on the subject (baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost) so I had a hard time getting my head around the lesson. I finally came up with a lesson on Saturday night. I was nervous on Sunday morning, but I managed to get up in front of everyone and teach the lesson.

All was going well until the end. I felt the need to explain myself & where I came from and how I’ve grown a little in the gospel. After sharing my experience of coming back to church, suddenly I found the following words coming out of my mouth:

“I know I’m not perfect. I’m just this Jack-mormon standing up here, with no real clue of what she is saying.” The room rang out with laughter, but I found that I couldn’t look any of those nice ladies in the face anymore. Did I really just say that? I tried to recover, read a really nice message about listening to the Holy Ghost, said amen, and sat down as soon as I could.

I’m kind of laughing about it now, but I assure you, I spent most of Sunday going over and over those words in my head and wondering what possessed me to announce this to the entire relief society. I hope that I didn’t offend anyone with my slang, but I have a hard time pretending that I know everything (or even anything, for that matter). I can carry the title of teacher, but it doesn’t fit snugly on my shoulders; I have to wiggle and adjust under its yoke, because I don’t feel adequate to the task. There are so many people who know this stuff far better than me, and have lived it more thoroughly (if that is the right word.)

But teacher I am, however loosely it fits. I guess the women in my congregation will just have to get used to me bumbling my way through the concepts.
If nothing else, I guess my lessons will be worth a laugh. You just never know what is going to come out of my mouth, but you can probably guess it will be inappropriate. I’m glad I’m good for something.


Jeff & Kayci Bitton said...

Just remember: the Lord will always qualify whom He calls, no matter the position, no matter the person. I think everyone feels the way you do about being called as a teacher within the church. It is difficult to teach something like the gospel, which is perfect, when we are not. I have heard from many teachers within the wards I have been in and they all say the same thing and they do a wonderful job teaching! I am sure you do a fantastic job. I hope it gets easier for you! :) Way to go accepting the calling and working hard to fulfill it! You are an awesome example.

Amy Sorensen said...

Here is something I learned when I was talking my "learn to be a high school teacher" classes that helped me, too, when I was teaching Relief Society. We watched a snippet of Dead Poet's Society, the spot where the professor jumps up on the desk and starts spouting Whitman (barbaric yawp etc). And then we discussed that only HE could do that. Everyone wants to energize and excite their students, but we can't all be the DPS professor. We can only be ourselves. That was a huge insight for me---to reach my students, I didn't need to wear a mask. I just need to be my teacherly self.

I applied this very heavily to my time as a R.S. teacher. I refused to pretend to be anything I am not: one of those super-wise women who know all aspects of the gospel, or someone who is gentle and constantly oozing with the spirit. Or anyone else I am not. Instead, I taught like ME. I used poems and quotes from non-religious places. I talked feminism in Relief Society. I taught as ME. And I honestly, 100% without a doubt believe that THAT is what makes you a good teacher---being yourself and teaching with fervency what YOU know, using YOUR personality. THAT is why YOU were called to this calling and no one else: because YOU are needed.

I know you can do this and that you will do a TREMENDOUS job at it. It really doesn't matter if everyone else in the room knows more gospel doctrine than you do. All that matters is that you share yourself and your spirit, and everyone will come out a better person!!!


Britt said...

I teach R.S. in my ward, too, and no matter how prepared I am I always feel inadequate. I always tell people that I'd rather speak in Conference than in R.S. because at least in Conference your talks have to be approved beforehand. That means that if people get offended, it's ok because the Lord approved the talk, right?

I always say dumb things when I teach, and I look back and think, "Oh my gosh! Why did I say that??"

But really, I think most women connect best with someone realistic, so calling yourself a Jack Mormon is ok in my book just as long as you're not preaching Jack Mormonhoodness. And really, the older ladies (the ones that are most likely to get offended by something like that) probably have no idea what that means. Hee hee!

Best of luck with your calling! I teach on the 2nd Sunday, too! (but we're one lesson behind you because I just taught The Mission of JTB).

Stephanie said...

I wish I had insights to share like the rest of your friends... but I just want to add my encouragement! Not only will you be a tremendous teacher, I'm sure, but don't we always get more personal growth from a calling than what we think we give? (Although we hope others gain from our efforts, as well.) Good luck! And I think it's hilarious what you said. I hate it when my mouth doesn't ask me first before it spouts off something that's bound to embarass me later. Not that it should have embarassed you... shutting up now. :-)0

Lucy said...

I bet your ward loves you. I admit to unfairly judging some RS teachers, and after this post, I know that for the most part, we are all doing our best. Be who you are. You are a good thing.

The Ekberg Family said...

Hi Becky, it's Ginger. Yes, I know I complained about blogs but now I got one and I looked at yours from Melanie's and lauged when I read your story. That is so funny. That is totally something I would be thinking in my head but I would never be brave enough to even teach. You go.