Friday, November 7, 2014

Gratitude, day 1

I have lived, very happily I might add, under the radar of big callings at church for 15 years. Sure, I've been a librarian, spent one year in primary, taught gospel doctrine (probably my favorite calling ever; it is so fun to get into nerdy gospel discussions!), and a few others. But I had never been in anything resembling a presidency. I had friends in high places, it seems.

But all of that came to a halt a few months ago. My ward split, and a complete stranger put my name in as secretary for the Young Women group. Gulp. I panicked hard when I was asked; how would I manage meetings, how would I manage the weekly activities, what would my family do while I was away, how would my husband react? I've lived for so long with a sure-fire, presidency-avoiding reason all my married life: my husband isn't a member, so how could I be expected to do all of that?

I found out how. After a long call with the complete stranger who was the YW president, I decided to give it a try. In the back of my mind, there were so many doubts about my own abilities. What would I know about young girls? How am I supposed to be an example to these girls, when I stopped going to my own young women class at 15, never setting foot in my laurel's class? I went so far off of the path for so many years, would I be a good person to influence the daughters of so many more (righteous, LDS, firm in the gospel, knowledgeable, etc..) people in my ward?

I feel like I am the back-door leader. The one who watches these amazing girls and their fierce personalities, and wonders which of them will stray. I wonder what I can say to them that no leader said to me, back when I still listened. How can I teach them that if or when they stray, they can come back? That they don't have to turn their hearts against God because of the things they have done? That He still loves them and doesn't want them to throw away their relationship with Him because of the paths they took, or the sins they committed, or the alcohol they drank. That they don't have to be angry with him that they don't fit the mold that people want them to fill; that they have a mold that He has given them and they can let Him help them to make it fit.

It sounds like the wrong approach. But it feels right, for me. I can't pretend to be anything other than me. I don't want to. I want them to know that sometimes, people have to step off the path to know what they really believe. I had to live my life for a few years without the Spirit to know that I wanted it. I'm not encouraging them to stray. I just think it's a possibility. I want every one of those girls in my ward to know that I would love them without judgement, no matter what or how or where their lives take them. They would know that if they got into trouble and needed a ride home, I would come and get them. That they could run into me in Target in 10 years and know I would be happy to see them, regardless of what path they were on. (Maybe this is the hope of every leader. What I'm really trying to say that I can imagine if my leaders had seen me at my worst, they would have just felt disappointed in me. I would have avoided them at all costs. I wouldn't want any of these girls to feel or do that.)

A few nights ago, I gave four of them a ride home. It was completely normal, something I do for my sons and his friends all the time. But it felt so...special. I could give these amazing, giggly, girls a ride. I enjoyed it so much. It's funny to see how different teenage girls are from teenage boys.

The funny thing is that I knew this calling was coming for a while. I expected to get something in Young Women when I got my gospel doctrine calling. It's working out (I really hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying that!) It's true I am the old lady of the group (everyone else is in their late twenties, except for the president who is 30. Gah.) But I can be the old lady, I guess. 
The amazing part in all of this, one of the parts that I'm most grateful for, has been the feeling of...insulation I've had. I can't describe it better than that. I'm able to go to the meetings and activities and feel just fine with what I'm able to do, on all fronts. If I go, I can go and not feel guilty. If I can't go, I can not go and not feel guilty. It's such a great feeling, and I'm scared to even admit I have it in case it goes away. But it lets me do what I need to do and not feel conflicted. I didn't know that feeling could exist; I never would have known to ask for it, nor would I have expected to feel it. It's a much-needed reminder that I'm getting help to be able to do what I need to do.


Lucy said...

They are lucky to have you. And, yes, I think it is so important that the youth know exactly what you want them to know. I’m so glad that you’re glad!

Britt said...

This is so wonderful! I think YW is a great place for you! Young Women leaders are so special. I have so many great memories of my YW leaders. I