as we buckled in to our return flight from california a few months ago, i leaned over and smugly told christian we had dodged the bullet.
the reorganization the previous sunday of several of the congregations in our town, left our new congregation among those that were scrambling to fill volunteer positions. everything from leading entire organizations to teaching classes. we knew the bishoprics had been working quickly, hoping to make sunday run as smoothly as possible.
we landed in seattle and joined everyone around us in turning our phones back on. christian listened to his messages and then informed me that we had not dodged the bullet.
the next morning our new bishop was scheduled to meet with me. christian asked me all morning if i was nervous. i was totally the opposite of nervous. i knew i was going to be serving with the young women at church again. end of story. i was pretty confident of this fact. i was the only available leader from our previous congregation that transferred to the new one with our handful of girls. it was a no brainer. still, christian insisted that even though i had never said no to a church responsibility that maybe, if i had doubts, i should say no. i thought he was acting crazy.
when the bishop finally asked if i would serve as the president of our women’s auxiliary (relief society) i thought he had some how said the wrong thing. or maybe he was at the wrong house. i remember asking him repeatedly if he was joking. when i saw the look on christian’s face i realized this was no joke, and christian’s earlier admonitions to be nervous had been justified.
like with all callings that are extended, this bishop that i had just met asked if i would accept the responsibility.
my mind was blank but racing at the same time. there must be someone more qualified, i thought. wasn’t there someone older? or someone who loved relief society at least? if i am being perfectly honest, i can tell you that no one really wants to be the relief society president. i’d much rather teach sunday school or be on the party planning committee. wait, mormons don’t have party planning committees? we totally should.
while i had this internal conversation the bishop waited patiently. and then a voice gently reminded me of the following. you just quit your job. you don’t have kids. you need to stop thinking about yourself.
while the first statements were true, the last one kind of slapped me. i would have gladly volunteered at a school or something. anything, but this? this is clearly not what i had planned. i had quit my job the week before our california trip. and this week i had planned to find a new job, preferably with fertility coverage, find a new doctor, preferably a specialist, set up an intro appointment with lds family services to discuss adoption, and if there was time i felt like i needed to find myself a counselor.
but i didn’t tell the bishop any of this. i simply said yes. yes, i would voluntarily serve as the relief society president. i would minister to the women in my care. i would attend meetings. i would teach. i would plan and organize. i would bear burdens. i would try not to complain. i would learn to love them.
as president i would need to pick two counselors and a secretary. the bishop asked for me to let him know who i picked in the next few days so that the other women could be called and we could all be announced together the following sunday. i told the bishop i only knew half of the congregation since a half of each of ours had been put together. he said he didn’t know my half so we were even.
that was just the first day of one very wild week.