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Oct. 16th, 2010 at 6:27 am
Dread: that is the best word I know to describe my feeling about my appointment to meet with President W., the member of the stake presidency over the youth. He had called me the Sunday morning of General Conference to ask if we could meet that week. I really didn’t want to. I knew a new stake Young Women’s Presidency was getting organized and that the one I had been a part of for the past 3 years was being released, and I was ready for that. Really ready. More trunky for a release than I had been from my mission, even. President W. had been a dream to work with, and the last time we had had such a 1-on-1 meeting was when he had extended the calling to me; I really didn’t want him to extend another calling to me.
Serving in our Young Women’s presidency had been a good experience, and I felt that I could and did contribute quite a bit in that calling. When we started, all four of us were young(ish) (at least young at heart), returned missionaries, full-time employees, and committed to the youth program. Among us, only I had children–everyone else had immense flexibility to travel to units around the stake and attend countless (SO many) youth activities and almost as many planning meetings. We were experienced in the Church, in the youth program, and in leadership and teaching. We were generally enthusiastic and available to assist the unit Young Women leadership wherever they needed support, from substituting in a Sunday lesson to attending weekly ward activities to special firesides to attending ward council with a nervous new YW President. That was in addition to organizing stake and regional youth activities, Young Women’s Camp, high adventures, the mammoth Brand New Year activities, stake auxiliary training meetings, unrolling a new personal progress program, and oh yes: attending both New Beginnings and the YW Sacrament Meeting in every single unit. I was amazed at the tireless and upbeat leadership of the stake YW president who wasn’t even annoying about being so positive. She was able to serve and love and know all the girls, even the ones who had psychotic meltdowns at stake dances that necessitated us calling the police on her and the girls who alienated their unit leaders by getting into a screaming, cursing, hair-pulling, punching, kicking fight at New Beginnings–she might have even loved those girls the most.
By the end of our tenure, however, things had changed for us. Each of us had added a baby to our families, making attendance at stake dances much less convenient. Graduate school and new jobs claimed our attention from time to time. We presided through the death of parents and divorces. Half of us had bought our first houses and most of us had moved at least once during our service. We had all taken our turns battling the stake Young Mens president who really had the best of intentions, I would guess, but just failed at collaboration and at treating women like adults. We had given our best, and as soon as we knew a new presidency was being organized, we were done. Done. Done.
So the idea that I might be called into a new presidency scared me. I just didn’t think I could give more in this arena. I was ready to finally settle into my ward, a ward that didn’t even really know me, except as someone who was “off-limits” to ward callings. Although it had been fun to feel in-the-know about stake happenings, I was eager to forget about Super Saturdays and the logistics of youth temple trips, at least for a while. My dread was ever-present during that two-day interim and I was very anxious to meet with President W., although I had not yet decided if I could accept a calling into another stake presidency; getting a babysitter for every stinking meeting was a REAL drag. I have never turned down a calling, but I was more ready than ever to turn one down, if need be.
My babysitter arrived, I rehearsed a little “I’ll have to think about it” speech in my head on the drive over to the Church. I found President W. in the high council room, and sank, but did not relax, into that comfy chair, tense. We exchanged pleasantries and then he got right to it:
I guess you’ve heard that we are organizing a new Young Womens Presidency.
I called you in today to thank you for all the work you have done these past few years.
To thank me?
Yes. I know it’s been hard. I have really enjoyed your exchanges with Brother M. [the stake Young Mens President]
Yes–President J. [stake president] always loved to hear about our discussions.
Oh…you told him, huh?
He always wanted to know–these are by far the most exciting meetings in our stake.
I didn’t even know about your divorce.
You just worked right through it. I’m sorry about that–I had no idea. But I just really wanted to thank you for your good work.
Besides my mission, I am pretty sure that every other time I have been released from a calling, it has been in Sacrament Meeting with a “vote of thanks” which, frankly, is so pro forma it is meaningless. That President W. was thoughtful enough to take the time to meet with each of us individually to thank us was really touching. I think we in the Church don’t thank each other enough, since we all just expect certain services from each other, based on it being your job or my job. But to have President W., who probably has more meetings in a week than I have in a month, make an extra meeting just to thank me, well…it made me want to say “yes” to that calling he didn’t extend to me.