There are a couple of things you need to know before you read this post. First, I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We do not have paid clergy. Through inspiration, members are asked to serve in various callings. They usually serve for a few years and then are released from their calling. And asked to serve in another calling. It is an ongoing process. Each member has the opportunity to develop or strengthen talents and attributes depending on his or her current calling.
That said, let me tell you about the calling that saved me.
In the spring of 2009, I was called into the Bishop’s office. As any member of the church can tell you, the night before the appointment is usually a restless night. For me anyway, my over-reactive imagination tends to get the better of me.
The Bishop welcomed me into his office. I tried to play it cool but I’m sure I wore my typical worried expression on my face. We sat down and got down to business.
I still remember thinking he made a mistake. Young Women PresidenT?! Surely he meant in the presidenCY!
The words of a former missionary companion came to me. Mid-mission she was asked to switch from English speaking to Spanish speaking. Her response, “President, did you pray about this?” This reply, of course, is a joke because the answer is always yes. No calling is given without much prayer and inspiration. This is how I felt at the moment but I’m not bold enough to utter the words. I accepted.
Growing up I had a gregarious, fun leader for a year. Sister Jan was truly awesome. I wanted to be just like her. It took a year into my calling to accept the fact I am nothing like her. One night I showed up at my brother’s house crying, “The girls don’t like me!” He counseled me and gave me a priesthood blessing. I did not throw in the towel but kept plugging along.
One day around Christmas time I was in Wal-mart. “Hello Sister Lee,” I heard. When I looked, there was one of my girls smiling at me and acknowledging me (in public). True, this girl is a sweetheart and genuinely likes people in general but her small act gave me confidence. I continued on.
In the spring of 2011, my family received some bad news. My mom’s leukemia flared up again. This started a long hard summer. Through it all, I continued to serve.
By the fall, mom was getting worse, not better. “Please,” I would pray at night, “don’t release me from my calling.” I felt like I had more to give. Mom’s health, however, kept getting worse.
My calling gave me focus and something to think about other than the inevitable that was coming for my family. It pulled me through a very trying time. Thankfully I had wonderful counselors who shouldered the load. My calling gave me something I needed at the moment. A chance to step out from my surroundings. I continued on.
Mom passed away in early December. Grief filled my heart and for a time I didn’t want to do anything. I told my visiting teaching partner that I didn’t even want to go to church. I just simply wanted to do nothing for awhile and let the grief consume me.
But I couldn’t. I had my calling and I still didn’t want to be released. I kept going and kept busy and did what I had to do. Again, my calling gave me focus and direction. ‘Worry about your girls,’ I would think to myself. ‘Your girls need you.’ And so I continued to serve.
It may seem selfish. I probably was for praying not to be released. As anyone who has served in the church can tell you though, we come in with lofty goals. We want to help others find happiness. We want to do good things. But in the end, it’s ourselves that tend to be the biggest benefactors of our service. At least in my case, the more I give and try to serve, the more I’m blessed. Blessed with knowledge, strength, and the capacity of love.
I really hope I helped somebody else along the way the past 4.5 years. But I can’t deny the fact that this calling saved me and pulled me through the hardest trial I have ever had to go through. During the process I also learned more about myself and found out I’m kinda an okay person.
About 5 months ago, my prayers changed. Instead of pleading to not be released, I finally learned to say, “Whatever is best for the girls.” I have now been given a new calling and another Young Women President will continue the work. As I said, the process is ongoing. But I will be forever thankful for the calling that saved me in more ways than one.