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Well, it finally happened. After six and a half years, I have been released as my ward’s Relief Society President. When I called our kids to let them know, one son said, “Wow. They’ll probably institute term limits now, because of you. Like with FDR.” Yes, each of our kids is a comedian.
For some time, people have been asking, “Are you still in that calling?” and I’ve been assuring them I’m in no hurry to move on. I’ve loved this job, and can think of several other callings that would be much more difficult for me. I’ll admit it: I kind of hoped I could have this calling for Time and All Eternity, and it was starting to look almost possible.
Part of it is the women. I’ve come to know some true saints and heroes, some Saviors on Mount Zion who stand up to Satan and fight, who deal graciously and faithfully with phenomenal setbacks, who strive to be valiant missionaries, who exemplify all that women could aspire to be. And, after having several variations in my presidency, I almost feel as if I’ve worked with half the women in my ward. You can’t help but develop a familial love for these sisters.
I also loved the Bishops and other Priesthood leaders I worked with. I loved early Ward Council meetings with their stunning spiritual insights and wonderful humor, and the stake leaders who lifted us all to higher ground.
And I didn’t want to let go. I felt as if I were in charge of a fabulous garden, such as the famous Butchart Gardens in British Columbia. I knew every flower, every bush. And I want to say to the next gardener, “Now keep an eye on this one. It’s a tender shoot and needs extra care,” or “Make sure you give this one plenty of water, and not too much sun.”
Perhaps this is the problem with staying in any calling too long. Just as missionaries suffer more when they’ve stayed an extra long time in one area and grow attached, worrying whether their contacts will be nurtured properly when they leave, we feel a magnetic pull to keep us in place. I told my husband, “I feel like a fish hook. I don’t want to budge.”
But how incredible the church organization is, that it deliberately keeps running things with newbies. It keeps people from becoming entrenched and continually offers opportunities for others to grow in that same position. It’s healthy both ways, for the “retiring” one and the new one.
And I have to say, my heart soared when I learned the next President would be a woman I’ve admired for years. She will be more than awesome, truly an inspired choice. I’m honestly excited to see the innovative ideas she’ll bring to the ward.
You may have felt a twinge of regret—or profound sadness– at leaving a cherished calling, too. But I think the key is to listen to what Heavenly Father has to say about it. It’s His church and He’s in charge. He knows when the timing is right, and He knows whom to put where. When we pray for understanding and receive that confirmation, peace floods our soul. We aren’t here to micro-manage an organization that He’s already operating.
It takes faith to accept and tackle any new calling—they’re all hard if you do them right, right? But it also takes faith to get released, to accept that moment when it’s time to step aside and allow others to carry the torch now. And while my torch may be running low on fuel, I know our new Relief Society President’s is burning brightly. Meanwhile, I already have a new calling. And I know exactly where to find the fuel for my new torch.