Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Inspirations February 1, 2009

It was not difficult to decide on what to post on today. After all it was precisely one year ago, as we celebrated my hubby’s birthday, that he was officially sustained and set apart as a bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s been a learning year for us both, though the brunt of the lessons were certainly given to him. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, his two callings of the previous eight years or so went a long way in preparing us for this one. As an executive secretary to two bishops for seven (almost eight?) years he gained so much insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a bishop. Yet even that couldn’t prepare him for the emotional, spiritual, and physical load that would be placed on his shoulders.

Even back then he was gone many evenings. The phone would ring relentlessly with people asking to see the bishop. Whenever the bishop needed to be over at the ward building to meet with someone, my husband’s presence would be required as well. Neither of us realized there were countless hours spent over there just to get paperwork done, or talk with his counselors, or anything that did not require my husband’s presence.

When he was then called to be a high councilman the hours didn’t really change much, just his location. For my family the biggest change there was not having daddy around on Sundays, as his calling required his skills in helping guide another ward (local congregation). It was really good training for our family on how to survive a three-hour meeting slot without disrupting any of them! It also prepared us to see daddy in our main meeting, where he presides, without thinking he absolutely needed to be sitting with us.

I distinctly recall the day we walked through the door of the stake president’s office. Actually my husband was asked to go in first so the two men could converse. I was very pregnant at the time and couldn’t imagine they’d actually call him to be a bishop when we were so close to having a newborn in the house. Fortunately the Lord knows my strengths better than I do myself, and He knew we’d make it.

At least for the first year.

Neither of us could imagine saying no to the calling, and we were asked not to say anything for three weeks. THREE WEEKS! This is rather unheard of, as they prefer to make changes as quickly as possible. The only thing to mar all of this was the news somehow getting out. It was not by our doing, but the stake president seemed to think so anyway. It’s not an easy thing to be accused of doing something you know you didn’t do. And in a way I believe it was a little test, or a hint, being given so we’d begin to understand the need to allow things to roll off our backs.

In any case no harm done, and on my hubby’s birthday we watched as the (then) current bishop was released and then as my husband’s name was called, as the members of the congregation raised their arms to sustain the calling, and as he then left us sitting on the bench so he could take his place at the front of the chapel.

To be honest this first year has both dragged and flown by! He’s gone a lot, but he was gone a lot before. His Sunday meetings start far earlier and end much later. I suppose for us at home things haven’t changed too much. Fortunately the kids are young enough not to be influenced by being “the bishop’s kids.” (In another church this would be akin to being something like the preacher’s kid, or minister’s kid.)

Though I do get to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, it’s nothing compared to my husband. Like many spiritual leaders of a congregation, members will come to him to confess, or counsel with, or for guidance, and it is all done knowing he will keep things private between the two of them when possible. If there is sin confessed or a situation uncovered, and it is serious enough, he is required to go to his own leaders for counsel (the stake presidency). But for the most part what goes on behind his closed door stays there.

And that is the hardest for us both to bear. I watch as he comes home from church with his shoulders bowed, a deeply engrained crease between his brows, and usually with a headache. I have no doubt he’d love to unburden the giant load on his shoulders, but he doesn’t. It is a load for him to carry. The biggest thing I can do is make coming home a good experience for him. And usually, after an hour or two (and a few Peanut M&M's), he doesn’t look so tense anymore.

Fortunately the Lord knows we need the good to help us endure the harsh. The love poured out upon our family by members of this ward has been beyond uplifting, and I know we’re all grateful for it. We’ve watched them fulfill their own callings to the best of their abilities. During this Christmas season we witnessed a phenomenal outpouring of selflessness as families who couldn’t provide for themselves were well taken care of. I have heard marvelous words spoken in behalf of my husband, and know the time and energy he puts into helping out the members of this ward are so very appreciated.

This past year has truly been a teaching experience for us. I have seen my husband grow in confidence, in love, and in the ability to make some hard decisions. His connection with the Holy Spirit is strong, and our home is blessed for it.

To any of you who have offered prayers on our behalf, we thank you, wholeheartedly. They have been felt. And now we say goodbye to year one. Only four (???) years to go!

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