Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Impressions We Leave Behind

This weekend, being the LDS Church's annual General Conference, is one of the busiest for my husband. He helps to cook the food for all the Church leaders who meet to speak and teach, for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who performs, and for the audio/visual and security and all the others who work behind the scenes for two incredibly busy days.

That's a whole lot of people to feed.

Some people volunteer to be on the serving lines and help to clean up. One such woman took a look at my husband as he made the rounds and said, "I just love your wife." He had never met this woman before and couldn't understand how she knew we were married.

Come to find out she was a friend of mine from high school. We latched on to one another early on in our Freshman year. I remember loving her long, blond hair and bubbly laugh. I remember us walking down the hall one day and saying in a seriously cheesy teenage tone, "Hi Jared" to a boy we both thought was cute. I remember laughter and tears, and most of all love.

When my husband asked what I was like in high school, I don't think she could recall much more than I did, only to say, "I just know when she was around everything was happier. She made life fun." My friend also remembered me being there while her parents were going through a divorce.

Those words of hers meant a lot to me, especially as I've been doing some serious soul-searching the last few weeks. Being a Relief Society President in a ward (basically the leader over the women of our local congregation) requires things, and some of those things do not come naturally. For me, it's getting out of my house and going visiting. Some of you may think, "That's not so hard." Others (fellow introverts unite!) may be mentally patting me on the back in understanding.

There is a huge emotional block when it comes to placing myself in the personal space of others. I begin to psych myself out with thoughts of people not wanting me to visit them, to call, to ask about their personal life. Yet common sense tells me that's exactly where I am supposed to go and what I am supposed to do. I watch as my counselors are easily able to accomplish precisely what I am so unwilling to do, and then begin chastising myself for not being like them.

During the different General Conference sessions the last two days, I have been given insight into what I need to do in order to overcome this. The answers came from three different speakers, but the messages all came together for me.

1. Look up. When I am busy hanging my head in fear and disappointment in myself, look up. Therein lies the Light of Christ. Therein sits the goal of who I want to become and what Heavenly Father needs me to be. I must look up in order to get up and move forward.

2. Stretch a little farther. Just as the woman with an issue of blood had to stretch in order to touch the hem of the Savior in full faith that she would be healed, I need to stretch a little farther to fulfill my calling of looking after the sisters of the ward. The Savior will reach out to help me along that path, but I also have to reach out to Him, knowing He will help me push past this block.

3. Fear and faith cannot reside side-by-side. I know this. I really do know this, and I am getting better at putting aside fear and stepping forward in faith. It is simply time for me to put into practice the things I know. Fear is crippling, and for some reason it runs deep through the lines of my father's family. Breaking the chains takes putting faith into action.

4. I am not meant to be the leaders before me. It's one of the hardest things for any leader to shake off - the ghosts of those who came before. Relief Society leaders hold this position for about 3 years, sometimes more or less. When I look into the room on Sunday it is filled with women who have been where I now stand, and I cannot imagine how I am supposed to live up to their legacies. Today I was told I don't have to. I have my own purpose, and it is to love in the best ways I know how.

I thought about the impressions I left with this friend of mine from over 20 years ago, just as she left her impressions with me. I began to think about what sort of impressions I want to leave with the sisters, and I decided that if I can leave them with similar feelings as I did with my friend, then I have done good. This means make them laugh, let them think of love, and be there when they need a shoulder to cry on.