This post is for my mom. She asked me to write this down for her, so here it is.
Our 4th Sunday lesson today was on President Uchtdorf's talk entitled "Lift Where you Stand." The talk is from last October's Priesthood session of General Conference, and is a fantastic talk, so I won't try to duplicate what he said. At the end of our fantastic lesson taught by Rachelle D., she asked for comments if any of us had an example of those who sought service opportunities, without seeking for "a crown or a cave." I shared with the sisters a story about my mother. I didn't do it as eloquently or as lengthy as I will here, but since this is for posterity...
Shortly before my twelfth birthday, my family moved from Moscow Idaho, to Minot, North Dakota. We hadn't even unpacked the truck when both my parents were called into Stake service positions. Throughout the twelve years we lived in Minot, my mom never had fewer than oh, about three callings at a time, and not just visiting teacher either! She served as the Stake Relief Society President, in the LDS family services, as a temple worker, in the nursery, as well as being the Bishop's wife and making more than her share of long-distance, less-active (and even hostile), visiting AND HOME teaching assignments. I remember as we drove to Minot that first time, mom was so excited that she could pleasantly ignore the fact that she knew everything about the scouting program and could play the piano--and thus avoid music and scouting callings for the first time in her life. I laughed aloud when we had barely walked in the door of the church when mom was volunteering to help with scouts and music. Needless to say, she became a powerful example to me of service, and not just a little bit: service wherever, however, and as often as the Lord can possibly cram into one day for one person. (Dad, you did too, but since this was a Relief Society Lesson, I wanted it to be about a woman. But know that I really looked up to your influence as well!)
This June, Mom and Dad tearfully and respectfully packed up and moved back to Utah, after thirty years of living away from Utah. Mom was released from her current five callings, having to do several trainings to ensure that her vacancies would be filled appropriately.
Mom then found herself living in a well established, well staffed ward, with more than enough help around. She confided in me that she felt alone, depressed, and un-needed. How could you not, when you don't receive a calling in over three months? Especially after you feel like you are really the Lord's tool, and you feel like you're really irreplaceable? But mom didn't hide away, or let the depression overwhelm her.
She rose to the challenge. She volunteered for things, began attending the temple weekly (never an option before), and spread her talents out as best as she could. I'm sure she wondered why these months with barely a visiting teaching route for service happened. Was the Lord displeased with her service? No. I venture to guess on this--I think the Lord was giving her the opportunity to find her own burden to bear up. After years of being given service opportunities, this was her time to find service opportunities, and a trial period to see if she could govern her own talents, and still magnify them without being imposed upon.
To correlate with President Uchtdorf's analogy of lifting a grand piano: Mom had always been right at the head, with a big open space to lift. This was the first time that she walked up to the piano and had to look around for a space. Some people might look at that piano surrounded by people, and say "Oh, they're fine, they don't need me." But not mom! She strode right up, snuck in her one finger, and lifted where she stood.
I really respect that, mom, and I'm impressed with your talent to share your talents, and find the work that needs to be done, with or without the calling. I'm putting this on my blog with the hope that we can all learn from it, and remember that with a "piano" this big, there's always room for someone who is willing to lift.
The end of the story? Mom just got called as Relief Society President.