NOTE: I wrote this for Segullah last month and liked it enough to copy here.
I live in one of those rare wards where we have far too much talent, more willing members than callings; where sign-up sheets are filled before they reach the back rows. I realize this isn’t true for 99% of the church, but I promise what I have to say here will also apply to you.
For the past several years I’ve held mostly made-up or temporary callings– assistant Relief Society newsletter contributor, Fall Festival food committee, camp photographer, etc.
I’m not complaining. I’ve enjoyed them all, studied the conference talks on “every member matters” and for years I’ve felt like my real calling is chatting with people in the halls, complimenting their shoes, asking about their week. Trust me, I know I’m lucky in a thousand ways. For many of you who go from one demanding calling to another (like my sister in San Diego), my situation seems like a dream. My children benefit from dedicated leaders, insightful teachers and brilliantly run programs. I’ve had the freedom to serve in my community, in the temple, writing here and elsewhere.
But every few years (usually when they reorganize the Young Women’s), I start to wonder what’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t God want me in His church? Is there a black X next to my name in the bishop’s office? And then I’m over it and go back to serving in my funny callings, ministering and taking really good care of my family.
While I just made myself sound so chill, I’ll admit those times have been really hard on my family. I don’t doubt the gospel, just my place in the kingdom. My children reassure me over and over– you matter to us. A bit ago, my son who is serving in the Canada Montreal Mission (Mandarin speaking!) sent me this pep talk:
Something I was thinking about this week. I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting this Sunday and this guy was bearing his testimony and he just got here from China but he’s from Taiwan and has been a member for a long time. And he shared an experience about how he felt right before he moved to China. He knew he would be in China for a long time and he felt that God had a reason for him having this opportunity. And he was talking to his bishop and his bishop told him. “This calling that you have is very important.”
And he thought it was weird because he didn’t have a calling and he was about to move to China. And then the bishop said, “Your calling is to be an example.”
He realized that he would have to be an example to all the people he met so they could see that he was a Christian, and a Mormon.
It was a cool testimony; we’re super excited to have him in the branch. And he has a wife and two boys!
So you can be an example.
Keep doing great. You’re awesome. You’re shining brighter than you think even if you can’t always see it.
Yeah, he’s a pretty adorable son. And his four brothers and little sister are just as lovely.
I’ve thought a lot over the years about the example I’m setting for the world. I’m a low-profile girl. But for every person I chat with at the doctor’s office, every person I sit next to in a class or on an airplane, everyone who follows me on Instagram, I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I am a representative of Mormonism. And I hope, I am an example of living the gospel joyfully.
The word JOY hangs above my fireplace, scriptures about joy are taped on my cabinets and mirrors and refrigerator. I have an incredibly happy family life– and I give 100% credit to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I come from a heritage of substance abuse, slammed doors, broken marriages and estranged relationships. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ, without the structure and beauty of the gospel, I would be lost.
Have you ever stepped back to think about the gospel foundations that lend so much happiness to our lives? Scripture study, family prayer, temples, Family Home Evening, General Conference, church attendance, Personal Progress (oh how I love Personal Progress!), For the Strength of Youth, taking the sacrament, serving our neighbors, paying tithes and offerings…the list goes on. How could I possibly raise my children without the counsel of prophets and leaders?
At our house, we take the advice of church leaders seriously– but we NEVER take ourselves seriously.
My circle of influence may be small, but I hope I show genuine interest in everyone I meet. When I’m living the gospel joyfully, I find my membership in the church comes up in conversation pretty naturally. And I try to make sure they know I’m a Mormon who doesn’t judge anyone but who has found a lot of happiness in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And I guess that’s my calling. To be an example.
You are definitely a good example to us. Me and all my friends. I always enjoy watching your videos and reading your blog. You’ve shared so many precious experience and thoughts with us. Your sharings not only boost my faith to our church and our lord, but also soften the hearts of whom don’t believe in the church and Jesus Christ.
I have been following you for quite some time. During my time as a single mom, I often found strength and encouragement from your posts. I have now been remarried for about a year. I continue to find strength and joy every time I read something you write. Where I live, we go from big calling to big calling. It is how I know how to serve regardless of my life’s circumstances. I have often thought that those who are active and joyful without the demands of a “full-time” calling are often much stronger than I am. I am inspired by those who serve without compulsion from a calling in the spotlight. I am constantly inspired by you and grateful for your example!!
Dear Michelle, you are wonderful and precious. And a role model to me.
“To the world you are a mother , but to your family you are the world.”
Kisses from over the ocean!