I have a confession to make --- to all the world --- I AM OVERWHELMED!!!
"Why? What is going on? Is this why you haven't blogged all week, Jami?!"
Yes. Thank you for your concern. (I love having imaginary conversations with you with myself like this, just in case you were wondering. The narcissism! The awkwardness! It makes me giggle every time.)
Because I haven't blogged about this until now, most of you don't know that:
#1 - I got a new calling back at the end of October. (But I didn't start until today because we had already made plans to travel out of town for the holidays.) My new calling? Choir pianist.
#2 - I accepted a second new calling just this last week: Young Women Secretary.
(Don't know what a calling is? Here's a quick summary. In my church, no one is paid to lead, play, teach, or organize. The leaders of our congregations pray about who should perform which jobs. You are then asked to serve in the position they prayed about for you and hopefully you accept! It is one of the ways we live what Paul taught here. When we talk about callings, we usually joke that either someone was called to a position to grace others with their innate abilities and gifts, or they were called to a position for their own growth and development in some area.)
I don't know if you knew this about me either, but:
#1 - I can sorta play piano, though not very well.
#2 - I am not very organized.
These, my friends, are both callings for my own growth and development. The handful of stalwart choir members who came to choir this morning at 8:15am to practice, could testify to this. My playing was rough to say the least despite my practice leading up to today. I was down all day worried about it. My poor playing. Wondering, where I could get more time to practice? Wondering, how I could accomplish this overwhelming feat?
After church, I had a feeling that I should make a point to drop some cookies off to a lady in my ward today. So I did. We got to talking. It turns out that she teaches piano lessons. She offered to give me a free lesson in some practicing techniques that she said will turn my 30 minutes of practice into an hour of practice. This woman and her gifts were a tender mercy from God just for me today. I have had a calm in my heart ever since.
I had a similar experience with my secretary calling. I met with the Young Women President (The Young Women organization is over the girls who are 12-18 years old in our church) last week. She filled me in on my duties, on the girls, on everything she could think to share with me. I feigned an air of confidence, but inside I felt frenzied. My mind was racing, what to do?! What to do?! I'm going to forget everything. I will not have the time or ability to accomplish all I have to do for this position! There's not enough time! I don't know what the heck I am doing! Where is Heidi?!?! (Heidi was my secretary when I served as Relief Society President a couple years ago. She was pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me.)
But then, I attended Mutual on Tuesday night. (Once a week, the youth of our church get together for an activity - it is called "Mutual".) I showed up and mostly just observed quietly from the back. I asked the girls their names. They hardly looked at me as they each responded quietly and then skipped off together to the stage to practice for the upcoming roadshow. And I didn't mind. I was just enjoying the watching. And in getting the glimpse of each one of them that night, I saw their goodness. I saw some of their quirky personality traits. Their self-consciousness and sensitivity. Their strength. The beginnings of self-definition forming in their attitudes and body language. And they were beautiful! Every one of them. My heart just warmed with love for these girls. I had hardly had more than a passing glance at the odd church meeting with any of these girls. But on Tuesday, and again at church today, I felt it. God loves these girls. So much. And He loves me enough to have blessed me with a glimpse of His love for them. And that was all I needed. "Remember that feeling. That is job #1," He told me. "The rest will follow."
There is this story in the Book of Mormon about this awesome guy named Nephi. God asked him to build a ship in the wilderness. An astonishing request. But Nephi boldly accepted the challenge! He accepted many bold and sometimes seemingly impossible requests of the Lord. Not only that, but he did it with inspiring faith:
". . . I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)
At the time God asked Nephi to construct a ship for himself and for his entire family. I'm sure Nephi had some experience with building and such. But he had never before built a ship. Nor did he have the tools to build one. What do you think Nephi asked God for first?
"And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?" (1 Nephi 17:9)
He didn't ask for the ship to magically appear without his working to build it. He didn't even ask for the tools. He asked where he could go to find the ore to make the tools himself. And God told Nephi where to go. Nephi went. He made the tools. And eventually he built that ship too.
I accepted these new callings because I want to do whatever God asks me to do. But I don't have to get overwhelmed with the enormity of the tasks at hand. Hearing this story of Nephi today at church helped me to realize something I missed with my frazzled thinking before. And that is this: the skills that I must develop to successfully accomplish these callings are great. Greater than my current abilities. But, God is right here with me. He has asked me to do these things and He has promised that He will help me accomplish what He has asked me to do. No, He isn't going to plop a finished "ship" in my driveway or give me the power tools to build it either. But on Tuesday night, and today, He pointed me in the direction of the ore I'll be needing to use to make my tools to accomplish my tasks. And for that I am completely overwhelmed - with God's love for me and with my gratitude and love for Him - for what He is helping me to become. Better than I am.