Today’s post comes from Eliana Osborne, who lives in the desert with her husband and two young sons. She’s a freelance writer specializing in health and adjunct English faculty at Arizona Western College. She loves to travel instead of doing needed home repairs, and thinks a brownie is the perfect breakfast.
Last October marked ten years we’ve been together. How long ago it seems as we moved our few belongings into our first home on a dark Halloween night. That first Sunday I bravely told a member of the bishopric that we need callings. Because after a year of renting, our first year of marriage, when we mostly did a lot of sacrament meeting attendance, I know this about us. We need some motivation.
You aren’t the best looking ward. The original one in our town, your boundaries shift from time to time as people die off. New neighborhoods are built, suburbs expand, but your core remains true. The few families remaining who remember fifty years ago, building the chapel. You don’t have much money or missionaries. But you have heart.
You encircled us in our oddities and embraced my pretentious maiden name keeping self. You thought I was a bit crazy but loved me nonetheless. You rarely asked when the children would be coming and hugged me when I told you they wouldn’t be. When I finally did get pregnant, you rejoiced as much as any blood relation. You made me furniture, threw a party, even brought second gifts after the baby wasn’t the girl we had been told to expect.
You gave me someone to sit with, told me not to worry about the baby sounds in sacrament meeting. You told me not to worry about the baby weight, that it took nine months to put on. Told me I was doing a good job. You gave me people to ask about rashes and sudden fevers. You noticed when I looked tired, invited me into the playgroups I had disdained. You gave me adult contact after I quit my job and thought I might go insane.
I’ve been responsible to teach so many of you dear ward: teenage Sunday school, those endless four years of gospel doctrine, teacher preparation class, Beehives, Relief Society. You helped me learn the scriptures. You gave me a chance to reflect on what I believe. My testimony grew and grows as I share it with you. Thank you so much for that.
Dear ward, the potlucks are interminable. It isn’t wrong to cook good food. It is unfortunate you have so little musical talent. If only the air conditioning had a setting other than frozen. Some of you wear my patience to no end with your self-righteous knowledge of ancient Hebrew customs that just happens to come up in casual conversation. But you are part of me, the part I try to hide.
Ward, you’ve changed as I have changed. There are young families now and I am one of the old timers. I’ve grown up with you. I’ve learned how to be a Saint with your help.
Thank you for the opportunities to serve. The chances to forgive. The chances to look for the best. Thank you for the leaders who have loved me, welcomed me. Thank you for never making me think I had to choose between believing and being myself.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a break up. I’m not planning on going anywhere. I’ve just been thinking about how much you mean to me and thought I ought to let you know.