Opening Services

Today’s guest post is from Karin Brown. Karin received her Bachelor degree from Brigham Young University in English. After pursuing 2 years of international travel, including Russia, China and Taiwan to teach to English, she met her husband who inspired her to plant her roots in Utah and start a family. She is now the busy mother of 5 energetic children. She is an active volunteer at her children’s elementary school and enjoys reading, hiking, international travel, music and dancing in her kitchen when no one is looking.

I walked into the chapel with a frown on my face. I’m not sure I’m up for this, I thought. Sitting through an hour of Sacrament Meeting with 5 young children by myself and then wrangling other people’s kids in nursery for 2 more hours seemed like more than I could handle. Especially after the morning I’d had. Yet, here I was, walking into the chapel, practically asking for it.

I unloaded my bag and children onto the pew and listened to the prelude music. Now that’s a cushy calling, I thought, watching the organist. I wouldn’t mind that calling. I noticed a friend walk in with her four very young children. She serves in the sunbeams.That’s worse than nursery. No toys. I wouldn’t want that calling. And that sister over there,I tell myself , is going through some pretty intense trials right now. I wouldn’t trade my calling for what she’s going through. Just then a good friend who is Young Women’s President walked down the aisle. There’s no way I would trade for her calling, I thought. Come to think of it, I continued my private dialog in my head, I’m not sure there is a calling I would trade for. If all the callings were laid out in front of me today, I’m not sure I would pick any of them. I’m pretty much just tired of serving. How about no callings? I cheered to myself. How about that?I shook my head, feeling mildly sacrilegious and guilty for my train of thought as the prelude music came to a close.

The 1st counselor in the bishopric stood to begin the meeting. “I’m Brother Finken. Bishop Brown is presiding at this meeting.” My eyes filled with tears. This is just too much. This burden is just too heavy. My husband presides over this meeting. He presides over this ward. And it’s been a long time and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of it all. Can’t we just take a break? Why are we doing this? Why do we stretch ourselves so thin sometimes in church callings? What’s the purpose of all these callings? Why not come for the sacrament and leave? Isn’t that the main point? Why all the extra work?

Lost in my doubtful thoughts, I was startled when the organist began playing the introduction to the opening hymn.  I mechanically pulled the hymnbook from the back of the pew in front of me, although I didn’t feel like singing.  “Oh how lovely was the morning. Radiant beamed the sun above.” But I knew these words. I didn’t need to open the book. “Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing-  T’was the boy’s first uttered prayer-” Had I uttered a prayer this morning? I wondered. Could my doubts and discouragement be considered a prayer? Did Heavenly Father hear me, today, in this chapel?  “Suddenly a light descended, brighter far than noon day sun.”  I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. Though offered with intention or not, God had heard me and responded in full Spirit to my faltering faith. He did hear me in the middle of this chapel, lost in the middle of my doubt.

“Joseph, this is my Beloved. Hear Him!” Oh, how sweet the word.” My doubt dissipated like ash into a night sky, leaving only the burning embers of faith. This is why I serve. Because God hears and answers prayers. He answered Joseph’s prayer, the first prophet of this dispensation. Through Joseph, He restored the true and full gospel to the earth. I serve because He asks me to, because I love Him. Because it’s true. From the Bible and the Book of Mormon to the First Vision and the Priesthood to the organization of my individual ward. It’s all true and it all matters. It matters so much that it moves me to action and service in the church, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.

11 thoughts on “Opening Services

  1. I think we’ve all felt those doubts. But you’re right: we serve because we are asked, because we love Him, because it’s true, and because it matters. A perfect summation. Thank you for sharing!

  2. That was beautifully written…thank you. As a mom who now has five older children (13-22), I remember those feelings all too well. I used to dread Sundays. But in hindsight,as I see how well my kids are doing and watching the good decisions they are making, I’ll be forever grateful that I didn’t give in to those frustrations. Hang in there…things do change and they DEFINITELY get better. I’m amazed that I can say that Sunday is my very favorite day of the week now!

  3. Thank you. Too many Sundays don’t feel like a day of rest…or even a spiritual one. But then there are the moments when I remember why I am trying to do it. Because it is right. Because I said I would. Because there are touches and glimpses of truth and hope and goodness.

  4. You perfectly described the foundation of my testimony. I believe because the Lord sends me those “fill my heart with light” moments so often that I can’t deny them. I serve because it’s the only way I can think of to say Thank You, and to hopefully remain worthy to have those moments continue.

  5. and this is why nursery leaders should only serve to a limited number of months and why bishop’s wives should have help during sacrament meeting, supportive visiting teachers, and less demanding callings.

  6. I served in the Nursery for two years…and I loved it. Then after that I became compassionate service leader…loved that one too…..but I think I did it too good because now I’m the RS Pres. for the past year and a half. I have had your same dialog in my head quite often these last few weeks. What I’m doing now is looking around to see if anyone strikes me as potentially the next RS Pres.

  7. my husband was called to be the bishop of our ward last year, and sometimes the thought of doing this for another four-ish years makes me want to cry. don’t get me wrong, there are some aspects of the calling that are lovely. but there are a lot that are tiring. having to pull all of the load with the kids, on Sunday, does get old. knowing there are other sisters who understand my situation, and especially the Savior, give me hope that we will make it.

  8. All your comments are so heartening. I just returned from church and made it through with a smile on my face, in part because of your uplifting comments. Thank you. I wish we could all sit down to lunch and laugh and cry about how challenging and rewarding it is to serve in the ward family. Thank you for your kind comments.

  9. Karin, I think you also serve because then others can learn from you and from your experiences and will gain or strengthen their own testimonies — even the children in the nursery.

  10. I teach CTR 4 and just love it, actually the time I have in class with them is probably some of my happiest and easiet time all week. The hard bit is being the Bishop’s wife, believe me I would give that up in an instant. We have done 3 years and they have been hard for many reasons including 2 miscarriages, unemployment, a less a active daughter who became the talk of the ward, and a very sick son with an undiagnosed illness. Seriously, the church should run a Bishop’s wife support group!! Thinking of you.

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