Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oh No! Not a Family Ward!

Only three weeks left until our big move to Texas! Am I excited, yes! Am I scared, yes! I mean, Texas, for goodness sake, I’m a California girl, what do I know about roping steers, high school football or the Alamo? However, this reminds me of the last time I was scared by a big change.

It was less than a year ago when Spencer and I were married. Wait- now you probably think I’m going to write about the fears I had going into marriage, but no, I’m talking about something even scarier. The family ward. This may not sound scary to you, but I had been in a singles ward for fifteen years, and since I had started when I was seventeen that was almost as long as I had been in a family ward.

I know that there are many who have problems with singles wards. They call them meat markets, marriage mills, complain about the high turnover or the difficulty in standing out. I never had these problems. From day one, I felt like I belonged. Well, that’s not exactly true. It did take about six weeks for anyone to remember my name, but I’m a pretty persistent individual and eventually they caught on. From that point, I did belong. I loved having the opportunity to hold positions of responsibility, making new friends almost weekly, and truth be told being able to party, party, party.

So, when I moved into a family ward, I was nervous to say the least. For the first time in many years, church felt new to me again. Here are the things that unnerved me:

1. There were old people there. I don’t mean people my parent’s age; I mean old people, the kind whose wrinkles look like a topographical map for death. Since I had been single for so long, I had become used to being one of the oldest people in the ward. I was the wise old sage that the young innocents turned to for advice. Now, in one Sunday, I had become a child again. That first Sunday, as I realized that the collective age of the women sitting next to me in Relief Society was greater than that of my entire Relief Society in the YSA ward, I felt very intimidated.

2. There were children there. Tons of children, jumping off their parents’ shoulders, taking nosedives into the pews, body surfing through the crowd, children of all sizes, shapes and degrees of stickiness. I was sure that I would never be able to focus on a sacrament meeeting talk again.

I had other, unnamed fears as well. It just felt so different.

Over time, my nervousness faded. I learned to treasure the valuable knowledge of the older women in the ward. Their stories of raising families, surviving trials, losing husbands and remaining faithful through it all, touched my heart. I learned to smile at the energy of the young ones, and that the extra effort required to focus on the talks, brings extra insight as well. Plus, with some talks, the distraction is a welcome one!

The transition wasn't always easy. Tasks and callings that should be simple and uncomplicated, are made difficult, tedious and time consuming. I think that some people treat their callings as jobs, and not as opportunities to bless others. I think that the spirit of the law is often lost in the letter of it.

Yet, the people are genuinely trying. They are imperfect, but loving, and I'm grateful for their efforts.