Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I've been thinking about guilt, regret, and retrospect lately.

I've also been thinking about helping versus enabling, but perhaps this all might be a little too much to cover in one blog entry.

So I'll focus on guilt.

A few weeks ago, I asked the bishop to release me from my calling in the Primary. In retrospect, I should have asked to be released much sooner, or not accepted the calling to begin with.

When the bishop first asked me to be the Sunbeam teacher, I was delighted. I was also scheduled for knee surgery the following week, but told him I was sure I'd be ready to teach a few weeks after the operation. Those few weeks came and went, and though my spirit was willing, my flesh - not so much. But I did it anyway. It was my calling! My kids tripped over and climbed on my crutches for a few months, and when I stopped using crutches, my kids tripped over and climbed on me. My friends in the ward were happy for me.

"Looks like you’re all better now!”

Thing was, I wasn't. But I thought I should be, and I couldn't ask to be released. I'd never done that.

Well, except on my mission.

When I first hurt my knee in Montreal, I thought I just needed to have more faith. This hypothesis was backed up by many fellow (mostly male) missionaries.

“Just have faith, and you will be healed!”

I did, but I wasn't. Instead, I was paired with an amazing girl who also had debilitating health problems, and we spent several incredibly difficult and wonderful months together, lying on our beds, telling each other stories about our lives. Rarely well enough to proselytize, and only able to read scriptures and Ensigns for so many hours a day, we soon learned almost everything about each other. I'm sure if you asked her, she could tell you the names of all my friends' boyfriends. And I could tell you the plots of all of Stephen King's novels, even though I'd never read any.

(She was a big fan.)

I don't regret one minute of our time together, but I do regret the guilt I felt for not getting well. (That, and the guilt I felt for talking about boys and Pet Sematary.) Guilt kept me on my mission far longer than I should have been, and pushing myself because of that guilt is the main reason surgery was recently required.

My husband and family members told me from my first Sunday with the Sunbeams that I should ask to be released. But I couldn't ask. I looked healthy - everybody said so! When I went home, my knee spent the rest of Sunday (and sometimes Monday) on ice and painkillers, but there were people with far worse handicaps! Some people with missing limbs run marathons!

In retrospect, I was being ridiculous. Especially since I had (and have) two other callings. TWO.

A friend of mine once said:

“Faith is not the power of positive thinking. It's submission to the will of God."

I often find it difficult to decipher God's will, but I don't think he wanted me messing up my knee - either in California or Montreal. When I finally prayed and asked if it was okay to leave my mission early, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and peace. I hadn't expected that.

So, I no longer teach in the Primary. I don't regret asking to be released.

And I only feel the slightest bit guilty.


c jane said...

Loved this post Emmie, especially the part about submission to God's will vs. positive thinking.
(I am only sorry that we won't hear anymore Primary stories from you.)

Rachel said...

you know, i think we have a culture that breeds guilt---not intentionally, but still....let's just say it's my least fave aspect of the "church."

i always maintain that i would say no to a calling that i didn't feel i could fulfill; but when it comes down to it, i don't really know if i could. but i'm adament that i would! so where's the disconnect. anyway, at a ward leadership mtg last sat nite, there was yet another quote from a G.A. saying that we should NEVER turn down a calling. i have to disagree with that. is that okay? From being Pri Pres twice now, i know that callings are sometimes inspired, and sometimes (often for me in my crazy ward) the fact that a normal person with a heartbeat who isn't on megan's list moved into the ward and i don't have a pianist. you know? so i'm glad you could separate faith and positive thinking and overcome the guilt aspect. good for you! may your knee be blessed because of it--

AzĂșcar said...

I'm so proud of you! Now, is one of your other callings Librarian?

Stu said...

Rachel, you may have already seen this, but Bruce Hafen wrote a piece related to that topic here:


It gave me a good excuse to give up some guilt. (I don't know what accounts for all of the rest I gave up too!)

Emmie said...

Thanks, ladies! If you haven't read that talk my hubs linked to - I highly recommend it.

Hee hee. I totally SHOULD be the librarian. Especially after I get my hair blonded on Friday.

(I'm choir director, ward missionary, and substitute organist.)

skanky chris said...

I have spent the last year in a calling that was making me totally crazy. I may enjoy planning parties for family and friends but being the activities chairman of a committee of dysfunctional people was more than I could handle. I once even approached my bishopric advisor and basically told him my calling was giving me anxiety attacks and all I got was the "Oh, you're doing a great job" speech. Sadly, one of the first thoughts I had when I found out my husband would be going to war for 14 months was "Oh goodie! Now I have an excuse to be released!"
It's amazing what our callings can mentally do to us.

~j. said...

Good for you, Emmie. I've been in that difficult position. I wish we could all be blessed with leaders that are in tune enough to know how difficult it can be to ask to be released from a calling that isn't working for us and/or/andtherefore our families (you know, central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children), instead of the, "Oh, I'm sure you're doing a fine job!"