Monday, August 15, 2011

What I Learned from My Calling

It's over. I was released. After more than 2.5 years, my Wednesday nights are empty again.

When I read obituaries in the Salt Lake Tribune, I see this text often: "LaRue loved serving in _____." I'm really not sure I could say that about the Young Women. To be fair, I'm not sure I could say that about any calling, really; it's just my personality. I'll do it because the Bishop asks, and I'll try to do the best job I know how. However, I'm pretty sure I'll never be one of those women who really loves doing any church job. I'm okay with that.

I will say, however, that I really did enjoy it. Yes, it took a lot of hours and feelings of guilt ("Am I doing enough?"), but I love that age of person. Even though I don't want Rhett to be a teenager now, I still really look forward to when he is. I feel I relate to them so much better than to Primary-aged kids and sometimes even better than I relate to the Relief Society. So now that I'm released, I really do fear what comes next, because for me, the new calling could be so, so much worse.

What did I learn? To be honest, most of what I learned was about parenting teens. Or, sometimes, how not to parent teens. (And just so you know, most of this is recorded for my sake, since obviously they are the things that bothered me. Please take no offense as none is intended. I know I have no teens yet and therefore my stances could totally change in the next ten years. Won't this be a funny post then?!)

1. Teaching the Gospel at home really does matter and make a difference. If I didn't know anything about the parents of my girls, I could easily split them into two groups: those who got Gospel instruction (meaning FHE, scripture study, prayers, discussions) at home and those who didn't. It really does make a difference. So sometimes when I feel like I don't want to do that kind of stuff at home with Rhett and Ollie, I am reminded of how much they'll need it in 10-15 years and I'm pulled right back to it. Seriously people, it makes a difference.

2. Church stuff (mutual night, Sunday classes, youth conference, girls' camp) isn't optional. I'm sorry if you don't want to go, but you're going. You're going because you need to support leaders who planned activities. You're going because you need to learn that that's just what we do as church members. You're going because you know that once you get there, you always have a good time. The end.

3. Electronics are not necessary when you go to these church activities. Okay, okay, I may not have a fancy iPod with my scriptures on it (whoops--now I do!), but do I really need it? No, I have them in hard copy. To have the electronics (phones or MP3 players) is simply a distraction (in my experience). And your phone? Honestly? You can't go three hours without texting your friends or playing Angry Birds? These things simply don't belong at church for the youth. I went through YW without it all and I survived. If there's an emergency, adults will have the ability (re: legs) to contact parents (who are likely just upstairs in Relief Society/Priesthood/Primary).

4. Manners matter too! It's amazing to me how many of the girls when given a treat or after a lesson, don't remember to say thank you. Really?!

5. I'm not sure if this is a function of living outside of a heavily-Mormon-populated area or just my ward, but when the youth don't see each other often (most of my two dozen girls were spread out over 12 or so schools, meaning only one or two at each school), the cliques that I experienced during YW days in Utah don't exist here. These girls never get tired of seeing each other. I had very little (if any) backbiting, for which I am truly in awe. The girls really amazed me in this.

6. Youth will never know what a sacrifice it is to be a leader of youth until they are such a leader. Sure they love (for the most part) attending mutual, camp, sleepovers, etc. But they really don't know how much you don't. They don't know how much the leaders would rather be at home with their own families (you know, spouses we chose!), than at _____ (camp, mutual, youth conference, etc.). Especially when going to _____ requires either the mom or dad to take off work to watch kids or be at camp. It's a sacrifice for sure. A sacrifice we'll do willingly, but a sacrifice nonetheless.

7. Learn how to commit to things. If you say you're going to do something, do it. Don't pull out of something big (cough cough, Girls' Camp, Youth Conference) two days in advance. You know, after monies have been paid and meals planned and transportation arranged. On the flip side, if you want to do something, tell planners in advance! Two days notice is bad enough to pull out of something, but it's even harder to want to go in. Make a decision and then stick with it (emergencies excepted, of course).

8. To have a youth in the YM/YW programs might mean that you as parents have to get involved (should work/family schedules allow). It means that you might have to go to camp; it means that you might have to go to youth conference; it means that you might have to chaperone a youth dance. I feel so strongly about this that Chuck and I have already had conversations about the activities we'll be attending once the boys are old enough (he: Boy Scout camp, me: pedicures while the boys are at Boy Scout camp).

9. Finally, laugh. Seriously, teenaged girls are about the funniest things on the planet. Remember the hyper? It still makes me laugh. These girls are energetic, creative, and just plain hysterical. I will miss them.


  1. Ah ha. You're released! Can you believe it? Sounds like you learned a lot. Oh my oh my... I cannot imagine our kiddos as youth. So glad to hear that the girls were non-cliquish, creative, and hyper. I'm just worried about my girls being awkward (like I was!).

  2. Erin, wow, these are all awesome.

    congratulations on being released and on a great job. There have been a few callings I've loved, but they all have seemed to teach me and make me better in the end. Plus I always meet the best people aka you and natalie through nursery!!! :)

  3. i love it - some really great stuff you learned and shared. i think it's brilliant in its simplicity.

    i think i do know of a calling that you'd love (besides ward statistician cuz i've really never heard of it. . .): Primary Secretary. i'm totally serious. it's the BEST. you don't teach kids. you just get to sit in primary (and you think youth are hilarious, try little ones!) and do rolls, agendas, organize, etc. it's awesome.

  4. Erin, I agree with every single word of this post!! Amen, sista! Watching Todd work with young men in CT, and working myself with the YW right now, I can say that we have learned all of these same lessons and feel very strongly about them. Alia is getting terrifyingly close to entering this stage, and I think this calling has helped me prepare a bit for it. And it has certainly taught me about what kind of parent I want to be for my teenagers and how to help them in church related things.

    Good luck with your newfound freedom (I hope you get a bitty break before a new calling :-) I'm always terrified of what will come next too.

  5. I have NEVER served in YW, weird, right? I thought for sure by now I would have, but NO. Everything but. However P has almost ALWAYS been in YM and we do have little ones, so if we were both out Wednesday nights it may be tricky......ANYWAY........loved reading the lessons and at this stage, I completely and totally agree with what you said. They will MISS you I'm sure. I hope you get a BREAK for a bit now. ;)

  6. I can't imagine the relief you must be feeling :) Congrats on a stellar job as YW Pres. And I think Emily is right, you would love Primary Secretary. Maybe not so much in RW as the secretary is sort of a 4th counselor and does have to teach on occassion and help plan.

    Good luck, I hate that unknown period when you're without a calling and you dread the phone call from Bishop as it could go 2 ways :)

  7. this is really good insight. thanks. I was released from Primary three weeks ago, after being in Primary for 5 years. I still haven't been called to anything else yet. The last time I was without a calling for so long was after my mission before I returned to BYU. crazy. I've always felt intimidated by YWs. I don't think I'll be headed there this time because they just reorganized that at the same time as Primary. But I will definitely file this post away for future and current remembering.

  8. Can I say AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!! If I was a better writer and journal keeping woman I would say it all exactly. Can I copy this and hand it over to the bishop so he can hand it out to the parents of the youth?! I love all of this and may just have to print it out for myself. After all, Evan only has another year until he enters this phase. I need to remember :)