Thursday, January 19, 2017

Weirdly Relatable

I teach Relief Society once a month in my ward (for my non-LDS readers out there, that means that I've been asked to teach in our adult women's class). I was *thrilled* to be called to teach again! Teaching has always been one of my favorite callings...except when I was called to teach a class of ELEVEN four-year olds...holy. that's the closest I've ever been to leaving the church haha. (jk.) (kind of.). ← can someone teach me about punctuation because this looks insane to me...

Sometimes teaching in RS can be a bit...well, weird. I stand up in front of this group of women and try to make stories from the scriptures or church history relatable. The problem, I've found,  is that a lot of these stories are really UNrelatable...and it makes my job a little bit tricky.

EXAMPLE FROM LAST MONTH'S LESSON: Can we talk about Abraham sacrificing Isaac for a second?? How is that story relatable?? To anyone?! I mean...honestly. Is the person who wrote the lesson manual really expecting for all of us to go, "Yes, I need to strive for the faith to sacrifice my kids if I heard a voice telling me to." ...umm WHAT?! No, lesson manual writer, no that's not how I would respond if I heard that voice. I know what the lesson is getting at, for the record, but it's hard for me to get past how bizarre the story is! And we just get so used to hearing these stories that we forget to stop and really LOOK at the surrounding circumstances! I mean, they're bananas!

If I heard a voice telling me to sacrifice my child - my ONLY child...the child my wife begged God for over the course of a lifetime and then gestated that child in an 80-year old body (can you even imagine the misery?!) - I would probably check myself into the nearest mental hospital. For my own safety, really...because I know that my wife would KILL me if she knew I was thinking about harming that child. Wait - why do I have a wife in this story?! This is getting weird. You know what I'm saying, though, right?

So instead of even getting to the deeper meaning behind the story of Abraham and Isaac, I led a very interesting discussion on being pregnant at 80 years old and what a hardcore woman Sariah must have been. TRUTH: 'hardcore' is the edited version of the word I first typed to describe Sariah. I was pretty sure they were going to release me after that one. NOTE: I have not been released...yet.

This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just like it and think it's cute. 
I though I'd post it right here in case you're thinking,"Wow Calee is a total crazy person"
because...this picture is so cute that it might make you decide that you like me anyway. it working..?

My lesson this month was on being an ensign and a light to the world (I taught this last Sunday). When I first glanced over the lesson, I felt a little nervous to be tasked with teaching such a broad topic...where would I even start? The section on the early pioneers and their 'prophetic vision' had me particularly worried. I mean...what kind of strange and unrelatable things was I going to find in there?! I'm not a pioneer. I don't do pioneer things. ← I want to change the title of this post to 'I don't do pioneer things' haha. best line thus far.

But you know what happened..? I had a real moment while reading that section. A moment where I those early pioneers, those leaders with prophetic vision. Here's what caught my attention:

'I marvel at the foresight of that little group. It was both audacious and bold. It was almost unbelievable. Here they were, almost a thousand miles from the nearest settlement to the east and almost eight hundred miles from the Pacific coast. They were in an untried climate. The soil was different than the black loam of Illinois and Iowa, where they had most recently lived. They had never raised a crop there. They had never experienced a winter. They had not built a structure of any kind. These prophets, dressed in old, travel-worn clothes, standing in boots they had worn for more than a thousand miles from Nauvoo to this valley, spoke of a millennial vision. They spoke out of a prophetic view of the marvelous destiny of this cause. They came down from the peak that day and went to work to bring reality to their dreams. '

As I read that section, my mind went to each woman in my ward. I wondered how many of them feel like they've been working hard to follow God's voice in their lives, how many of them have experienced treacherous (emotional/mental/spiritual) paths? How many feel they've been asked to 'walk' (mentally/emotionally/spiritually) over a thousand miles with little resources, experiencing intense suffering along the way? And then, after choices have been made and 'arrivals' have been realized (like, starting a family or committing to a career path), how many of them feel like they don't have the tools to figure out what to do next? How many are exhausted and feeling like they could really use a break from all of the hard work..?

Each of us stands in 'untried climates'. With each new challenge we face - financial struggles, marital issues, a child who has been hurt or abused, a child who is rebellious, health problems, addiction/substance abuse, etc - we find ourselves on new ground. We've never 'raised crops' on this ground, we've never experienced this exact challenge before. Maybe you don't feel like you have the spiritual/emotional/mental tools or resources to 'build structures' to protect yourself or your family along the way. Just like those pioneer families, though, we are a part of this marvelous cause. Can we work on faith..? Can we rely on God to follow through on His promises?

I'm sure there were days when the saints wondered if God had forgotten them. It's 13 degrees outside right now in American Fork, Utah, and I can't help but think of those early saints in rudimentary houses braving that first winter. They survived, though...although I have no doubt that survival was hard fought.

The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is this: We might not know HOW God is going to bring all of the pieces of our messy lives into focus and make all of the brokenness right...but if we have enough faith in the WHY, we'll be ok. HINT: the WHY is that He loves us. 

Heavenly Father has been leading His children through deserts and across oceans and out of slavery and through the wilderness since the beginning of time.

YOU are a part of that glorious heritage - embrace the journey.

AKA Put on your hiking boots and get to walking, lovers. ♥


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