Sunday, September 20, 2009

Young Women--Reflections

About 15 months ago, I had a dream that I remembered. I rarely remember my dreams, but in this dream I clearly remember teaching piano lessons to an eleven-year-old girl in my ward. The next Sunday she sat down next to me as I began to play music for the primary children, but she was quickly ushered to her seat because singing time was about ready to begin. I felt strongly that I must give this girl a chance to learn to play the piano. Little did I know the journey that I would begin.

A month or so later, I was called to be a counselor to the Young Women's presidency in my ward. As I was getting settled in, this girl turned twelve and entered the Young Women's program. I had been trying to arrange a way to teach her the piano; I offered my services (free); she had been asking her Mom, but things were not working out. When she entered Young Women's I told her I could give her a lesson before or after activities. I gave her a book to study which she promptly left in a chair. I quietly picked that book up, not really sure what steps to take. Maybe I was going about this the wrong way. Maybe I was not interpreting my dream correctly. But I already had a bond to her and loved her simply because of this dream that I had had.

This bond came in handy the first time I taught her in Young Womens. She decided to test me. I was intolerant of the distractions she was creating. She had a hard time in church and would often try to escape to Relief Society where her Mom was. I can recall only one lesson where she sat in a chair with the rest of her classmates the entire way through. I tried to be firm and kind at first, but as the year progressed, I just started to ignore her distractions while I was teaching.

Any time I've had a calling where I've planned activities and taught lessons, I have always tried to keep the needs of every girl I teach in mind. We'd select lessons for the girls often to be disappointed because they didn't come. With every lesson, I'd watch for the spark in their eyes, just waiting for something to start them on fire. But after a year of teaching and loving and being around these girls, I see clearly now that the Spirit is the one and only teacher. And adversity is often what causes people to seek the Spirit so they can learn their lessons.

So what happens when adversity strikes someone who is in your stewardship? I've seen this a lot this year. I've learned that I can't take anyone's problems for them. I cannot put them upon myself. I can believe in them. I can pray for them. I can listen to them. And if I have the opportunity to teach them, I can do my very best to listen to the Spirit so that they can hear the Spirit tell them whatever they need to hear.

This Young Women's calling was very difficult for me. I loved the time I spent with the girls and I rejoice in the moments spent with them, but it was pure torture on many levels as well. My husband's work schedule does not accommodate regular weekly evening activities very well. Throughout my calling I often had no idea if he would be able to make it home to care for the children. Either way I had to disrupt my children's evening routine. This was a very busy year for me. For half of it I was pregnant and for the other half I had a baby attached to me almost all the time. I find it very odd that this was the year the Lord chose me to work with the young women because I certainly was not able to give my all. So the young women did not get my all. And my children didn't quite get my all. But, together they took all.

But oh the blessings of just doing what you're called to do . . . It's a blessing to be a part of any young person's life. It's inspiring to watch their abilities increase and to watch them discover and pursue talents. I looked one of the older girls in the eyes today, and I could see clearly that she's almost all grown up. And I felt that she was going to be okay.

Oh, and the dream? What did it mean? Maybe I will teach this girl. Who knows? Obviously she wasn't ready yet, but she's only thirteen! This year I've been shown that we can only learn block by block on what we know all ready. It takes us all different amounts of time to learn different things. Now someone else is responsible for these girls. I am sad and relieved all at once. Good bye calling. May I get another chance some day...


tenacious d said...

There is a time-release quality to loving service that keeps us from knowing exactly how we've affected those we serve and how serving has affected us. It sounds like you really did give it your all, given the constraints you had at the time.

Love you, M! You are such an example to me of perserverance and love.

Rebecca said...

oh my goodness, i was shocked when I got the call from bishop. a little relieved, too, but sad and anxious. I will miss the girls and working so closely with everyone... By the way, you did a fantastic job. There were so many areas where you compensated for what the rest of us lacked!

Rebecca said...

by the way this is deanna signed in to my sister in law's account!

Jess said...

You write beautifully.
I have not yet been called to teach Young Women, but I fear it the most, because it is so important so terribly difficult at the same time. It sounds like you did your best, which is exactly what the Lord asks of you and exactly what the girls needed, whether they realized it or not.

Witty said...

You're wonderful, I love you, and I've never known you to not give your all. Thanks for being such a great example to me!

Martino Family said...

I am in quiet reflection to of my time serving the youth...odd that I was just commenting how much I miss working with that age group, as I find myself partial to my 11 year old girls in primary because I must see them already as the young women I so loved working with.

I am certain that you left your mark on their lives, and I am sure the Lord has something in mind for you. If you don't have another calling yet...breathe. Take a break. Enjoy the lighter church bag!

Prairie Smoke said...

Everything happens for a reason. I'm glad you had the opportunity, but I'm glad it's over.