Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When We're Helping, We're Happy?

Let me start off by saying that I wouldn't go back to a singles ward. Ever. MAYBE if you paid me, but it would have to be quite a sum; as in, enough to pay off my parents' house and buy my own 100 acre property in Montana with cash on the barrel head.

In any case, when I left the singles ward scene for good, I left behind three official callings: Relief Society teacher, ward organist, and choir accompanist. I was fine doing all three, even when I occasionally ended up doing all three on the same Sunday, because the ward was pretty small by Utah singles ward standards. I figured they needed someone to do it, and it was fine that it was me.

When I moved into a family ward again, I thought for sure the bishop would put me in Primary, because it seems that's what happened to so many of my single friends. He didn't, however. He actually said that he didn't want to just shunt me into Primary by default like so many bishops seemed to do, and he proceeded to call me as the ward music coordinator. I did not do a very good job in that calling, and to this day I have the urge to apologize to the other people who were involved. I eventually got released and didn't have a calling for a couple of months.

I wasn't too surprised when I got called to be a ward organist (one of two, so we always have an alternate in case something happens) again. I was glad for the chance--I like being up there playing a big instrument that intimidates so many people. I enjoy the hymns. I'm not at all concerned that people are Looking At Me (or Not). Ok, I'm concerned enough that I try to look nice, but I'm not terribly self-conscious about it.

I wasn't even too surprised when they added a second calling: Primary pianist. I guess the woman who had previously had that calling got called into Young Women and couldn't do both at the same time. This wasn't too big a deal--I'd substituted for her several times already and liked the kids. Unfortunately, because I was also a ward organist and had to stay in the chapel playing postlude music every other Sunday, I couldn't do both hours of Primary. Fortunately, they were able to call another woman to trade off with me.

This was all going rather well up until July. July, I was approached by the second counselor in the bishopric and asked to pick up a third calling. I kind of knew what was going to happen, and I had hoped for a teaching calling of some kind, but something told me it would be in music again. They couldn't have made me the conductor in Sacrament Meeting, and the Relief Society pianist had just been called. I thought, as I waited for the bomb to drop, "oh, please, not choir director."

Guess what? I'm now the choir director. And an organist, and a Primary pianist. It has been an interesting ride so far. So interesting, in fact, that when the second counselor (he's over music callings) called me several weeks ago to talk about how things were going, I blurted out, "well, you can't give me a fourth calling!" He replied, "well, yes we can! (TERROR) But we're not! (RELIEF)"

The arrangement seems to be working out (despite my trepidation toward and intimidation of leading the choir) but there are a couple of glitches: First, and less important, the other Primary pianist is going on a mission in a few months and, like I said, it seems that every other musically inclined person in a large ward is already in a demanding calling. I'm totally willing to cut postlude short and book it to Primary. I don't know how much the Primary presidency would appreciate that, but I'd give it a good shot.

Second, and more important, I sometimes feel like I'm showing off and it's the Sister Trixie One-Woman Talent Show. This last Sunday, the other organist was out of town so I played for her. I also led the choir. The two events just happened to coincide awkwardly with her being gone. Then, after Sunday School, I played for the second hour of Primary.

I hope the new members in the ward, or those who seem to have it in for me for some reason, know that I DON'T do this on purpose. I didn't ask for all these callings, but I long ago made peace with the idea that I'll probably always be doing something musical in every ward I'm in. I have a bit of musical talent but nothing profound or brilliant. I just believe that you accept the callings issued, and you don't ask to be released except in extreme circumstances. I mean, I had a stake president once who contracted cancer and didn't ask to be released--he soldiered on in pain and the faith that this was where Heavenly Father wanted him. I believe that sometimes callings are issued out of need AND out of inspiration. If this is where Heavenly Father wants me, I'll do the best I can.

I suppose, if someone doesn't like it, at least they don't have to do it.

I have faith that this is where Heavenly Father wants me to serve, and I hope I can be faithful enough that I wouldn't ask to be released...even if I had cancer.


Roxie said...

I went back to singles wards for one year several years after leaving them in college. They have their place and their purpose, they just weren't for me.

And I'm very glad neither of us was ever shunted in to Primary. Primary is great, but it isn't a catch-all. I've served there twice. The first time the bishop told me the Primary president had been asking for me for over a year but he did not feel that was where I needed to be until then.

I'm always grateful for those with musical talents. I wish I was stronger in that area.