Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's not about you.

A quiet moment is terribly elusive these days, which is probably why it's taken me so long to sit and write.  The last few months have been interesting, to say the least, and I find that retrospection and introspection have become my constant companions.

A few months ago, there started to be chatter in the ward about the pending change of the guard as the Bishopric was nearing their five year tenure.  I suppose it's the same in all wards, as there's a natural curiosity and even an excitement that comes with change of this type.  There were many moments when Mike and I would catch ourselves speculating who it might be, and without speaking it out loud, my mind would always come back to Mike.  I laughed.  Sometimes out loud.  Then I'd think, "He'd be a GREAT counselor!" But just as quickly as the thought would come into my mind, another thought would replace it: Bishop.  This went on for a good two months until finally I forced myself to stop thinking about it altogether.  It was just too "unrealistic" and honestly, I didn't want to think about the consequences a call of this magnitude would mean for our young family.  Too overwhelming.  Too daunting.  Besides, with two time-consuming callings of my own, a fledgling company to run, a household to maintain and a family to raise, I was looking for ways to remove burdens, not add them to our platters.
One Sunday particularly embodied the old adage, "Anything that can go wrong, will."  After a rough night for Dixon (which translates into no sleep for Mom and Dad), Mike got up and left for his usual 7 am Stake meetings.  Before my feet could even hit the floor, I was in a bad mood.  I awoke to find that the kids had gotten up and poured their own cereal, which, around here is the equivalent to a monsoon roaring through the kitchen.  Cereal and milk were everywhere, and as if that wasn't enough, two of my lovely children were now throwing up that cereal and milk.  Talk about wanting to move to Australia.  I kept trying to talk myself out of being such a grump, but I was not budging.  My day continued, with little nuisances being thrown at me right and left and I was just plain angry about it all.  Angry that I didn't get to go to church.  Angry that my children couldn't see that mom was in a bad mood, so they should be on their best behavior so as to make things easier on their poor mother.  Angry that I had to answer the darn mortuary phone every time it rang.  Angry that I had to clean up puke.  Angry that I had to break up fights and listen to squabbling and pick up dirty socks laying on the floor.  Angry that Mike got to sit peacefully through his meetings and feel the Spirit and pay attention to talks and lessons.  Angry that I was still in pajamas with greasy hair hanging in my face. Angry. Angry. Angry. 
Then the phone rang.  Too angry to answer, I let it go to voicemail.  "Brother Stringham, this is Pres. Austad.  I'd like to speak with you for a minute if I could today..."  Not an unusual request, considering Mike's on the High Council.  It's probably just something having to do with the Blood Drive or Pennies by the Inch.  But I knew it had nothing to do with the blood drive or with Pennies by the Inch.  Mike came in and I mumbled to him angrily that there was a message for him on the phone.  He listened to the message, then went to our room and shut the door.  Moments later, he came into the kitchen where I was stirring dinner on the stove--in my pajams, with my greasy hair pulled back in a pony.  Pres. Austad wants to see us tonight.   "D@%!-it!"  I whisper-yelled as I burned myself on the stove, letting a superlative fly that hadn't come from my lips in years.  I spun around to see Mike standing with the phone in his hand, awaiting my reply, which clearly was not the one he was expecting as the Stake Pres. listened on the other end of the line.  With a look of horror, I said, "Yes, of course we'll come see him."  Then with a knot in the pit of my stomach, I finally dragged my angry, filthy self into the shower.
How can the Lord ask us to do this? We can't possibly manage this calling.  How am I going to do this on my own, without Mike there to help me?  Is this really happening?  Couldn't it be something else?
Then, with a clarity my mind rarely enjoys, the thought came, "It's not about you."  Well, that was enough.  My pity party had been crashed and I knew it was time to just stop being angry.  We left the puking children at home with Maggie and went to the Stake offices where we were greeted warmly by Pres. Austad.  The dread was gone.  The knot in my stomach was gone, and Mike's vice-grip on my hand had loosened considerably.  Pres. Austad pushed a letter across the desk to us and said, "I received this letter in the mail this week from the First Presidency, directing me to call you, Brother Stringham, as the Bishop of the Roy 8th Ward."  The Spirit in the room was palpable.  The call was accepted without reservation as we knew that we'd been prepared to receive it.  The promptings and thoughts we'd had in the months preceding all made perfect sense.  Our inability to leave the mortuary and consequently the ward, no matter how many times we tried, made perfect sense.  The several responsibilities Mike had been given as a High Councilor, and that he unquestioningly fulfilled, prepared him to serve in this capacity.  Hindsight is an amazing blessing.
We kept this information to ourselves for nearly a month.  Only a few family members were even made aware of the call before last week's Sacrament Meeting, and by the look of surprise on people's faces as we walked into the chapel with our little entourage, it was an unexpected change.

I'm excited for Mike--not that I'm looking forward to him riding an emotional roller coaster as he'll try to help people through their trials and challenges and heartaches.  But I know that with all this will come a new understanding and a new kind of growth.  I've seen how being on the High Council has changed him, and I can only assume that the Lord has even more work to do on him, and I'm so proud of the way Mike has allowed himself to be what the Lord wants him to be. 

I don't pretend to know the first thing about being a Bishop's wife, but I think I'll manage as long as I can remember, "It's not about you." we go!  Wish us luck, and a few prayers our way would be appreciated!


Tara said...

I hope you will copy this post and put it in your journal. Beautiful.

julie said...

I love that you swore! And I love that the Stake Pres. overheard it. :)

Mike will undoubtely be a wonderful bishop! You will conquer this beautifully, as you do all things; and you'll get blessings untold too!

Love you guys!

Ardie said...

What an exciting/terrifying new adventure for you all. Congratulations(?) and (definitely) good luck! :)

Jen said...

I love this post! Thanks for sharing the ugly as well as the beautiful. I would say 'good luck', but I don't think luck has anything to do with it. The Lord didn't just choose Mike -- he chose YOU. Because he knew you could handle it together.

Ashlee said...

I love that you captured our feelings during this time. I related to your post and I promise you, based on our experience, the blessings will flow. I look back and am so grateful for that calling as it seemed we were so blessed because of it.