About once a month, my turn rolls around to teach in Relief Society at church. I love the Sundays that I get to teach. Today was one of them.
Before the lesson started, when all the beautiful ladies were filing in from various Sunday School classes, some of my neighbors found out I was teaching. And then proceeded to tell me how excited they were because I was their favorite teacher. (Very unrelated side note: I felt a very strong urge to spell favorite the British way with a u just now: favourite...Anyway) I was--and still am--so touched. Just the thought that I am able to successfully convey my thoughts and, more importantly, the principles of the gospel and the Spirit to the wonderful girls in my ward is amazing. They teach me every Sunday with their comments so much more than I could ever hope to teach them, and yet somehow, I do.
But do you realize how terrifying that is? Although it was very flattering and humbling to have these girls I admire tell me how much they enjoy my lessons, it absolutely terrifies me. The sheer responsibility of my calling just hit me. Although the ladies in my ward already have strong testimonies of the Restored Church, I teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of its truthfulness. My preparation, or lack thereof, can either make or break the Spirit in the meeting. It is my responsibility to be the instrument of the Lord, to convey the words and principles He wants His daughters to know to them. It is such a daunting task, but then I say a prayer in my heart that I can teach how and what He wants me to, and the opening prayer asks for a blessing upon the instructor and I know that even though she doesn't know me, she's going to have her heart open and be listening and that both of our prayers will be answered and I will have help.
When I teach, it's not me speaking. I think the closest I've ever been to the Spirit is when I'm giving my lessons. Preparing, I cover everything, learn so much. But teaching, I just jump-start the discussion and keep it on track, letting the comments, and the Spirit take the lesson where they will. I've noticed the same pattern in each lesson I've given. I'm fine, then I get nervous, start the lesson and the first ten minutes drag. I am so worried I won't be able to fill up the time, that I won't be able to bring the Spirit. Then girls start making comments and the lesson starts to flow and my order gets all jumbled, but that's what I was expecting, and I can actually figure out how all these different pieces I pulled are all going to tie together, and the Spirit leads. I don't remember what I said, because it wasn't me. I am not the teacher when I teach. I am the student. I learn from the comments given, by the overwhelming Spirit that guides my thoughts and my words for those 30 minutes. And all of a sudden, I look up at the clock, and I only have 5 minutes left, and I just want to stay there, sharing my testimony and listening to my girls share theirs, all learning and growing and being edified, not because of the lesson I have prepared, but because of our Heavenly Father's lesson that by some miracle I have the honor, joy and responsibility to be the mouthpiece for.
While preparing the lesson I gave today and looking back on how it went and the previous lessons "I've" given, the other thoughts that have been weighing on my mind all clicked together. I love teaching and I know that I have been blessed with the ability to communicate and be a good teacher, especially in the gospel, and especially as I make good choices in my life. But that doesn't mean that I don't need the practice of teaching God's message to His children. And it most certainly does mean that I need to use those talents and live up to that completely daunting and overwhelming potential and responsibility I have, because EVERY SINGLE ONE of our Heavenly Father's children needs the gospel. They need to hear it and feel of His love for them. And while thinking upon all these things, I realized that the reason I am a Relief Society teacher this year, no matter how inadequate I feel--especially because of how inadequate I feel, is to help prepare me for my mission.
I think most of the people who read this blog know that I'm planning on serving a mission. Well, it's getting closer. And it's becoming more official. I've picked an availability date, which means I figured out when I can put my papers in, and when I should start working on them. I'll have my call beginning/middle of October. Considering that I've already signed a contract for next Fall (and put my name on the "sell" list for the Winter half), October doesn't seem too far away. Within the next year, I should be wearing one of these that says "Sister Ashby":
And doing this:
I am so excited and so scared to death (but mostly excited) and I can't wait. And although I feel like I am the least qualified and eloquent and adequate person to be sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world, I know that He will be with me, helping me, giving me the power of His Spirit. And I know that He is helping to prepare me now, with the abilities, knowledge, confidence, and love that I will need to bring His truth to the rest of God's children.