When I was asked to serve as the young women's president in our congregation a year-and-a-half ago I cried.
It wasn't that I didn't want to work with those girls.
And it wasn't that I didn't think that it would bring blessings to our family.
It was because I was overwhelmed with life in general and I didn't think I could ever be the kind of leader those girls would need. Plus, I was comfortable behind the scenes. I couldn't lead the scenes for crying out loud!
When I talked to the outgoing president she cried too.
She didn't want to let it go.
I looked at her like she was a crazy person.
I was sure she had grown accustomed to the demands involved and that she had certainly had some incredible experiences. But had she forgotten about the time and life she was getting back in letting it go? Did she realize how much her family would benefit from having her be "theirs" again?
I told myself that on the day I would give up that calling to someone else down the road I would skip merrily on my way.
I know that sounds horrible. I mean, really, it's an incredible honor to be able to work with the youth. But as I sat there pouring over the files and supplies and instructions I had been given there was a black cloud over my head. How would I ever, ever be able to do this? And how would I ever morph myself into the kind of leader the girls would need?
Time passed and I forgot about my insecurities and woes. The black cloud thinned out and turned into a rainbow.
And I fell head-over-heels in love with those girls.
It turned out the girls "led" me instead of me leading them. And I got to bask in their "light" each week.
Sure, it was an even bigger time commitment than I had braced myself for. It took every ounce of energy I could give. And yes, it has certainly taken me away from my family. A whole bunch.
But what I didn't realize in those first incredulous days is that serving in a position like that has the power to strengthen your family. My girls (and even my boys...including Dave:) have been blessed in countless ways over this period of life we have shared with these shining, vibrant young girls. And so have I. More than I can ever explain.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I was released as the young women's president.
I knew when we bought our new house that it meant this day would come. I mean, we're moving into a different neighborhood which means we will meet with different people at a different time on Sundays so everything changes.
I figured I could make it until after girls camp this summer and pass the reins over after that.
But as Dave and I contemplated the unknown time frame of when we will actually move and counted up the amount of times I will be out of town for various things on top of the time it is going to take just for sheer house planning, etc. etc., I realized those girls need someone who can focus on and be there for them more and Dave and my kids need something more than an eyes-glazed-over-from-lack-of-sleep crazy lady who couldn't so much as glance at house remodeling possibilities without wanting to cry.
As much as I selfishly wanted to hold on to those girls, in counseling with Dave and our church leaders we knew it was time.
I knew that I had the perfect person serving with me who would be able to take over as the new president without batting eye. (If you don't believe me watch this "flash-dance" she made up for our New Beginnings program...I knew from the moment I met her she'd be perfect.) So we set the ball rolling for some changes.
I anticipated that the change would be sad, so each week that a change didn't happen I wore a little secret smile on the inside knowing I got to soak up these girls for that much longer. But a couple weeks ago I got a call from the overwhelmed but excited newly-called president and the change was made that next Sunday.
As I handed her over all the stuff I could hardly stand letting go of the silliest things...the papers, the scribbled out thoughts of things to remember and do, the quotes I wanted to remember to share...
Although I knew it would he tough to let go, I never anticipated breaking down crying when they made the announcement or looking at Claire bawling down the isle or a couple of my laurels a couple rows over. Then that got me going even worse.
It's gut-wrenching to say goodbye to life as you know it being surrounded by girls who teach you so much....and bring out part of you you never knew existed.
Sure I'll still see them at church each week. And sure, I can always get a hold of them at a moment's notice. But it's just not the same. I told a few of them they can't understand how much I love them until they get to work with Young Women some day. It's just a kind of love and concern that is indescribable.
But man oh man as sad as it is, it's also a celebration. What lucky girls they are to get their new leaders who are all so outstanding. I told them it's going to be like Disneyland with a spiritual twist in there with all the fun they are going to have going on, and I think they know it :).
I'll miss these Laurels like crazy (and the others who weren't there that day), and the Laurel leaders who I have spent so much time with.
And oh how I will miss working with all the leaders including this presidency. I have learned so much from them.
But I will be with my family and we will be moving on :(
On the first Wednesday night I didn't have any reminder texts about activities to send out and I let myself relax with my family they dropped by to give me some flowers....
...and a book:
...filled with nice notes and fun memories.
How I will treasure it.And how I will always treasure my time with these girls. I hope they know how much their "lights" have changed mine, and that I'll be forever thankful for them.
As I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks in my pew that Sunday, I remembered the tears of the outgoing president before me. And I smiled to myself that I had learned her secret despite myself. I had learned that the sacrifice of doing what I've been doing has changed me for the better. It's changed my family too.
We have all given pieces of ourselves and received bounteous blessings in return. How grateful I am for that opportunity.