The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the world’s oldest, largest women’s organizations and for the past three years, I’ve served as a voluntary president of a ward (think church congregation). In that time of dedicated–sometimes intense–service, my faith has grown, my hope in humanity has been strengthened and my resolve to be better has increased. The responsibilities of a Relief Society president vary widely, from overseeing the spiritual welfare of the women in her stewardship to the more practical, such as helping families who are struggling ensure that their temporal needs are taken care of.
More than my own relatively meager amount of work, I’ve been in awe of those who’ve served with me. I’ve been gently taught by the several counselors and secretaries who’ve helped me along the way, been privy to small (and sometimes incredible), anonymous acts of service to others, and have seen how much of an impact combined efforts could make. I’ve known women to collectively celebrate the birth of a child by sending over meals, prepare food for funeral luncheons, provide life-saving birthing kits, clothing to the homeless, food for parents of sick and suffering children, toiletries to abused women and more. It is always a privilege to contribute to such important work.
I’m not under any delusion that my service was perfect. I stumbled many times, got frustrated with others’ imperfections as well as my own, received anonymous letters outlining where I was failing, was told I was ho-hum, have caught myself being judgmental, missed out on opportunities because I failed to act on revelation…I could go on and on and on. It all adds up to a lot of guilt and regret that I could have done better, but didn’t. Ironically, many of the lessons I needed to learn came because of my failings and if nothing else, has encouraged me to try harder next time.
It’s been nearly a month since I’ve been released and though I catch myself wishing I would have done more, I’m coming to feel that Heavenly Father is satisfied with my service. It was a privilege to stand with my Savior in succoring and strengthening others and one of the biggest blessings I count is having seen the growth and understanding in my children, who were often at my side as we tried our best to serve. So often, they were patient, understanding and instructed me with childlike simplicity.
Being a member of Relief Society is a cherished blessing where I’ve learned what it truly means to be a daughter of God and with His help, how much I can stretch myself beyond my own comfort zones so others can feel that same divine worth in themselves. Plus, the women I associate with through church are some of the world’s finest. Their examples encourage me, their kindness astounds me and their selflessness is incredible.