Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Primary Epiphany

So, I've been through some serious emotional trauma over the past few days.
I think I'm ready to talk about it and I won't totally break down again.

Brace yourselves.

I was... released from my calling at church Sunday.
I don't get to teach the kiddos' music anymore.

I know, I know. Half of you are scratching your heads and thinking, translate that from Mormon-speak to english please and the other half of you who are Mormon or at least know the lingo and thinking, seriously?
Why is this such a big deal?
This girl is a Fantastic Pouf.

You are correct. I am in fact, a Fantastic Pouf.
I own it and I'm okay with it. But, let me tell you why I am the way I am.

Wait, first let me explain what being released is. In our church we all do work and jobs and all that but we name them callings. Our church leadership have a job that needs to be done, like teaching music. They pray about who would best fit that role at that time and when they feel like they have the right person in mind they ask them to take the calling and do the job. Typically you have a job for a year or two, then you are released. That means you are done with the calling and someone else gets to do it for awhile.

Callings range from playing piano to teaching a class to running the congregation every week. It is all volunteer and no one gets paid. Some callings are more fun than others I suppose, but they are all pretty great.

So, that is the long and short of that.

Anyhow, I was called about 2 1/2 years ago to be the music person. This was HUGE for me.
(Warning: About to share feelings. Feel free to run screaming.)

You see, we ended up in this ward after a really rough experience in another congregation that left me in particular feeling completely useless and unwanted by people in my church. I had actually reached a point where going to church every week made my physically ill. My Raynauds was in overdrive because of the stress (that is actually when I was diagnosed), I wasn't sleeping on Fridays and Saturdays as the build up to Sunday would just stress me out. The things that occurred at church and with the people at that congregation are things that I would not wish on an enemy (if I had one... sorry, I pretty much think everyone person it coolio in some way, so haters can hate but I refuse to reciprocate. Ooh, a rhyme!).
Having said that, I am far from perfect and I often look back on those horrible experiences and think of all the things I could have done to circumvent the negativity. Some things I could not have fixed, it was just people being nasty, but there are some things I certainly could have handled better. This has been a bit of a burden for me, thinking at how I didn't handle things perfectly but I'm trying to reach a point where I accept that I now know better so I now do better. It is what it is.

Anyhow, when we ended up at this new congregation I just wanted to feel like I was useful. I just wanted to help in any way possible and be WANTED by my ward. I remember telling my bishopric I would dig ditches if they wanted, I just wanted to work.

So, they gave me the job of teaching music to primary kids. It was like a dream come true. I was WANTED! I got to help! So, you had better believe I worked my hiney off every week. I wanted to show that I was a member of the church who contributed and did good things. After the last experience I never wanted to hear another person tell me I was useless again. So I worked hard every week to do my very best to teach those kids. Along the way, I started to just love each child in our ward. Each one was so different but so sweet and funny and special to me. Sometimes they would find me and sit with me during church meetings. Sometimes I would see them around town and they would come hug me. It was wonderful. I have never felt so... wanted and loved in the church.

But, nothing stays the same in our church or in life. This year I could feel that I would be released and frankly, I have been fighting it for months. At the same time, I was prepping the music so whoever replaced me had an easy time coming in because while I didn't want to leave my calling, I didn't want to make things harder for someone else. I spent the last few months trying to come to grips with the fact that I couldn't hang out with those sweet, perfect little kids forever and someone else had to have a turn too.

But, I won't lie, I have been scared. What if this is the only calling I'm good at? What if I'm around adults after this and they realize that I suck and they hate me? Maybe I'm only cool when surrounded by children. These and many other fears have kept me up at night for some time. I didn't want to leave this calling and find out that once again I am disliked and  useless.

On top of this, I have used my Sunday calling as a source of stability while Sam has been adjusting to his new roles at work. I have called it my anchor because I knew every week I needed to do this job and when I got overwhelmed with wacky work hours, new administrative frustrations and just the weirdness that is police work I would just turn back to what I knew wouldn't change: 50 kids who loved me and wanted to sing with me. It was a happy thought every week. I know all police wives have their own methods for coping with the stress that is LEO life... creating anchors in our routines have been the best for me. So, the idea of losing an anchor was kind of terrifying.

I just threw my heart and soul into my weekly adventures with the most wonderful kids on earth. No matter what was going on, I knew I was doing something good and I knew these kiddos loved me as much as I love them.

However, again, everything changes.

This past Saturday was a big moment for me. In the afternoon I was talking to a friend from church and I told her something I had felt for a few weeks but I hadn't said out loud just yet. I told her I felt like I was ready to let go and be released if it happened and that while I would be sad, I felt brave enough to move on and face my fears.

Talk about the Lord's timing...
A few hours later one of our friends who is in the bishopric came over. It was about 9pm at night and while he came over with a birthday gnome for Sam (love it) I knew there was more to it.
Oh, it was hard. He told me he had been dreading this all week and he had put it off until the last minute because he knew how sad I would be, but I was being released from my calling the next morning.
That was rough. I'm not sure who it sucked for more, him or me. It just sucked.
I'm really grateful to him for being so delicate about breaking the news to me. I'm  sure he was wondering if I'd cry or try to set him on fire. I really did NOT want to be released ever.

So, I cried.
A lot.
All night.
Then I woke up crying and I knew I just couldn't handle saying good bye to those kids without crying for hours so I got a sub for church went to my therapist instead.

But, I'm not rich so my therapist is my lawnmower. That sweet engine and I took apart that lawn and I cried a lot of tears for a few hours and my lawn looks amazing. That is the kind of therapy I enjoy.
I knew the moment I'd been released at church because I started getting texts and calls from people at church.
(I love you guys. And I'm sorry I played possum, but I needed to hide for a bit.I hate that I missed my last Sunday with my sweet kiddos but I would have sobbed the entire time and that would have been just pointless.)

We ended up running away for the rest of Sunday so I could hide and just deal.

Then Monday I moved from sad to mad/sad. I tried to spend the day in bed, but my mother decided that wasn't going to happen. She showed up with a giant file cabinet for me to reorganize all my piano music with.
If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for filing things and categorizing things. Yes, my house appears messy, but I actually have a lot of systems in place. Oh, and I married a Messy Marvin. Come to my house when he is out of town for work and my house is CLEAN.
But, I digress.

Anyhow, she showed up with this cabinet and it forced me to get out of bed and do work.
I needed to do that.
Plus, it looks all fancy now. Well, fancy for me. Behold:

Oooh, aaaah.

It is amazing how taking something that is a mess (like my piano music was) and putting it into order can make me sit down and really think about what is going on in my head.

A lot of different things came together and I realized something.
This all boils down to fear.

I've been afraid of being useless.
I've been afraid of this ward disliking me and being an outcast again.
I've been afraid that I just lucked into being good at my calling and I won't have that luck again.
I've been afraid that if I'm around adults I'll be too... ME for them.
I've been afraid that the change of routine will upset my little world that is already a tornado sometimes.
I've been afraid to let go of something that makes me happy and unwilling to see that maybe letting go and allowing change to happen will allow me to be even happier.

Remember my goal for the year?
Apparently God does.
I decided I was going to walk by faith and not by fear this year.
It has been challenging.

Two of my greatest fears are losing my consistency and not being able to regain balance (I may appear to thrive on chaos, but just like my cluttered house, there is an order to everything I'm doing and I love it that way) and my fear of being disliked. I know I'm a strong personality and I try to dial down the Kimber when I can see that I'm freaking someone out, but at the end of the day I'm just me. I really like me and I wish everyone else did too. I take is hard when I'm disliked. Really hard.

I've had nearly 3 years of happy in this new ward. Church has been such a wonderful place to be. My kids are loved, my spouse is loved and I'm pretty sure they love me too.
I don't want that to change.

But hanging on to what is comfortable isn't what life is about.

It is time for me to have faith and trust that I'll still be loved, I'll still be useful and I'll find another anchor.

It is also time for me to say all that out loud, so to speak (type?).

This is a very personal weakness of mine and I realize people I go to church with may read this. I realize there are people who don't like me who read my  blog still (quick question: why?) who may be amused by this. I realize that this is showing a huge chink in my Kimber armor.

I understand that some people could make fun of me because of this.
Okay. Go for it.
We all have fears. We all have weaknesses. Bad things happen to all of us and they affect us all differently.

Maybe if I share my fears it will help others feel brave too. Maybe if we all spent more time being accepting of our shortcomings we could find a way to accept other peoples' shortcomings too.

Maybe the world is more like my happy wonderful primary kids and all they want to do is love me back if I let them.
I won't know unless I am brave and I allow change.

So, I'm sharing this and hoping it won't be used to mock me but I'm accepting that if it is used in that way, that isn't my problem. It is the problem of whoever is dealing with even bigger insecurities than mine and I need to feel compassion for someone who has to belittle others in order to feel good. That would be rough.

It is going to be okay. I'm going to be okay. I'm going to move forward and I'll still be useful and church will still be good. I can do this.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for understanding and thanks for not teasing me too much for being a bit of a chicken over this.

Time to face my fears and kick their hineys.
(You can hold my hand if I get too scared. I'll let you.)


  1. This is exacty what my first thought was when i saw your facebook on sunday. ((hugs)) I totally understand where you are coming from and there is a part of me that is so glad that I am not the only one in this same situation. my family and I have struggled for many years trying to find our "place" in the church and we have really struggled. so far our current ward has been the most accepting to our "quirks" and some people even love us for them! My current calling (ward chorister) is the anchor that keeps us going to church. I dread the day that I am released.

  2. Kimber,

    Sorry for your sadness, but how cool to think your next calling might be just as cool and rewarding as this last. You have so MUCH to give!

    Gretchen (sorry to choose anonymous, but I do not have any of those other accounts...lol...!)

  3. Oh Kimber- you are SO loved! We are going to miss you so much in the primary! But your testimony of walking by faith has impacted me. I don't go to relief society things because I am scared of the same things you are. Plus, being in primary nobody really knows who I am- even though I have been in the ward since we were split from the second ward. Anyway, I am sure whatever is in store for you next is exactly where you need to be and that you will impact the lives of many just like you have the sweet little kids! You haven't just impacted them, you have impacted us teachers, too. I have never felt so welcome as I did working along side you in primary! Just know there are people everywhere rooting for you and always willing to be your friend :) and for those who aren't- who needs em'?
    -Kayliegh Landon

  4. That is awesome Kimber that you put some much of yourself into that calling. I had it too a few years back and I wish I'd put more effort into it. It was super fun though. Time for a new phase and stretching/growing and you'll do amazing!

  5. you can totally DO THIS!!! You are strong, amazing, and LOVED <3

    I will pray that your next calling will be a source of great satisfaction & growth as well. Maybe help you discover talents that you've overlooked in yourself?

    And thank you for writing this, it resonated with me very much, I'm sure it will with others.

  6. I have so much to say that I could write a book right here. I will try to keep it short. I too will be very real. If it offends you I do not apologize as I believe that sometimes the truth does offend. Here goes: When God created you he placed giftings inside of you, and gave you a destiny to fulfill. Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them! So, we are to walk according to that which he ordained. Not what man ordains. I know that is the way your church works but I hear a broken hearted lady who has had her heart torn because it was a "mans" decision that you were done. I am sorry that I totally don't agree with that. God NEVER CHANGES HIS MIND. If your gift is to mentor children and to teach them music then that is your calling from the CREATOR! Romans 11:29 For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
    So Kimber....I am asking you to ask the Lord what he wants of you. What did he design you to do besides believe in him? What "creates a fire" within you. What most makes you feel alive? THAT IS GOD and no man can know what that is. No man can decide in God's place because NO MAN WAS CREATED TO KNOW YOUR HEART LIKE HE DOES!Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
    When this life is over you will not stand before man. No matter what his title is. You will bow to Jesus. You will give an account only to him. He LOVES YOU AND EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT YOU!! I bet he cried with you that past few days.When you got the news....what did you believe about yourself? That same lie..."I am not worth anything..I am not liked or needed?" Ask Jesus if that is true? Let me know what tells you. I love everything about you....but I don't matter right now. Does it hurt the Lord that you worry about what others think? That you want to be accepted by the church people but don't realize that you already are accepted by the one who created the moon and the sun and the stars? In light of that...what is the opinion of man? BE FREE!!! You are so loved...Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
    You are so valuable and could it be that it is so important that you fulfill your true calling because the Savior has need of you? Think about it. I too was not valued in my church that I attended for 30 years. The Pastor was jealous of my anointing and calling and so he did everything he could to reduce it. God finally told me to leave. I did and God placed me in a church where I am celebrated. Just sayin.

  7. Kimber, thanks for writing this and putting yourself out there. Change is never comfortable, or easy. That is the point, right? We tear down a muscle in order to make it stronger, and in order to grow and experience ALL that life has to offer, we follow in faith the path that God designs for us. He knows how to use our strengths while turning our weaknesses into strengths. I know our leaders are inspired, and even when we follow those who are simply men trying their best, our faith is rewarded.
    Unrelated story but similar feelings - we moved to Utah this past weekend. I never thought I would be living here. It is not somewhere I have wanted to be, and I thought we would be in Idaho for a very long time. We bought our town-home nearly three years ago and were planning on staying there until the means or circumstances dictated otherwise. Then Cameron's field of work took a dive and he was laid off again and again. When he got a job in UT, we tried the distance thing to get us through, but in the end we knew what we had to do.
    It has been scary, discouraging, uncomfortable, not to mention a LOT of work, and ... exciting. I really really really miss my friends in Idaho Falls. I really really miss the home that we had lived in the longest, that I had really made my own. I miss the small-town feeling and security. I miss my ward, my callings. I have had a bad attitude and so I appreciate your post, which makes me realize that the blank slate that is our new area, ward, etc. can be fun. We have a chance to start with a mustard seed and really turn it into a tall, thriving tree.
    You are so talented at so many things; you are a hard worker with a desire to be successful and learn. I have no doubt that God knows this - he created you that way! - and will put you where you will learn and grow and your talents and traits will be put to good use.
    You are loved. Truly. Hugs, my friend!