Sunday, October 18, 2015

I Am Their Sounding Board

For the last two weeks, Roland has announced that he has so much lesson to cover that he expects he will run out of time before he runs out of material.  He teaches gospel doctrine or the adult Sunday School - which I have actually never taught before, and so I don't have a first hand account of teaching gospel doctrine. I have taught gospel principles before, and there was one time I substituted for a sister in Relief Society.

My lesson was based on two different talks - oh, as if I'd really have time to do both.  Well, I suppose I could have if I hadn't had the participation I'd been searching for.  Both talks were really good, but I had leaned more towards one than the other as one seemed more general on being an example and the other covered eternal marriage and forever families and I just didn't want to teach the forever family theme that I loathed hearing when I was single for so long.

Of course I would like all of my lessons to be inspired as I present them - that the Spirit may take over and not just words and emotions according to LaTiesha Cannon.  I did make room for the second talk if I needed to stretch out my lesson into the alloted time frame.  There are so many single sisters who attend the ward I last attended while in Utah,  I prayed for direction as I presented my lesson.  I taught the way I always do - by asking questions.

After sharing the first story from the first talk, I asked my first question. It was a personal one.  I had asked for someone to share a part of herself.  After a hushed silent fell upon the room, I shared an experience of my own, using my own dad as an example and what I had learned from him.  I became emotional of course - but it seemed to extend the invitation even further, for other sisters started to share their examples.  It was a beautiful lesson.

I had actually given it the very day I had been called to be the RS activities director - which is not a calling I felt comfortable about - but I had to accept it.  I felt like the outcome of my lesson was riding on my accepting the position.  If I accepted, I would be guided by the Spirit to give a lesson powerful enough to reach out to those who needed the lesson. If I didn't accept, I would stand like a fool, present both talks in a non-powerful way, run out of material long before running out of time and feel humiliated and not at all humble.

The subject of eternal marriage came up, and one of the sisters did complain about the topic and expressed the same feelings that I had had for so many years - and I understood what she was saying.  We became really good friends after that.

It's funny how two teachers can look at the same lesson and think, "How am I ever going to teach everything that is in this lesson?" or "What else am I going to use to fill up the time?"

I remember my mom saying that she had been called as a Releif Society teacher and felt quite out of place teaching other sisters who she felt were much stronger in the gospel than she. She said that when she gave her first lesson, she didn't ask questions or allow participation.  She said she had finished 20 minutes early.

Over the years, she learned about how to give a lesson and to prepare for extra time - or in the case of cultural refinement (that used to be a subject of lesson taught the forth Sunday of each month) she would use me as a sounding board and a plant in the audience to ask and answer questions if there was no other sister willing to participate.  It was okay when I was actually allowed to go to Relief Soiciety (seems like I always had a calling in primary) but the feedback was not the same when I was on my mission. 

Mom would detail her letters with what she had read and what had been outlined for her to teach.  By the time she'd get a letter back with my input, she had usually given the lesson already and was working on the next.

Mom persisted in doing her best to fulfill all of her callings.  Unfortunately she was always comparing her methods of teaching to others - which isn't right.  There's a reason that each of us is called to serve in whatever position - and sometimes only a certain individual can touch another in a way that no one else can.

After Roland and I were married, Lily and her husband started going back to church.  Lily loved when my mom taught the lesson.  Mom was taken aback to hear her say that.  Everyone loved it when Peggy taught - or so mom believed.  But Peggy often went over Lily's head.  Lily liked my mom's lessons better because they were easier for her to understand.  We all related to different people in different ways.  And that's a good thing.

Many people love and feel comfortable with Roland.  But I suppose there may be a few who feel intimidated with the way he presents himself - and that's okay.  Roland can reach certain people that others can't - and there will be people who are touched by others that Roland might not be unable to reach - or his teaching methods rather.  

It's not a contest to see who can get the most followers.  We're put in positions to be used for tools to assist others.  Not all tools work the same though they can have the same purpose in the final result of what is being built.

So now I'm Roland's sounding board.  I don't attend his classes as I am in the primary - again.  I have my own lesson to teach - which is very different from the one he gives.  And so is my audience.  I have one to two three-year-olds that I "try" to teach.

Today we had our primary program.  I enjoyed practicing for it for the last two weeks and not having to prepare a lesson that often feels like I've prepared for in vain.  But I know there is a purpose for this calling.  As of now, I don't ask of anyone to be my sounding board - not on lessons anyway. I have relied on Corey to be my sounding board in life.  Is that the same? 

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