Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday Stagefright = Delusions of Grandeur

Yesterday I taught the first lesson in Relief Society out of the Gospel Principles manual. When I heard that we would be teaching from this book for two years, I was delighted. Getting back to basics always seems like a good thing to me, and I have enjoyed consulting the book myself over the years to clarify or add to my knowledge of doctrine. In fact, when my son-in-law was baptized a member of the Church, the first gift I gave him was a copy of Gospel Principles.

That is why I was so surprised when this lesson turned out to be the hardest one I've ever prepared. Ever. Oh, not because it was so short I could have read the entire thing aloud in less than five minutes, though that did make for a lot more research and organization on my part. (Previous manuals have been loaded with information to the extent that I would generally spend the whole month trying to pare the lesson down rather than enlarge upon it.) But I'm fine with research and organization, so that really wasn't the issue. What evoked my anxiety in getting this lesson ready for primetime was the relative lack of guidance, coupled with the mind boggling significance of the subject matter. What's worse, I was presenting the first lesson, and if I didn't do it justice, my Relief Society sisters might start the year out feeling less than enthused about the new course.

As sometimes happens, I had delusions of grandeur. The lesson went wonderfully, and I think it's fair to say that I had very little to do with that. The spirit in the room was strong and loving as we discussed a subject dear to every woman in attendance...Our Heavenly Father. In fact, my reason for being so worried escapes me now, or at least it did until I got home and made the mistake of reading the title of my next lesson: The Creation. It was just as short as yesterday's, and I'm feeling anxious all over again!

But all will be well. Why? Because it's not about me. With time and experience, I'll learn to trust that my efforts will be magnified and have faith that, if I do my part, the Lord will do His. Hearts cannot help but be touched as we explore the foundational beliefs and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And again, I will probably have very little to do with it.

The following quote by Brigham Young is one that I added to the lesson. He said these sweet words to a group of Sunday School children assembled in the tabernacle on July 24, 1877: "Our Father in Heaven has eyes to see, and His eyes are upon all the works of His hands; He has ears, which are open to hear the prayers of little children, and He loves you, and knows you, for you are all HIs offspring; and His knowledge of you is so minute that, to use the language of the ancients, not a hair of your head falls to the ground unnoticed. This is the kind of God we worship."

I closed, as is my custom, with a poem:

Some of Thy children think of Thee
in terms that make no sense to me:
“…as large as life itself, yet small,
with no body or parts at all.”

Others claim Thou art as naught––
a figment of man’s fear and thought,
a panacea for the weak
to conjure up the peace they seek.

But I have felt within my soul
Thy perfect love, and I am whole
because Thou callest me by name
and whisperest of whence I came.

In Christ, and by the Spirit’s power,
Thou livest with me every hour.
This gift, dear Father, helps me see
Thy glory and my destiny:

To fill the measure of my birth,
To walk with honor on the earth,
To find my place eternally,
As Thy child, to become like Thee.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

As Elder Holland said in his beautiful conference talk, The Grandeur of God, "How easy to love someone who so singularly loves you!"


Brad said...

Our lesson yesterday was the same, as everywhere Church-wide. And our teacher did a phenomenal job.
Next week--my turn. I'm stressed, as well. These lessons, for some reason, send fear through me. Not because of my inexperience, but for the lack of information in the manual.
Here's to a stressful but productive week.
Got any insight into "Our Heavenly Family"?

jen said...

And that was Jen. I always forget to sign out of Brad's account first!

Jill said...

Thank you. I am in YWs now so it's been awhile since I have heard a RS lesson. I hope you share lessons to come. I especially like Elder Bednar's quote. I wish I could have been there. Something tells me you are an excellent teacher, one who listens to the spirit.

Momza said...

lovely! I wish you were in our ward!

Nikia, May and da kids said...

You have brightened my morning Sue. I am glad that you taught the RS lesson and relied on the Spirit. Your words move me every time. I love that I found your blog = )

I have been given the task of visiting many widowed and disabled sisters (by my husband who is a ward missionary leader - no more missionaries in our ward for a while) and I am at a loss as I am meeting ALL of them for the first time. I let the Spirit take over and my thoughts and words come easy and comfort those sisters and then I get in my car and cry tears of joy that something so powerful takes over and I am faithful enough to let it.

I look to your blog for words that inspire. I have always been good with relating to kids, the Youth and even Young Adults. I found many LDS women that blog and I finally started to understand ways to connect with other sisters. Thank you for being one of those women that inspire me to understand things greater than just being strong as an individual.


Jess said...

I didn't realize just how much I have missed R.S. I was in primary for 3 years and now am in Y.W. I'm sure you are as marvelous a teacher on Sundays as you are in blog world, I've learned much from you.

Karen said...

Great poem!! As always it just grabs me by the heart and I feel the power of words.

Our lesson yesterday was wonderful as well. The Spirit in the room testified of truth. I love it.

KC Mom said...

That indeed is the kind of God we worship. It's nice to be reminded from time to time, how much we are loved. :)

RobinfromCA said...

Our lesson was terrific yesterday as well. I admit, when I first saw the manual and how little there was to each lesson but how broad and important the scope of each subject, I worried for the poor teachers who had to teach these. But, yesterday, we had the best discussion going. Our teacher brought in some beautiful quotes (as you did) and used the questions in the lesson and it felt more like an intimate discussion guided by the spirit. Your poem is beautiful, as always.

Darlene said...

How I would have loved being in your class yesterday. As it happens, I didn't even get to attend my own. I can only manage Relief Society once a month (because my old muscles, joints and bones will only allow me an hour to sit at a time) I go to Sacrment Meeting most of the time. It sounds like most of the lessons were great! It's amazing what the Spirit can do. Sometimes a lesson takes a direction all on its own. It seems like we hardly ever get all of the message covered what with opening exercises, singing etc. Maybe for once everything was covered. At any rate, I'm happy that yours went well. (Don't they always?)

I too, loved the poem. I am so happy that you have been able to use this great talent you have for so much good. I love and appreciate all that you do and are.

Amy said...

Oh Sue! That was so beautiful! I am in the yw which I absolutely adore, but sometimes I long for the lessons of RS or Sunday School. Thank you so much for your insights. How I wish I could have attended your lesson. But your poem!
"But I have felt within my soul
Thy perfect love, and I am whole
because Thou callest me by name
and whisperest of whence I came."
That stanza sent a thrill through my heart. How true it is and what a wonderful reminder you have given me! Thank you.

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