Last week I got a text message with this plea Will you teach the Sunday School [Gospel Doctrine] lesson for me this week? I'm going to be out of town. Since I like the person that sent this request I quickly accepted. I accepted so fast in fact, that I didn't even bother to find out what the lesson was. Imagine then when my brain nearly exploded when I found out WHAT I'd be teaching: The Restoration of the Priesthood. I don't usually expound about personal topics on this little blog of mine, but this, this is something different. It's a delicate line, what to share, being honest and authentic, while still maintaining a modicum of privacy on this space, so you'll forgive me then if I expound on an all too personal experience just once.
As I began studying the text of the lesson I felt defeated. Male pronouns pervaded the text. Anxiety began coursing through my entire being. How could I get out of this? I sent a message to my friend expressing my concern. My concern that maybe I wasn't the right person for the job. She, of course, responded with compassion and conviction, mentioning that my fears only confirmed to her that I was the right person for the job. She may have used the word inspired. I wasn't so confident. This had nothing to do with teaching; I've never had difficulty with public speaking, rather I was trying to wrap my brain around the contents of the lesson, all while asking myself if I could possibly teach something that I wasn't entirely comfortable with. I continued to study and as I did I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Yentl. (Yes, Yentl. Rest assured, I plan on mentioning Yentl at least once a year. You've been warned.) The scene where Yentl (aka the immortal Barbara Streisand) is trying to get into a prestigious yeshiva (Jewish school) and is interviewed by the rabbi. When the two emerge from their closed-door meeting, the old rabbi remarks He asks a lot of questions, this one. To which Yentl apologizes, saying Sorry, I've been told that before. The wise rabbi, without hesitation replies, It's by their questions that we choose our students, not only by their answers.
I had a lot of questions. Questions for myself and questions for God. Questions that seemed appropriate to ask the class and questions that were best fought out in the confines of my heart. As I studied, I particularly appreciated chapter 8 from the Daughters in My Kingdom manual. I also took comfort in prayer. Lots of prayer. The truth was I had to trust the process. Trust that the class members wouldn't make crazy statements or flawed analogies. And trust myself that if they did, I'd be able to handle it. Mostly, though, I had to trust God. And trust that maybe my faith would be strengthened along the way.
In the morning I had GH give me a blessing. That helped. With it I knew things would turn out alright. The lesson started out a little rough, but I think that's always the case with a new instructor. Also, I had no idea when I was suppose to start. Bueller? A lot of people where still socializing after sacrament, but those in the classroom where starting to get antsy. I stepped forward and with a deep breathe began. As I started I set forth an outline for our time together, then told a story. Next I launched into the question/scripture reference portion of the lesson. Slowly people started to warm up and engage in the discussion. Every time someone raised their hand though, I prayed to know how I should respond. Fortunately, everyone stayed on topic. People shared their ideas and read the quotes I provided. Some also express genuine appreciation for the perspective I was taking. In the end, I'd like to say I would do this again. Perhaps. Mostly though, I now feel a stronger conviction for taking on hard tasks; for not backing down even in the face of uncertainty. That my voice matters. Furthermore, I believe varying opinions, especially in a congregation, are a good thing. Necessary, in fact. Lastly, I know what it means to still have unanswered questions, but knowing, in spite of this, God really is a God of miracles and peace.
Special thanks to this post for guiding my outline.