This is not a negative article. This is not a critical article. This article reflects my attempt to grapple with the real and the ideal when it comes to callings in the Church.
For 29 months I have taught the exact same age group in Primary—4-year-olds who are still young in learning how to sit through hour-long classes and understanding appropriate social behaviors. For all 29 of those months, I have prayed to love my calling. I have prayed to feel connected to my ward. I have prayed for a change of heart.
After hundreds of prayers, I still come home from church every week exhausted. I still know few people in my ward over four feet tall. And I still hate my calling.
As a woman serving in Primary, I've wrestled through the gamut of guilt and emotions associated with this fact. I've heard the women called to Primary after me and released before me crying during testimony meeting, testifying that their calling was the best in the world and sharing how it changed their life. I've had strangers in my ward respond when they learn I'm in Primary, "Oh, you are so lucky. Isn't Primary the best? I love the simplicity and getting back to the basics." I've read countless talks about the eternal value of Primary to shape lives.
And with each of these passing comments or inspiring quotes, my wounds deepened and I wondered, "What is wrong with me? Am I broken? Why can't I find joy in this? Is there something inherently miswired in my brain? Is it horrible that, as a Mormon woman, I do not want to be around kids all Sunday and instead crave adult conversations, deep gospel discussions, and new friendships? Am I failing God's test for me? Is that why I still have this calling?"
It wasn't until this past Sunday that it suddenly dawned on me—it does not matter that I dislike my church calling. God wasn't answering my prayer the way I wanted because, in the eternal scheme of things, this will not have a lasting impact.
But here's what does matter: I was praying to Heavenly Father every single day, relying on Him for what I lacked. I loved and prayed for the children in my class individually, even if they intimidated me as a group, and I looked for thoughtful ways to serve them or help them feel loved and look forward to church. Even though it exhausted me, I was willing to get up and go to church every single week and try my hardest, which is probably why it was so draining. I was studying the Primary lessons each week and keeping a prayer in my heart as I searched for ways to help the lessons make sense to 4-year-old minds. I was learning at every turn how to practice more patience, relate to those different from me, and teach children.
The only thing I gained from my fixation on learning to love my calling was an added sense of guilt and a feeling that I was not good enough.
But I've discovered it doesn't matter whether or not I like the calling I hold in the Church or if I feel like I am good at it. Instead, it matters that I am striving to serve others, whether I enjoy it or not. It matters that I am trying to be more selfless and aline my will with God's. It matters that I am willing, week in and week out, to continue to teach, learn, and grow. It matters that I try.
I haven't given up on finding joy and learning to love my calling, but I no longer set unrealistic expectations for myself. I no longer see myself as less than, subpar, or falling short for being who I am—which is human. I now recognize that this calling might be a bigger sacrifice for me than it is for other ward members and, because of that, I will receive blessings no one else can receive. I now embrace my differences because they will allow me to teach and love these kids like no other Primary teacher can.