by Kari Diane Pike
I'll probably get booed for saying this, but I love a good planning meeting. Especially if it’s for Relief Society. Not only do I get a break from the routine at home, but I get to talk to other women - wives, mothers, sisters, and friends. There's bound to be laughter, perhaps a few tears, and definitely a yummy treat.
I don’t remember details about this one particular planning meeting - except for one thing. It got hijacked. At least that's the perspective I drove away with.
When Sister Jones first showed up at the meeting, I didn’t give it a second thought. Rachel served in the Cub Scout program and I assumed she came to give us details about an upcoming Scouting event. I didn’t anticipate Rachel taking over the entire planning session. I mean, seriously. It happened so fast. When all was said and done, I walked out to my car, shaking my head and asking myself: What just happened? Who does she think she is anyway? She’s not even on the Relief Society board. Who gave her the authority to just take over like that and tell us what to do and how to do it?
While I waited for the red light to change, I gripped the steering wheel so tight I imagined I could bend it like the Hulk does in those cartoons. I tapped my foot on the gas pedal, prepared to stomp on it. My thoughts and my heart rate escalated as I speculated on how many other meetings that woman thought she could commandeer. The urge to scream exploded up from my chest. I don't remember if I actually screamed out loud, but I do remember the total silence and the quiet rebuke that followed.
Shame on you. It’s not like you to harbor these kind of thoughts. You don’t get offended. You’re wrong.
You don't understand. You need to repent. You need to let this go and be forgiving.
The truth of those words stung. I was wrong. It wasn't like me to harbor these ill feelings. I did need to be more understanding. As soon as I got home, the anguish I felt sent me straight to my bedside to kneel in prayer. I asked Heavenly Father to forgive me for being so judgmental. I asked Him to take away my feelings of jealousy and anger and to help me not feel offended. I pleaded for relief from the pangs of guilt that tore at my heart.
When I woke up the next morning, feelings of resentment and guilt still clouded my mind. Really? Why couldn’t I let it go?
It’s not that easy. This is going to take more than words. You need to be humble. This requires true repentance, fasting, and sincere prayer.
Okay. I’ll fast about it Sunday.
Don’t wait. This needs to be taken care of today.
I fell to my knees and began my fast with a long conversation with Heavenly Father. I asked Him to help me understand Sister Jones. I prayed for the ability to see her through the Savior’s eyes and love her as He loves her.
Then I did what mom’s do. I got busy. I was standing in front of the stove stirring the soup I had prepared for dinner, when I felt a warm sense of peace wash over me. A picture of Rachel's face came to my mind and memories of her many acts of service to me, my neighbors, and ward members flashed by.
This is My daughter. She loves Me and wants nothing more than to return to live in My presence. And she loves you and everyone else so much she would do anything to bring you along…even if she has to drag you!
In an instant, the specifics of why I got so angry evaporated from my mind. Thoughts about Sister Jones brought a recognition of how much I loved her and how grateful I was for her friendship. I could see her special gifts and I wanted to learn more from her.
Two days later, right after church services, our new bishop called me into his office. He asked if I would accept a calling as the ward music chairman. I accepted and looked forward to that new challenge. I rejoiced knowing that I felt right with the Lord and could ask for His Spirit to guide me.
Imagine my surprise when Bishop James called me at home, less than forty-eight hours later.
“Sister Pike, may I please come see you? I have something I need to discuss.”
“Of course. When would you like to come over?”
“Would right now be okay?” His voice cracked and he paused before speaking again. “I really need to talk to you.”
“Um. Sure. Come on over.” Deep in thought, I continued to hold the phone to my ear after Bishop James hung up. The incessant beeping of the disconnect signal brought me out of my reverie. I turned down the stove, pulled off my apron and dashed into the front room to sound the "twenty-one-pick-up" alarm.
When the doorbell rang, I asked the older kids to entertain the younger ones in their rooms. I opened the door and Bishop James nodded a quiet hello as he shook my hand. I invited him to sit down. He made idle chatter for a minute before growing quiet again. He clasped his hands between his knees and stared at the carpet for a few moments. He cleared his throat a couple of times before he looked up at me. His eyes glistened with unshed tears.
“Sister Pike. I made a mistake. Sunday, I issued you a calling to be the ward music chairman, but I was wrong. The Lord needs you somewhere else. I’m so sorry.” He took a deep breath and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped together. “We’ve called a new Primary president. She feels very strongly, and I agree, that the Lord wants you to serve with her as one of her counselors. Sister Pike, I hope you are not disappointed. I feel the Lord’s hand in this. The new Primary president is Rachel Jones. I know that you will be a great help to her. She is a great lady.”
My entire body tingled as the Spirit bore witness to the truth of Bishop James’s words. He had no knowledge of my wrestle with the Lord just a few days before. That had been between me and the Lord and no one else. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks. I accepted the calling with gratitude for a loving and patient Heavenly Father who sent His Spirit to prepare my heart and who sent His Son to make my repentance and mighty change of heart possible. The Lord truly prepares those whom He calls.
Fast forward about 19 years: The bishop of our new ward here in Gilbert showed up at the front door two weeks ago. He asked if he could visit with me for a minute.
"Sister Pike, when you got up to bear your testimony today, the Spirit told me that you were the person who could fill the position I was praying about. Would you accept the Lord's calling as the ward choir director? I don't even know if you have any music experience, but the prompting was so strong, I had to come over and ask."
Of course, I said yes!