I grew up in the land of milk, honey and release time seminary. It’s probably a good thing, because I’m not much of a morning person. I hadn’t ever set foot in an early morning seminary class until just a few before Christmas Break (I know they call it winter break now, but it will always be Christmas break to me) when I subbed in my friend’s class. I should have used a stopwatch when I told Vaughn because I’m sure he laughed for five minutes straight. My biggest fear was not the teaching (though it was certainly the pride of the naive, I have a lot to learn about how to teach), or the teenagers, or the preparation, my biggest fear was the early mornings.
It turns out the class is appropriately named; early morning seminary is seriously early. Class starts at 6 AM sharp. I know, so many people keep a similar schedule, but my comparatively lazy mornings of waking up at 7:20, staying in my PJ’s while the kids get ready for school, sending them out the door, and sliding back into bed for my personal scripture study only to emerge when convenient, in no way prepared me for the shock of that 5 o’clock alarm every morning. Additionally, seminary itself is very physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting. I give it all I’ve got, which isn’t all that much, first thing in the morning which doesn’t leave me much to go on the rest of the day.
After my fourth day of subbing I was officially called as a seminary teacher for a different class. After just subbing I was absolutely exhausted (in my defense I was also deep into rehearsals for my December symphony concert so I wasn’t getting home until 11:30 at night) and doing it continuously for the foreseeable future was daunting. When I was set apart for this calling my blessing told me that I would be able to physically withstand the demands of the calling. That was sure a relief to hear! My biggest concern was addressed, and I would be okay!
My first week of teaching was exhausting. Five mornings of teaching, five lessons to prepare, a 5 hour seminary training meeting on Saturday, finishing off some tail ends of the two callings I was released from (Stake YW Sports Director and Primary Chorister), choir practice (because I’m still the choir pianist), two dance festival practices (because I’m also still a dance instructor for that), my brother’s wife had a baby so I watched their other three kids while they were at the hospital, I spoke at a fireside (seriously one of my favorite things to do), plus for some reason my family still wanted to be fed and the laundry didn’t take care of itself (rude). It was exhausting. All I could do was the bare minimum to get through the day.
The next week my family got sick. Coughs, fevers, headaches, congestion, even the stomach flu. Again, it was all I could do to accomplish the bare minimum.
(Hang on, I’m almost done whining and almost to the lessons learned.)
I was working so hard to serve to the best of my abilities, but I haven’t felt so exhausted since I had a newborn baby waking up 17,000 times a night. I am seriously in awe of people who hold jobs while serving in this calling. They must be super heroes. I did not feel like I was physically handling the demands of the calling well at all.
These past couple weeks have been a lot better. I’m still tired, but I feel like I’m coming out of the fog. It wasn’t until just the other day that I realized that the blessing I received to be able to physically be able to handle the demands of my calling was actively working in my life. I started thinking back over the last few weeks. Every day I had enough energy to do everything I needed to do, sure there was no extra energy for some of the things I wanted to do, but everything that was necessary got done. When my husband and boys were down for the count with whatever bug attacked our house, I didn’t even get a sniffle. I was 100% healthy the whole time. How many times have I not gotten sick when my kids have? One, it was last month. I was exhausted, but I had enough.
I had to learn to say no to a lot of things. I had to give up my symphony (both as a presidency member and as a musician). I had to say no to playing in a quintet. I had to say no to multiple paid accompanying gigs. (which are rare for me, so to get multiple in one month was really unusual.) I had to say no to activities with friends, errands that weren’t urgent, and blogging. Sometimes I would even initially say yes, but I would have to go back and say no because the prompting I continuously received was that I needed to be careful to not get distracted, I needed to focus on the things that matter most. I didn’t have enough energy for the extra things, but I always had enough for the vital things, the Lord’s things.
I was never promised that I wouldn’t be exhausted or that I would have an endless fountain of energy, I was only promised that I would be able to handle it.
I have enough. Enough to hug my kids at night. Enough to have Family Home Evening on Monday nights. Enough to help my kids with their homework. Enough to teach my boy piano lessons. Enough to listen to my other boy practice his cello. Enough to attend the temple. Enough to go to student of the month assemblies. Enough to do my personal scripture study. Enough to get good workouts in. Enough to play the piano for fun. Enough to enjoy conversations with my husband. Enough to help the missionaries. Enough to feed some friends. Enough to enjoy life. Enough to focus on what is really important. I am missing out on a lot, but nothing that matters.
Despite the work, I am already absolutely in love with early morning seminary. I love the kids to a ridiculous degree. I love the preparation for lessons. I have the opportunity to work with the most incredible people. I get to attend training meetings and firesides where the spirit and light is incredibly strong. I have never had a stronger confirmation that I am serving where I need to serve. I can feel my whole family being blessed. I can feel myself growing and improving. I can feel my desire to be obedient grow. I can feel my abilities to be righteous expand. The sacrifices required to teach early morning seminary are great, but the joy and the blessings are so incredible. I hope I get to serve here forever.