I was impressed with the comments of Sister Susan Curtis on Relief Society (see October13th entry “The Blessings of Relief Society: All I ever really needed toknow I learned in Relief Society”. If you haven’t read it you should take the time to do so. When I first read it, my memory leaped back 43 years, when I was first called to serve as a Bishop. When I was called I felt it important to review some of the callings in the ward. Some individuals had been serving for years in the same positions, and there were many others who would benefit by a new assignment. The changing of a Bishopric provides an opportune time to seriously think about how the ward, and individuals, might be blessed anew by making some changes.
The Bishopric was new and wanted to make certain that any changes made would be in the best interest of the ward and for the individual members of the ward. We approached this task prayerfully. We didn’t want to disappoint or discourage anyone, but felt that there could be exciting new growth opportunities for many.
As we followed our impressions the Holy Spirit spoke, and the message and direction came very clear to me, that the calling of a new Relief Society President in our ward was, bar none, the most important of any changes we were contemplating. There would be other changes coming, but the first and most important calling at that time was selecting the Relief Society President. It was unmistakably clear to me that “as the Relief Society went, so went the ward.” Just as the mother in the home brings a perspective and sensitivity to the home, so does the Relief Society do for the ward. I felt keenly the Relief Society President, along with those who would be called through her inspiration, would be the heart and the soul of the ward. If things were right in the Relief Society, many challenges within the ward, and within many families, could be avoided. This is what happened.
A few years later I was called as a Stake President to preside over a stake consisting of married students. Again I had exactly this same impression. The most important calling was selecting a good sister who would teach, and be a role model, for these eager young wives and mothers. I felt the Relief Society to be the instrument to provide the heart and the stability in these relatively new families. We searched valley wide and it became clear when the appropriate sister came to our mind. Fortunate for us she was made available by a responsive stake president who felt the same as we did, and could see that she was the one needed in this assignment.
On a more personal note, seven of our first nine years of marriage were spent as students. By the time I finished my graduate studies “trek” we had four of our six children. I don’t ever recall that I let my studies, or graduate school commitments, interfere with my wife attending Relief Society. In fact I could always tell when it was time for her to “be off” to Relief Society. In our ward, where a large number of families were graduate student families, a weekly meeting for the Relief Society was held on a week-day night. I would often say something like “well, I can tell that it must be time for you to go to Relief Society.” My wife would come home thrilled with the opportunity of being with her sisters in the Gospel, receiving instruction, and being uplifted and rejuvenated from just being there. She was ready for another challenging week of demanding children, graduate student poverty, and an often stressed out graduate student husband. What a blessing Relief Society was for me, our children, and for her.
Thanks Susan for the reminder of the blessings which come to a family from Relief Society. I hope that my observations about the importance of Relief Society will be a reminder to Priesthood holders to support and encourage their companions to attend Relief Society and attendant functions. And to the good sisters, if my personal experience is worth anything, you will experience many returns by embracing the wonderful sisterhood of the Relief Society.
By: John R. Cragun