Sometimes I love the evocative imagery of Mormon terms. For the last year I've served in the Young Women's with the 12-18 year old girls in our ward. I've loved this calling (that's what we Mormons call our jobs in the church).
I was the camp director (as I once so brilliantly explained it to my friends in Alabama, "It's a camp. For girls."), but I served as a counselor and sports director as well (I imparted all of my wisdom about ball sports, such as 'Duck!' and 'Run!'). I taught Sunday lessons, went to activities and fell in love with my calling. It was easy because the women and girls I served with were marvelous. A couple of the girls intimidated me, as I saw visions of what my little girls could become with their free agency, but most of them gave me courage and hope with their goodness, intelligence, and budding personalities. I love those girls.
But this week, they released me (That means it's someone else's turn to do the job). Release. I feel a sort of whooshing sort of windy noise with that word, as if something were holding on to me and suddenly let go. But release is such a powerful, ready-to-move-on word as well. It's what you feel when you achieve something, when the pressure relieves, when the baby's shoulder slides out :) Release is a freedom feeling too.
I am a little sad. I used to think my mom was strange when she cried when she was released. Now I know. Serving in a calling gives a different (not better, not worse, just different) kind of meaning and definition to your life than a job, or even motherhood.
I didn't cry until I was walking out to my car after the bishop told me they were extending a release to me (extending a release! Isn't that a great phrase? They're reaching out to let go. It seems perfect). Then, as Mike and I walked through the double doors of the church, a few tears squeezed out. There were so many things I had meant to do. Phone calls I should have made, girls I was just getting to know, lessons I was going to teach, personal progress I was going to do. Regret is often what makes our grief intense.
I'm not sure that I would even call my soft sadness about my release grief. My feeling is more like saying goodbye to a promising, not yet fully developed friend: "It was good while it lasted. I'll send you a Christmas card and maybe Facebook you." I will have sweet, edged-with-soft-blue- sadness moments when I think about being in the Young Women's. I love those girls, and that is the best memory I will have of this calling.