Seeking My Personal Ministry

Sister Bonnie Parkin and special guest (her husband) counsel to 'never suppress a generous thought'.

Both my kids and I have come down a devil of a cold.
Has it hit your house, yet? It seems to be an equal-opportunity virus; and very generous with its servings of body-wracking coughs, raw throats and my least favorite - perpetual and incessant congestion.

I swear, I can swing all the symptoms of a cold save the runny/stuffy/runny again nose.

Bill has managed to escape unscathed thus far - even with the all-nighters and the so-busy-I-forgot-to-eat schedule he's been keeping of late.

I pray this bug of doom doesn't notice him. I think that for whatever reason, if Bill gets this cold, it will become personal for me. War will be waged.


Bill had an errand that took him to Spanish Fork - a thing he had to do for Lizzie and her mission fund. The understanding was that I would stay home with the kids and we'd all take it easy while he did the deed.

But as he was getting ready to go - I was overcome with the overwhelming desire to get out of the house. I tried to think back...the last time I had left the house was...Thursday afternoon.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not a homebody.

Thursday Afternoon! I began to feel that unsettling. That dredging. That tiny panic tickle the back of my throat.

I looked at Bill. "I want to come with you." I softly said.

He looked at me, and I saw all the reasons that was an unproductive idea forming on his lips. Daphne was asleep. Nobody was dressed. He had an hour to get there before the Bishop might leave the ward house. It would just be a drive there and a drive back - nothing exciting, and nothing worth getting the kids all ready and loaded into the van for. But then he saw my eyes - recognized that this quiet request was more of a plea - and instead said, "Yeah - a Sunday drive might be fun. Daphne is probably close to waking up, anyway."

I jumped into motion - clamoring to clothe my pajama'd children, iron Bill's shirt (he wears his best when he's about the Lord's business), find tiny shoes, sock tiny feet, locate the magna-doodle pencil...

Bill was ever patient. I know he must have been thinking that the whole thing was far more work than it was worth - and that we were getting away so much later than he'd planned, he was in real danger of missing the Bishop - but he didn't say anything. Instead, he went to go start the car warming, and load Wyatt's car seat back into the van (the two boys had gone on a little adventure just the two of them the day before).

The drive down was - as suspected - just a drive. Enjoyable because of the rain and the conversation - but nothing terribly adventuresome or noteworthy. And when we got to the ward house, Bill ran in and I waited with the kids. He came out ten minutes later to inform me that the entire bishopric was in a meeting, and he'd have to wait until they were done so that he could hand what he came to give them to one of them in person.

The kids were fidgeting, borderline restless. We were in the danger zone, I knew. It was lunch time and close to nap time, and they were sitting in a parked car, waiting.

We listened to Music and the Spoken Word, and then an old BYU Devotional recording came on.  Sister Bonnie Parkin, former Relief Society President, spoke about Personal Ministry.

And it rocked my world.

She told the story about Elder Maxwell submitting his resignation to the Utah Board of Higher Education, telling them that he wished to focus on his Personal Ministry. The Board all assumed he meant his apostleship. But Elder Maxwell explained that his Personal Ministry - different than his apostleship - was to comfort fellow cancer patients.

Sister Parkin submitted that we all have a Personal Ministry - something we agreed to do before this Mortal life. Something we've forgotten, but that is still ours to discover and do.

She said that as we serve in our callings and live in love and obedience to the Lord, our unique Personal Ministry will unfold.

She goes on to discuss what a Personal Ministry might be. But my favorite was an example she gave of Christ's ministry. She said, "Much of the Savior’s ministering seemed almost incidental, happening while He was on His way to somewhere else—while He was doing something else. Chapter 9 of the Gospel of Matthew is an amazing illustration of that.

"Early in the chapter, the Savior disembarked a ship. A man with palsy was brought to Him. Jesus stopped and healed him. Then Jesus had a discussion with the Pharisees and a man interrupted, saying his daughter had died. So Jesus left to assist the man. On His way a woman touched His garment. Jesus healed her. He continued on His way and raised the girl from the dead. As He departed her home, two blind men followed Him, and He healed them. As those two men left him, other people came out to him with a man possessed, and He cast out the devil. All of this took place in one chapter! The Savior gave us the example of ministering as He went."

I just love that. Christ was on His way to do something else - something miraculous and huge! - but he still saw and seized opportunities to minister along the way.

Sister Parkin really got me thinking. I thought of some of the incredible people I look up to in this life - and I could see the shape of their own Personal Ministry. Aunt Shirley and Uncle Garry immediately came to mind. And I began to wonder - to really want to know - what did my personal ministry look like?

A calling - beyond any formal calling - that was mine alone to discover and to perform. A way that I can reach out and help others in a very individual, personal way. My Personal Ministry.

Something I can do along the way.

I'm glad I was so desperate to get out of the house. I'm glad the quick errand ended up taking longer. I'm glad the radio was on.

I'm glad for getting out of the house.

(Sister Parkin's Devotional can be read here.)


Tamsin said...

This isn't really a conversation for the comment section of a blog, but one day I will tell you about how I went to that devotional at BYU and asked myself about that same question. And received my answer right there in a campus auditorium.

Of course I wish you'd come to see us instead of sitting around in a parking lot, but I can basically guarantee that we wouldn't have inspired much in the way of divine contemplation yesterday afternoon :)

Diana Larson said...

Aunt Shirley and Uncle Garry are absolutely the perfect example. Just think of all the kids they helped on their way to do other things!

Annie said...

Wow, thanks for sharing. Your experience here had me in tears. I've been trying to figure this out, but hadn't thought about it as my "personal ministry".

I'm here via Diapers and Divinity, and it's nice to meetcha!