A few weeks ago, I received a voicemail from a representative in my stake asking if I would substitute teach seminary during the first week of November. I can't tell you what my first thought was, because, honestly, there were a few competing ones. On the one hand, being a seminary teacher is my dream calling. I love working with the youth and I love studying and teaching the Gospel. On the other hand, it's November, and as you've heard ad nauseam, it's NaNoWriMo. And for the first time in my life, I'm participating in it and bent on finishing. And on the, um, third hand? It's 6 AM seminary. Which means getting up in the 5's, something I vowed never to do again once I quit working unless it involved a cute, screaming little munchkin.
So I was torn. I knew I wanted to teach seminary, but I also knew that I wanted to devote all of my spare time to writing for the month of November. During that few seconds of hesitation (that's really all it was, thankfully), this line from the hymn, "Praise to the Man," came into my head: "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." I knew that the sacrifice I would make if I committed to teaching seminary would be minimal; it wouldn't compare to the countless, important sacrifices that people make every day as they live lives that are far more challenging than my current state. But I knew, too, that Heavenly Father isn't concerned with our comparative obedience and sacrifices. The little things count to him.
I returned that voicemail quickly, telling the representative that I would be happy to teach seminary. Then I prayed to the Lord that I would find the right balance between studying and preparing for lessons and developing my writing talent through the NaNo challenge. I felt great at the end of that prayer, like Heavenly Father was only too happy to help me find that balance if I would let him.
I've only taught a few days so far as I write this post, but I'm already thrilled with the balance. I've felt excited each of the mornings I've taught seminary so far, and I've been very happy with how receptive the kids have been to the Spirit and to the lessons. I've managed to keep up on my NaNo writing and, thanks to a writer's retreat Friday night and all day Saturday with the lovely and talented Gina Denny, I'm actually a few thousand words ahead of my goal! So far, I've had a clear vision of where I should go next, and I pray every day for continued help from the Lord.
I don't know what will happen with this novel, but I know that Heavenly Father is blessing me in ways that I wouldn't have deserved had I turned down the call to serve in this manner. Sacrificing writing time for service time has been a pleasure and a blessing, and I hope that I can remember this next time I'm asked to serve, however great or small the request.
“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”
– D.L. Moody