Last Sunday was my birthday. I started out the day with a big bowl of Chocolate Cheerios at 6:15 in the morning. I needed it to get me through my last full Sunday as bishop.
Our stake president visited our sacrament service to announce that I will be released as bishop this coming Sunday, November 21. It is not a day I have been looking forward to.
My very thoughtful wife made the day special and memorable for me. When I got to our early bishopric meeting, I found the bishop’s office decorated with streamers and balloons. Party hats and party favors in Elmo bags were on the table. There were cinnamon rolls and orange juice. Who can be a glum chum when you can’t stop laughing?
Over the last five years, I have had many say to me, “I would never want to be a bishop” or “I hope my husband is never a bishop.” I am always sorry to hear remarks like these because it underscores a big misunderstanding. People don’t realize that a bishop is carried by angels every day. Literally. I have been blessed and guided and instructed and upheld every day that I have been a bishop, in a miraculous way. More so than when I was on my mission, more than at any time in my life.
Why wouldn’t someone want to experience that? Fear. And fear is always the result of some sort of misunderstanding or allowing the natural man to overthrow the spiritual.
Yes, any determined dedication to the Lord’s will and work will invite trials—opposition that will test our mettle, our determination to endure and remain steady. But how else can we learn what we need to learn? How else can we grow? How else can we fulfill our mission on earth? These things would be impossible without trials and tests alongside of them.
The thing I will miss the most is working with people and watching them make changes in their lives. Watching them overcome old habits, overthrow old monsters, forgive others, forgive themselves, walk away from sin, choose faith, kneel at the feet of Jesus Christ, humble themselves, choose to love themselves. Watching miracles happen.
It was amazing to be there at the crossroads, to witness births, baby blessings, baptisms, ordinations, missions, life-changing callings, repentance, reconciliations, even death. No work possibly could be more interesting, more meaningful or more fulfilling.
How do you walk away from this privilege without feeling devastated? I don’t know.
One thing that is making it easier is the love and care of my wife. I don’t think anyone understands what an incredible support she is to me. She worked so hard to make my day special on Sunday, and she succeeded in making a day that could have been a total downer into nothing short of a blast. I must admit that, after sitting on the stand for over six years (one year as a counselor, five as a bishop), I am really looking forward to sitting next to my wife and daughter.
When all is said and done, it all comes back to family—spouse, children, grandchildren. Their love means everything to me. Their steady support always lifts me higher, no matter what a day brings. With their help, I know I am going to make it through this. Let me close with a bit of fun that one of my grandsons gave us on Sunday night. Just try not to laugh. Don’t you think that everything is going to be okay?