It’s been almost three months since I was released as bishop. I wanted to tell you how things are going. They are different than I expected.
One of the great blessings that has come my way is my new job. I am now working full-time on contract for the Church on a large and challenging project. The project is very rewarding. I am able to use many of the technical skills I have learned over the last 10 or 15 years in this job. I have never had a job where all these skills have come together in concert. I have also never had a job where the spirit of revelation has been so strong, where the potential of the work has the possibility of blessing so many lives. This job has also been a financial blessing as well.
I have been writing a lot more, too. I wrote several drafts of Young Adult novel last year, and I am now completing the third draft. I take the bus to and from Salt Lake every work day and this allows me to get a lot of writing done—over 50 pages per week the last two weeks. (It also lets me get in some good naps, one of my favorite things!) I have been able to work on my novel every day since January 1, except Sundays. I should be done with this draft at the end of the month. I have a couple readers lined up to review it. I wrote a novel about 20 years ago. I think of that one as my practice novel. I feel a lot more confident in this one. I am having great fun with it.
I also love my new calling in Primary. I teach a Valiant 9 class. Those kids and my companion teacher are such a blessing to me. I really look forward to being with them on Sundays. They are so darling. And they know so much about the Church. Their parents are doing a great job bringing them up in the light of the gospel, and that fills me with great hope.
My health is also improving. I tested my blood pressure the other day and it has gone down about 30 points from its peak. I am not kidding. I won’t go into the details, but I think my cortisol levels are much lower. I used to be the Cortisol Kid. Now life is rather, um, relaxing.
For example, I now get about one phone call a week on our home phone. When I was bishop, I used to sometimes get 20 calls a week. Also, I used to get about 20 to 30 emails a day, now I get an average of, maybe, less than five.
It seems like from the moment I was released, the intense trials that I had been entertaining for years were lifted. Most of the bishops I have known have been blessed both temporally and spiritually while they were bishops. Those blessings seemed to have been reserved for me until after I was released.
We all have trials of faith, no matter our station in life. Even if we don’t have a lot of faith, that faith will be tested so it can grow. At the gym they call it resistance training. I experienced a lot of resistance while I was a bishop.
Our Heavenly Father is very economical. He doesn’t waste any experience. He can turn any experience into a learning experience, unless we are too proud to let Him do that. Even then, even when we are proud or stubborn, we manage to learn, but the lessons come a little harder.
Trials are rewarding. It takes time to collect those rewards, but they are the pathway to learning and growth. I don’t think there is any other way to learn the things we must learn on this earth. We all need spiritual resistance training. But if you are like me, you will appreciate your trials more after you are done with them. I look back on my years as bishop and call them the “best five years of my life.” The trials were intense, but there were always spiritual blessings to match the temporal hardships.
There are some things I really miss about being bishop. The thing I miss the most is the connection I had with people in the ward. That is the thing I enjoyed the most—working with them and watching them work through their struggles and grow miraculously. A thing I thought would stop when I was released was the amount of time I thought about people, but I have found that I still continue to think about and pray for ward members everyday. I don’t have a strong connection with them any longer, but I still care for them. A lot. I am also grateful that they are in such good hands—our new bishop is doing a wonderful job.
Every day after work, I walk right by the Salt Lake Temple on my way to the bus stop. When I look up at it, I am filled with awe and gratitude. I often see brides and grooms on Temple Square, too, and this always lifts my spirits. I am deeply grateful for my time as bishop, but I am also very grateful for a time of rest.