(OK, to clear up any confusion with my non-LDS readers.....a ward is another name for my LDS church congregation that I attend.)
I have been a member of my church my entire life. I was born into it, baptized into it, served many callings in many capacities. I've walked away from it.... and come back. And I've struggled, epsecially since getting married to remain active. I've been in wards where the members were indifferent, the leaders were cold and the feeling was not one that embraced what I feel that the church should be. I've had bishops I've loved, and more that I haven't -- and I've NEVER felt comfortable in Relief Society. I've always embraced callings that would take me out of Relief Society on Sundays because I've just never felt the kinship and sisterhood that I imagine this group is supposed to be.
All that changed when I moved to Texas. I have been blessed beyond measure to have found myself in this ward. From the first week we moved here, I had neighbors from the church at my home before I even knew that people knew we were moving in. (Thank you, Dee Adams) My children have been invited into primary with open arms.....even when months go by that my inactive self takes over and my kids miss weeks of Sunday School at a time. My visiting teachers have not missed a month in 4 years. Even if we can't physically get a face to face connection each month, I know I can expect a phone call, email or letter in my mailbox so that I know I am still thought about. Never in my life have I been so impressed with a group of sisters. For the first time in the almost 14 yrs I've been attending relief society, I feel at ease. I feel like these women really care about me as a person, as a fellow daughter of God. I don't get made to feel like a pariah if I only come to church once every six months. I am still invited in and welcomed as if I'd never been gone. I have been invited by other mothers to come share time with them and their kids, and I really, truly feel that this is the place I'm supposed to be. This is the ONE ward that is going to help me fully embrace getting totally back into church. This is the ward that has helped me to fill the void that I have felt about the church for so many years. I don't know how to put into words the gratitude I feel toward you all (I know some of you read here....so this is a shout out to you) There are a few individuals I want to especially thank just because you have meant so much to me since moving here: Sally, Windy, Allie, Mindy, and Maren.....without your love and support I don't know that I would have the courage to still muddle my way through and at least make the attempts that I have. Few as they have been.....I have a feeling that it's only going to get better from here.