Now pretend for a second that I didn't just post the most depressing post of my entire blog and switch gears to my Thankful Post #3.
I am thankful for Bishops. Throughout my lifetime, I have had some of the best bishops that have been called to serve.
When I was baptized, I was interviewed by Bishop Patrick. He was a great friend of my dad and my uncle and was one of the funniest people I knew. He was the * ONLY * person that I allowed to call me Shelli Belly. And he did so. He gave me my first, and only, taste of venison. His wife introduced me to snickerdoodles. But more, I remember siting in his office for my baptismal interview and him asking me about Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ and me being able to tell him that I had a testimony at that young of an age. And him telling me that he knew that I did and how he was very proud of me.
Growing up, Bishop Zelnick gave me my first temple recommend. He called me in just to make sure I was doing OK during a time when I was suffering from depression. He was wise and educated and encouraged me to get my degree at Edison and then BYU. He called me Daughter #5, and I spent my high school years using his home as my "summer home."
And then my dad was made my bishop. And I learned the inner workings of how the church is run. And I understood the constraints that a bishop goes through with balancing work, church and family. And I saw personally how the Spirit can influence someone and how the Lord blesses the families of His servants.Can I just say how much I enjoyed my dad being my bishop? He did my tithing settlement, gave me callings - sometimes officially and sometimes not so much - I could talk to him "as my bishop" and then switch it up and get counsel from my dad. He even wrote out my temple recommend before I left for college, and I still have that because I love that he could do that for me.
When I moved out to BYU, I was nervous and scared. I lived with girls who I at first befriended, and then we did * NOT * get along. They didn't like the way I worked graveyard shifts and they questioned my choice of friends. I picked up a swearing habit, and because of my work schedule, I didn't always make it to church on Sunday mornings. But Bishop Freestone directed me to Moses 5:10 "Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God." And he taught me that Heavenly Father is so above disappointment, that when we screw up, He only feels compassion for us. And we learn and strive to do better.
At the Branbury, I served with Bishop Zenger. Who was absolutely fantastic. At the time, I felt that no man loved a ward more than he loved us. I called him in the middle of the night a couple of times worried about my sister and he answered and talked me through it. He was funny and kind and the ward loved him as much as he loved us.
After that, I went through a series of Bishops that did not know who I was. In fact, on such bishop introduced himself to me no less than five times as if we had not met.
And then I moved into the Omni, and I worked with Bishop Hardman. And unfortunately, he was released. Bishop Marchbanks was put in, and he made the ward a fun, unified group of individuals. To the point where the friendships that I made in the Omni have long withstood the test of time and moving. No other ward was as close-knit as the Omni.
After the Omni, came Bishop Robinson. And surely he loved us more than any bishop... I really did love Bishop Robinson. He was so great and fun and... exactly what that ward needed.
At Single Tree, I tried my best to distance myself from the ward. I knew I wouldn't be there long, but Bishop Cummings wouldn't allow that. I had a calling that terrified me. And he really advocated reading the Book of Mormon. I started reading and studying better than I had in previous wards and I learned the strength and power that comes from reading daily.
And finally, there is Bishop Allen. Who called me into his office based off a prompting, and at the end gave me a hug. Which... I don't think he understands how desperately I needed that hug.
Bishops are called of God and inspired men. They are men... which means that they aren't perfect. But I do believe that God calls the right men for each ward. I'm so grateful for the relationships I've had with my bishops over the years and for the guidance they've given me and the way they have lived their lives by example.
President Hinckley gave a talk about Bishops and it is really good and embodies more of what I wanted to say in this post. Read it here: LDS.org - Liahona Article - The Shepherds of Israel