My dad and I stood in our driveway sharing a tearful good-bye in front of my car, in which I had crammed almost every item I owned. We felt especially saddened. Over the past summer we watched my mother struggle with, then ultimately pass away, from cancer. I dedicated my mother's grave only the week before. We finally hugged, then I wedged myself into my car and began the drive across the country to start my first year of law school in North Carolina.
As my car struggled to leave the Salt Lake Valley, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for my mom and the opportunities I had been given. With a renewed perspective on what really is important, I pondered my move and goals I had for myself. I knew that being single in a new area would tempt me to feel free from responsibility. I resolved to stay active and try to not let other activities take priority over my service and participation in the Church.
After four months I feel very content and happy with my move. My continued Church activity has given me great stability when my address, occupation and time zone have all changed.
Upon my arrival, I transferred my records to a student ward in Chapel Hill. The ward is attended by mostly students from the University of North Carolina, Duke University and other professionals working in the area. Many members come from around the country, but all share a common bond. Each small act of kindness, like an invitation to Sunday dinner or a genuine inquiry into my well being, has made me feel welcome.
Eager to become involved, I gladly accepted a calling in the elders quorum as the temporal and spiritual welfare committee chair. This calling has given me service opportunities within the Church which we hope to soon expand into the surrounding community. Although it is difficult for me to get up for some Sunday morning meetings before Church, it is a pleasure working with other elders for whom I have great respect.
Our home teaching list sometimes seems daunting, but I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet in the apartments and dorm rooms of individuals we are called to teach. I have discovered friendships that I would not have otherwise known to look for.
I have always understood the importance of the family unit within the Church, but equally I understand the many great opportunities and experiences available to me presently as a single member. The relationship I have with the Savior and the strength of my testimony are critical elements to my future progress. Besides developing wonderful interpersonal relationships, a student ward has helped me to continue to strengthen my relationship with the Savior and my testimony of the Church.
The example of other faithful members in my similar circumstances reinforces proper choices that I make. Recently the prophet came to visit North Carolina. I had other obligations during the night of his visit so I planned on not making the two hour drive to see him. However, because of the excitement of others to attend and remembering the commitment I made to myself, I decided to make arrangements to go. I remember the instruction he gave, but mostly I remember the strong witness of the Spirit I was given that he is a prophet. My obligations that would have prevented my attendance seem insignificant in retrospect. I am grateful for the example of others in helping me maintain perspective when I am unable to do so.
Time I spend in Church service and participation does trade off with some other extra curricular activities and opportunities. However, all of us are forced to make decisions about how we will spend our time and direct our efforts.
Each Sunday, while I am attending Church others are able to study in the law library or participate in other recreation. Other times I may be forced to choose between a study group or feeling the Spirit through attending institute and studying the Doctrine and Covenants. Rather than feeling a sense of panic that I may be falling behind or missing out, I feel a sense of balance and perspective that comes directly from my efforts to stay involved in the ward. Sometimes a conscious effort to adjust priorities can have significant results.
Jason Robertson is a member of the Durham 3rd Ward, Durham North Carolina Stake, where he serves in the elders quorum as temporal and spiritual welfare committee chair.