#ContactForm1{ display: none !important; }

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Last Sunday as Bishop

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?



7 comments:

Lewis said...

Wow, I don't know what to say. You are an amazing man Bishop. It was truly my priveledge to serve with you for almost the whole time that you served as Bishop. I have to admit that I was sad to be released because I feel like I grew so much while serving with you. I have so many memories that I will always cherish. Thank you for your dedicated service over the past several years. You are a true example of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Love,
Lewis

P.S. - Happy belated birthday!! Is this your 25th birthday?

M said...

I missed it! I was out of town! Bishop, let me say that you are the most amazing bishop we have ever had. Your caring and love has made our family stronger, and my husband has been so impressed by your sincere desire to help all who will come unto Christ progress. We love your family and appreciate the sacrifices you have all made. Much love, The Stevens

Cristi said...

I will miss you as bishop, but will love you being my pew buddy. :-)

JeJim said...

You and Your family will be forever blessed for your service to those around you! Glad we had the opportunity to have you for a steward and a neighbor. WE LOVE YOU!

Colleen Cloward said...

Bishop Fitzgerald, Your an awesome, spiritual giant I am so glad I had the privledge to be in your ward and felt of your love and wisdom! I have loved reading your bishop blog! I will never forget you and the blessings you brought into my life because Father blessed me by having our paths cross, THANK YOU!! May Father bless You and your Family!
Love,
Colleen

Jane Mills-Bishop said...

I don't know you Bishop but that clip was so tender I just loved it.

Sis Jane Mills-Bishop
Aberdeen Ward Scotland

dailyabundance said...

Tears again. Not sure if it's empathy for you or jealousy for us. :-)