Bitter or Better

*If you haven’t read the two posts before this, now’s the time.


After spending most of the day lamenting to My People about the harsh side effects of holding a calling and working with women in general, I have had a moment of clarity. It came while I was wiping Junie’s bum. 

This is the thing. Right or wrong, these things happen for a reason. I am so grateful for all your comments, but especially Pat’s. Pat reminded me that forgiveness is a skill and we either use it or lose it.

In all honesty, if I had to choose an exercise in forgiveness, this would be it. No one stole my house or kicked my kid, I still have food to eat and friends who use Verizon to talk to. I’m blessed, it can’t be denied. 

We all have room to improve, and there is no doubt in my mind that while her methods were insensitive and not particularly well thought out, I could certainly be a better teacher. Besides, like my mother reminds me, we’ve all done something like this to someone at one time or another. And if you haven’t, I promise that you someday will. 

While I was changing Junie’s diaper this evening, I was internally monologuing about the bitterness this situation has brought with it. In one of my rare moments of silence (because I seriously don’t stop EVER), I heard the still small voice tell me, clear as a bell, “Look, you have a choice here. You can be bitter, or you can be better. Which one is it?” 

So I choose to be better. To be better at teaching, to be better at forgiving, to be slower to take offense and more careful with my own communication methods (because Heaven forbid I ever do this to anyone). 

And to my loyal friends who aren’t ready to forgive her on my behalf, and have friends in low places (Tanya), I’ll be happy to pass her address on to your sources. But you didn’t get it from me.


  1. That Pat is a wise one. I think it is about making choices, no matter how hard they are.

  2. Is this suppose to be bitter or not? I really can’t tell. Primary lesson 2 weeks ago was on Forgiveness…I can give you the condensed version if you want and a fun coloring page too 🙂


    You totally rock. Thanks for being my cyber friend and better yet example.

    I know personally I have struggled with the pain of strengthening my forgiveness muscles many different times.

    But NEVER have I ever regretted forgiving another who intentionally or unintentionally wronged me.

    I think that is why the Lord does not give us a choice. The rule is forgive everyone, not matter what no matter why. A simple law.

    You don’t need a forgiveness lawyer or forgiveness accountant to help you deal with the loop holes or intricacies of forgiveness.

    Simple to understand, hard to practice.

    So I guess Yoda said it best: “There is no try, only do.”

  4. Oh that Pat is so darn wise. I think you should take her advice.

    But let’s toilet paper your President’s house first. 😉

  5. Wow! I go out of town for a couple of days and looks what happens!!!! Seriously Annie! I am not too surprised this happened. These things happen to me all the time. (And fyi Utah haters, they happened more in AZ than Utah. Ah ha!)

    But you can only do your best. I’m sorry this made you feel bad. And I think you are handling it great (or at least how I would have!)

    And just remember, you should fulfill your calling to the best of your abilities, but if people make it impossible, it is okay at ask to be released. But I seriously can’t imagine your lessons anything but entertaining. I like reading you as much as I like listening too you.

    Pat was very inspired. And I really like you! Everyone isn’t going to like you and that IS their problem.

  6. Okay I just read all 8 of your posts that I have been behind on…I took a blog vacation! But I’m back. First of all…i teach also, I am APPALLED that they would throw you down like that…and seriously out of no where…but I love that you turn it around to something positive!

    I think also…that sometimes the older women that I see heads bobbin’ I just take that as the spirit bearing witness and it’s their nod of agreement…did you tell your Relief Society President that? i’d be happy to pass that info along to her? 🙂

    Black Friday is NOT aHOAX and that is blasphemous for you to even think that! But you’re right…some stores do cater to men…and I had never thought about it, but now that I have, I am writing a letter to be published on the internet to warn everybody and tell them they will die if they don’t forward it to 5.3 friends!

    And I only have ONE boy…be he always has my little girl pinned and I am having to rescue her time and time again! 🙂

  7. Yep, that Pat’s a smart one. I love that choice between “bitter” or “better”. I’m totally going to remember that.

  8. I’m with you Crash. And I’ll provide my own TP.

    Meanwhile – way to be Anne. Mom’s always right.

  9. I’m proud of you Annie, you took the high road!!!!! YIPPEE!

  10. If you guys are going to TP count me in on that and be sure to let me know when and where.

    And Annie, Jen says you can do the whole barn dance from 7 Brides , Is that really true? It only increases my admiration for you.

  11. annie valentine says:

    In my sleep Pat, in my sleep. In fact, I can do both the girl’s AND the boy’s parts.

    Not by choice.

  12. WHOA WHOA WHOA!!! What did I miss?!

    Kudos to your grown-up-ness.

    I will say that I hope I am never, EVER, called to be RS prez. It’s a thankless job and you have to please everyone.

    I would die.

  13. Once I think that we’re making progress with your mean streak you go and FORGIVE someone! For the love of Pete (or Jason) could you just hold onto a grudge for at least 3 months? Or a week? I, on the other hand, have better resolve, rock solid discipline and a more natural ability to stay mad & bitter for longer lengths of time. Hey, we can’t all be me. I’ll let you know when I’ve decided to forgive your RSP. This, my dear Annie, is TRUE loyalty.

  14. Congratulations. You are great. I do believe you passed the test.

  15. sissymissy says:

    I am sure YOU have never offended ANYONE!

  16. I think I’ll vinyl letter that one on my walls: “Bitter or Better”. . . and think of you and your growing pains each time I try and do the same. You’re the best, I’m sorry this happened to you, but I think you grew from it and will be better.

    I was in a RS Presidency once, a young 24 year old in a ward full of retired women. I was over the teachers and had to speak to some ladies that were all about table decorations, food and handouts and never used the manual once (it was back when the manuals were new and not well liked in that ward, apparently!) They just couldn’t humble themselves and I had to release them, so thank goodness you ate the humble pie (even though it was only disguised as pie and it was really mud slop) I’d hate for you to get released and put in as YW President or something!

  17. annie valentine says:

    sissymissy, if I had a dime for every apology I’d dished out over the past 30 years, I could start a dime factory.

  18. I don’t know about the whole in or out of Utah thing, except that I know that here we are just THRILLED if the teacher just shows up! We’re not so picky about anything else! (What? We have manuals?) I have noticed in my experience, though, that being the “president” has exposed me to more criticism and complaint than any other calling I’ve had. I keep telling myself that I’m only pres. because I have things to learn there that I can’t somewhere else. Things like, um, not letting people’s criticism get to me. The hardest is making sure that Every single kid in Primary knows I love ’em. YW and Primary have been hard enough, I never want to be in RS. I’m just giving you fair warning. Experiences like these are just preparing you to be the best ever R.S. Pres. someday. You’ll already know how to love people who are critical of you (a must) and you’ll be so much more sensitive to those single mom’s who are doing their best just to get themselves and three kids to church, let alone teach anything to such a tough crowd as a room full of women. I mean, at least now you know what not to do.
    And keep those friends like Pat around.

  19. I’m feeling very smug that I introduced Pat to you.

    You’re welcome.

    Didn’t I tell you she is the best?

  20. Delicious lemonade.

  21. I am glad I am not the only one to have deep thoughts while wiping the bottoms of my children…