Sunday, November 23, 2014

Worth It

About 18 months ago we were driving home from Utah and had one of Josh's friends with us.  We drove as far as Boise on Saturday and spent the night in a hotel, planning to drive the rest of the way on Sunday.  I decided that since I didn't *have* to drive on that Sunday but was choosing to do so out of convenience, we would find a church near the hotel and go to sacrament meeting before heading home.  The kids weren't thrilled with this idea but I was firm about it.  We had a hard time finding a church building on the website the next morning and I could tell the kids were hopeful that I'd give up and we could just get on the road. 

I finally figured out where we should go and the kids reluctantly got into some semblance of church clothes.  Josh's friend realized that his church shirt was out in the van and decided that he would just wear his blazer over a white tshirt.

When we got to the church building and walked into the chapel I saw that there was a real pipe organ and got kind of excited.  The hymns were pretty normal sounding, but the postlude?  It. Was. Amazing.  And the talks were really extraordinary.  As we walked out of the chapel (but not until the postlude was over!) each one of the kids commented on how good the meeting was and how glad they were that we'd come.  Josh's friend said that he wished he'd worn his church shirt!  I was so grateful for the whole experience.


Last spring we were in Utah over 2 weekends.  Often when we are traveling and go to church we just do "vacation church," and just go to sacrament meeting.  This trip was right after general conference though, and one of speakers had talked about the importance of going to all of our meetings all of the time.  I decided that especially since we were going to be in Utah for 2 Sundays we would stay for all 3 meetings both Sundays.

This was *not* a popular decision with my shy children.  Each one of them let me know how unhappy they were with this decision but I stuck to my guns, wanting to impress on the kids the importance of attending all of our meetings where we were able to. 

After finding the right class for the triplets I went into Sunday School with Russ, Jason, and Josh.  I love Sunday School and thought that the lesson on the Exodus would be great for the week before Easter.  My expectations couldn't have been farther from the truth.  Instead of a great and inspiring lesson the substitute (who was old enough to know better) had prepared a power point for his lesson, narrating the sequence of events of the Exodus using screen shots from the Charlton Heston movie of The 10 Commandments complete with a commentary about individual actors.  The awful pinnacle of the lesson was a 2+ minute video clip of Moses parting the Red Sea.  Jason and I commiserated later that every time it has seemed like the spirit might be coming into the lesson the teacher would say something again and it would be gone. Instead of sitting in Sunday School basking in spirituality with my boys the experience felt more like torture.

When the lesson was (blessedly) done, Russ and the boys went off to priesthood meeting leaving me alone in the Relief Society room.  In that moment I felt like an idiot for having made us stay for all of the meetings.  I felt so alone.

A woman came in and sat next to me.  Realizing that she didn't recognize me she introduced herself and asked where I was visiting from.  I hesitated for a moment, then laughed and said that I just wasn't used to identifying myself as being from Oregon.  She laughed with me and asked where I had lived before Oregon.  I, of course, said that we had lived in North Carolina for almost 20 years.  Much to my surprise her eyes brightened and she said that she used to live in North Carolina.  When I asked where she had lived, she said Durham.  Can you imagine the shock and awe I felt in that moment?  It turned out that we knew many of the same people and were happily occupied until Relief Society started talking about the places and people we both loved.  Just as the lesson was about to start she told me that the teacher had also once lived in Durham, so after the lesson I introduced myself to her and we also talked.  Instead of leaving church that day sad and lonely, my heart was happy because of my bonus North Carolina "reunion."  I felt like I had been blessed because of my faithfulness in staying for all of the meetings that day.

When we went to Utah for Russ's mom's funeral we traveled both ways on Sunday.  It was just the way our schedule worked out.  And I know that there will still be some times that we do go to "vacation" church.  But I also know that when we do go despite the discomfort or the sacrifice, we will be blessed.  Maybe not always in warm and fuzzy ways.  Maybe not always in immediately apparent ways.  But I know it will happen.

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