Sunday, August 16, 2009

Church Hallway Revelations

Halfway through Sacrament Meeting, the first hour of our three Church block this morning, I could not deny the obvious. Lydia had a slightly runny nose and a widely intermittent cough. She could not go to Nursery. Elisheva also had a runny nose, which meant I couldn't take her into Nursery with me for my third hour stint as Nursery Assistant. Besides these pesky symptoms, neither of them were acting sick at all, but one can never be too careful with children and contagions.

Avram volunteered to get another ride home after his Young Men's Presidency meeting after church, if I wanted to just go home with Lydia and Elisheva after Sacrament Meeting. Considering I had already visited the toilet with Lydia twice, and had been out multiple times with Elisheva--the superlative Sacrament screamer--this was an attractive option. I wavered about spending another two Church hours sitting in the hall, while my children's legs and noses ran amok. Home looked inviting, if not any more restful.

Then I remembered something my Stake President over the stake at Wymount had said, back when Lydia was a baby. He postulated during a stake conference held in the Provo Tabernacle that sometimes we may ask ourselves why we come to Church at all, if we only spend the time walking with our children in the hallways, or wrestling kids during the Sacrament to hold still and be quiet. As at this very moment I was standing with Lydia by one of the exits, trying to keep her relatively quiet, this opener spoke straight to me. I indeed had wondered sometimes what the point was of being in Church when I didn't feel as if I had spiritually been fed.

He went on to say that it did matter, that attending Church every week, no matter our children's state of being or time spent listening quietly to the lessons was important. If we attended Church with a child every week, every year, for 18 years, that child would go to church 936 times. All of those attendances at Church would add up. Maybe this week my family might spend most of the time kid-wrastlin', but the spiritual instruction, over the sheer numbers of times spent in Church, would add up.

So I stayed. As I sat in the hall during Sunday School, while Elisheva explored the workings of an available carseat, I thought that perhaps today I only heard about the beginnings of Baptism for the dead in Nauvoo, and the subsequent starting of the Nauvoo temple. I spent maybe five minutes total in class. But I heard it! And I thought on it. Not much, in between Elisheva's neediness, but more than I would have if I had gone home with the girls. I thought to myself how if I had gone home, and if I stayed home every time my girls weren't being reverent, I would go inactive. We have an 8:30 church, and between leaving the home at eight a.m. and it getting dark past eight pm, Elisheva never has much patience or understanding for Church worship. She is also at that age - 16 months - where even when she is happy she loves to show off her walking and loud babbling skills, which disrupt classes as much as screaming does.

If you tack on pregnancies, with accompanying morning sickness, beached whale syndrome and new babyness, then add toddlers, potty training kids, sick kids, grumpy teenagers, and every thing else life throws at you, we would never come to Church. The Gospel--like everything important in life--is never convenient. So we decide on our priorities, and here we are, and I am happy to be here.

Then in Relief Society, as I once again carried the yelling Elisheva out, I saw the Stake Relief Society President, who was visiting for the day, smile fondly at me and my child. A smile of love, a smile saying, "I've been where you are, and it does end, and children, even screaming ones, are wonderful." I felt loved. I felt the spirit of Relief Society. I never did find out what the lesson was actually about - but I was spiritually fed. Elisheva and I walked around the Church building, looking at pictures of Jesus. I found out that Elisheva knows the word Jesus; one of the four or five words she knows at all.

Then after Church we stayed for Choir, while Avram went to his meeting, and I was able to sing and expand my singing abilities as well as sing with other Saints around me, and keep my commitment to attend for the Choir director.

Normally Church isn't this difficult. Many weeks I am able to attend to the lesson, and Elisheva doesn't act like a banshee, nor does Lydia stay with us past Sacrament Meeting. Today, though, I was reminded of why I attend Church every week. It isn't to show off my nice clothes, or my well done hair (which usually gets brushed on the way to church). Although I love the lessons, and have callings to fulfill, it isn't ultimately because of this. Every week we go to Church to simply partake of the Sacrament, and to show my children that this is what I believe, this is what is important to us in our family.

After 936 repetitions, I hope the same lesson with be learnt by my girls.


  1. Thora I really needed to hear this today. I was able to stay and listen to most of the Nauvoo lesson and I learned about Joseph Smith in YW (this was inspite of Josh acting crazy and having a dirty diaper) I forget that Church even with the crazy children it still very spritual and uplifting and I need to choose to be more spiritually minded. Thank you!
    I love you Bork!
    Love your Smork

  2. I remember sitting and talking on the stage stairs to a very disruptive Thora who was three or four about being reverent in Church and how unhappy in makes Jesus for her to behave in this manner. And it came to pass. Someday maybe even Neal will be active for all of the time he spent in church.

  3. I totally agree with you, to a point. Having had a child who gets sick at the drop of a hat, if someone near him even thinks about coughing, and having known children with autoimmune deficiencies, I thank you for not simply dropping them off in nursery anyway, like SO many parents do. However, in the same breath, for us, sickness=home, no mater how sick, no mater who it is. Because I've been there. Lots. And we were probably considered inactive because Oliver was sick all. the. time. And when he finally got healthy we'd take him to church, and he'd get sick again.

    But the time spent watching your example and being taught and just being in proximity to the Spirit does add up. Oliver now knows how to be reverent, and walks or sits with his arms folded when reminded. Not for long, but he does it. And he watches for the bishop to stand up after the sacrament is served to get his toy/snack back (because we sit reverently and think about Jesus during the sacrament.) They are tiny steps, but they are steps in the right direction.

  4. Exactly.

    Some people tell me that it's amazing that we've been taking our family with three babies in a row to church two hours away for so many years. That's nice to hear, but it's just the same principle as you talk about here. It doesn't matter. You go to church. You don't just not go to church, right? And even though you have to take your two year old to go "Pee! Pee!" three times during sacrament meeting and try to figure out how to get him to stop pointing to the man carrying the tray of water and saying, "Ah-lo! Ah-lo!" for the entire time the ah-lo is being passed, you're there, and you do catch some things, and the kids do feel it.

    Plus you're totally blessed for it. And also you made a covenant to do it. I guess that's sort of important, too. :)

  5. With sick kids one of us does usually go home after Sacrament Meeting, but we do try to at least attend Sacrament Meeting. And I've told myself similar things about the value of being there even when I feel like I'm not getting anything out of it.