Here we go again! Post 2! What a streak, am I right?
For this post I wanted to touch on some of the things that stood out to me when I joined the church.
First, because I mean this really can’t be overlooked: for a normal Sunday church is three hours long. Now this can seem pretty daunting to those not familiar with the church or who have just started attending. Let me tell you it took me some getting used to early on since Wyatt wasn’t quite old enough to go to nursery yet. What do we do for those three hours? Well that first hour is our sacrament meeting. During which church callings are proposed and or announced that they’re over, we sing some hymns and there is usually someone talking usually a member not necessarily the bishop. In all honesty I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard my bishop give a talk during sacrament. Then of course probably the most important part is the passing of the sacrament. This is where we renew our covenants with our Heavenly Father.
The second hour is the Sunday School Lesson part. For those just joining the church – or for those investigating – the lesson is Gospel Principles. The missionaries are a big part of this and it goes over a lot of the big pieces of our faith: agency, the fall of Adam and Eve, the Holy Ghost, the Atonement, Baptism. There’s 47 chapters in the Gospel Principles book so I’m not going to list them all, but you get the idea. This is where you can learn about the church, ask questions and find answers (hopefully). Once a member has been with the church for awhile and they feel comfortable enough they can spend the second hour elsewhere like the Gospel Doctrine class. Now I think I’ve been to about three Gospel Doctrine classes so I can’t really say a whole lot about them, but they’re taught by a member and to me it’s always felt like a good place to learn even more about the gospel and the things we believe in, to learn about others’ experiences and come closer together in our faith.
The third hour – at least for the women – is Relief Society. As far as these lessons go they’re all still faith based, but go into topics like marriage and family and living our lives righteously. I find these to be some of the more powerful lessons I go to because I always find it so helpful to get the perspectives of the other mothers/wives that are going through the same things I am and how they continue to strive to keep Christ first in the home (something I tend to fall behind with).
So while it is three hours and there are many a Sunday that my kids make it feel even longer it is at times too short as well. Sundays are powerful, they allow me to focus so much more closely on my Heavenly Father, to be able to pray, to thank him and to draw ever nearer.
Next up: you mean you want my kid(s) to sit through three hours of church? I can’t even get them to sit for thirty minutes at home! Alright so this might be picking on the length of our service a bit but really I had this thought pretty early on. When I joined Wyatt was seven-eight months old at the time. It seemed like an impossible task that was being placed before me because for those of you who know my son you know that even as an infant he was always active. However! That being said what I’ve found to be one of the most amazing things about going to church is that it is almost not as bad as anyone thinks it’s going to be. Now there are a lot of families at church and we all have kids who are varying ages, but for those who have older kids well they went through the exact same thing at one point. Meaning that for the most part everyone understands the struggle of having an infant in a sacrament meeting/Sunday school lesson/Relief Society. Everyone understands that at such a young age they’re not going to sit perfectly quiet and attentive. So while at the start I spent a lot of my sacrament meetings out in the hall listening through the speaker while Wyatt crawled/ran around to his heart’s content, I’ve spent more than my fair share of sacraments sitting in the chapel with everyone else despite Wyatt quite frequently shouting random words at the top of his lungs or having mini meltdowns at random points because he just can’t have something that he thinks is paramount to have at that moment.
For the Sunday School lesson/Relief Society it’s actually a lot easier. It’s a smaller set of people and it’s in a room that Wyatt (and now Kenzie) could just crawl/walk around/explore while the lesson was going on. One of the amazing things about a church that is so family oriented? No one minded him (and now her) coming up to them to take a look at their books/phone/tablet. There were even quite a few members who were always willing to help entertain him as well and every single one of them made me feel at home instead of like a distraction or burden.
Of course then at eighteen months the most miraculous thing happens: they get to go to nursery! They get to spend the latter two hours of church playing with toys, eating a snack (with a short lesson while they eat) and then more toys! I got to go to classes and he got to spend time playing with the other kids; though let’s face it my kid mostly plays next to other kids not with them.
Alright something not related to the amount of time we spend at church on a Sunday: visiting teaching/home teaching. What the heck is this? You mean people want to come over to my house? First and foremost: this is amazing! I love my visiting teachers and home teacher. Okay so what are they. Visiting teachers are sisters who come over once a month to share a message and visit and to see if you need help with anything (I almost never do, but hey one day I might!). More often than not they offer to babysit for me and my husband once a month or so because they know that we don’t have any family in town and so we almost never go anywhere without our kids (this is quite exhausting as most parents know and can undoubtably sympathize). That’s it! Amazing right? They’re just two sisters who come over to help keep you connected to the church, to help you with things you might need that could have nothing at all to do with faith or the church. The love and friendship I feel from these visits truly lifts my spirits every single month.
Alright home teachers. Well they’re pretty much visiting teachers but they’re brothers from the church. They too come over once a month to check in, visit and share a message. They too offer to help with anything that we might need help with. The one thing that they can do that the visiting teachers can’t is give blessings. This is so huge for me. Knowing that if my kids (or even me) are sick or injured I have someone I can reach out to to receive a blessing.
Both give me a sense of community, of belonging and a connection.
Now I could go on for quite some time about things that jumped out at me when I first joined the church, but I think it’s getting to that point where this post is getting kind of lengthy. So I’ll leave you with a few of my thoughts without going into detail on them (and maybe – hopefully – I’ll have separate posts that go into greater detail on them):
Wait you mean there’s another book I need to read in addition to the Bible? (as if I wasn’t far enough behind in all of this reading and knowing things). Granted I still haven’t read either the Bible or the Book of Mormon all the way through and in all honesty I’ve read a great deal more of the Book of Mormon than I have of the actual Bible. Not sure what that says about me, but there it is.
So you’re telling me that missionaries go on missions for two years? You’re also telling me that most of them are younger than me? And they’re going to teach me things? Missionaries are awesome and amazing. The three I learned from (who shall remain nameless in this post) were the absolute best (and maybe a little crazy at times, but that was half the fun). They made learning about the gospel a blast. They made it easy to ask them questions, to talk to them about my doubts and the things I didn’t understand. And while missionaries might not have all the answers to all your questions (while they are amazing, they’re not all knowing, but no one is) they are almost always happy to help read through scriptures and talk through them to better understand them. I think one of the best parts of having missionaries is that they are so full of faith, they have such strong testimonies of the gospel that it is always exciting to learn from them, to get to know them and then inevitably it is sad when they have to move on or go home.
Alright I’ll stop here! I’m sure there were plenty of other things that stood out to me, but I think I’ll fit those things into other posts where I can spend more time talking about those topics. I hope you enjoyed reading through some of my thoughts!