Monday, January 22, 2018

A New Year: Another Year of Church Attendance...with my children

Ahhh, church with toddlers. It's so relaxing! So spiritual! So uplifting!  Except when it's not. Which is the majority of the time. Church with small children is so hard. So hard.

In my life, I've had a couple crises of faith (yes, I just googled to make sure I spelled the plural of crisis correctly ha), but never in those periods have I straight up lost the desire to attend church. That is, until I had small children. Call me dramatic but it's true. How it's possible that a one hour meeting can leave me feeling absolutely depleted and discouraged by my children is one of the marvels and mysteries of life. And I am not the first parent to ever say, "is it even worth it to bring my children to church?? maybe I should take a 5 year-ish break except for Christmas and Easter ;)"

2017 was a hard year for me in losing the desire to go to church. I will never forget the worst time when we were visiting a ward on Easter, and a lady turned and loudly "shhh'd" my 2 and a half year old. That really has been the only time someone has been rude to me about my kids at church, but it was hurtful enough to want to send me into inactively attending church for who knows how long. I really don't know what I would do if this kind of thing were to happen more than once, because my emotions really are egg shell fragile about it.

But with that being said, the thing that has kept me going is that on all the worst Sundays throughout the year of 2017, there was ALWAYS a tender mercy of someone coming up to me and offering me words of hope and encouragement. Yes, even in that visiting ward on Easter. On a Sunday in our ward now, Victor was giving a talk and the boys were AWFUL. And then I was teaching Relief Society later. And after my lesson, a lady came and said to me "you have had a stressful Sunday." And as she encouraged me, I lost it. I started crying right then and there. Like I said, I am just so overly sensitive about this!

So even though 2017 was a year that I lost my desire to go to church (by that I mean that I do not look forward to church and view it somewhat with dread), I did not stop going to church, and I am better for it.

Sundays are still hard and I admit that sometimes the only thing that has kept me there past the sacrament meeting is the 2 hours of nursery afterward aka a break from my kids. But I see with each passing week the impact it has on my kids, especially my 3 year old. He comes home asking questions and wanting to talk about Jesus. Yesterday he asked me what our spirits are. So even with my 3 year old, I am starting to have pretty great spiritual talks, and that would never have happened if I gave up on taking him to church.

So it's worth it. Hard, but worth it. And I hope this year will get better and maybe a little bit easier? We shall see.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Annie - I can relate! There are times that I feel I can barely concentrate (like in the rest of life!) and times when I hear something said during mass or participate in a way that makes me know I'm where I need to be in that moment. I have had proud moments where Abby's behavior is complimented and other moments where we leave briefly due to extremely embarrassing and trying behavior (a wise woman told me that it's ok to leave temporarily to send home the message that x behavior is unacceptable, but not to leave permanently which would encourage the behavior - I have to admit I once abandoned ship, but didn't feel right even while doing it). I believe it's good for A to attend mass with us - learning how to sit still, be quiet, be social when that time comes, sing, etc. it's all good. On the flip side, wouldn't it be nice if we could help each other out? I sometimes wonder how I'd be received if I offered to hold a crying baby or move closer to another toddler who's turn it is to make his Mama crazy. We are increasingly separated from each other - but I will make it a point to reach out to a Mom/Dad in need next time I think I can be of help. : )