Sunday, March 09, 2014

This is what church can be like

I had a really fantastic time at church on Friday. That has happened all of a handful of times since we moved here in 2010. I love being a Mormon, and I always appreciate church on some level, but it is often hard work, depending on your calling (=volunteer position at church). Until recently, I was in charge of the Primary (children's) class and it was two hours (out of three) of being ON. Depending on who did and did not show up, I sometimes ran the thing by myself as a kind of all-in-one teacher, music leader, and accompanist. When church was over, I needed to decompress in order to gear myself up for doing it all over again the next week. It wasn't unrewarding work, but make no mistake: it was work. Church for me was not a restful, worshipful experience. I spent more time filling the lamps of others (usually small, irreverent, misbehaving others) than I did sitting back and letting the light of the gospel and the testimonies of my co-congregants fill my own. What spiritually sustaining moments I had were snatched from a sentence or two of a talk heard there, a beautiful moment in Primary here, and my own study during the week.

My callings now are to play the piano in Sacrament Meeting (the first hour) and Relief Society (the women's meeting during third hour). I know God loves me because these callings are like a "well done thou good and faithful servant" reward to me after years of toil in the Primary. I love playing the piano at church and even though I am currently playing two out of the three hours, and even though I just got out of heavy-duty service in the Primary, I proclaim to you now that I would gladly play during the second hour in Primary, too, and thank you for it. Everyone has their own language of worship and mine is music.

On Friday, then, I played the piano during first hour. I timed Sterling's nursing session just right so that it came between hymns and neither he nor I was rushed. He slept in my arms during second hour and I actually got to sit and listen to a well-prepared Sunday School lesson and the insightful comments of my fellow attendees. During the third hour, Sterling sat in the empty arms of a woman whose own 5-month-old baby is away from her in her home country, leaving my very full arms free to play the piano. The lesson was a thoughtful one about Faith in Jesus Christ, taught by a darn fine woman with no nonsense about her.

When church was over, I was tired, hungry, a little dehydrated, and ready to go home, yes, but I was also edified, uplifted, unfrazzled, and content with my spiritual experience that day. I know not every Sabbath will be like this last one, but this Friday was enough to remind me why I go to church, and it will keep me going there for a while yet.

11 comments:

Jen said...

Honest to goodness, I'd never considered the ebb and flow of filling lamps v. having my own lamp filled with regard to Sabbath worship. IT IS SO TRUE. (Right now, I'm in a Church as Work Phase, and there are Sundays when, truthfully, I send up a thankful prayer to Heaven when one of my kids is sick enough to stay home.) =)

So happy that you had such a stellar sabbath on Friday. I love hearing about your church experience whenever you offer it.

(Also? Five month-old away from their mother? That was enough to break my heart this morning and I can't stop thinking about it. The world is unfair in too many ways.)

Alanna said...

I feel like so many Mormon blogs spend a fair amount of time complaining about what went wrong in their church meetings or why they hate their calling (or feel hard-done-by because of it). This blog post was an absolute delight to read. Glad you're happy!

Crys said...

Five years as primary president, I can relate. I would come home every Sunday and my feet would just ache. A few years out of primary though and now I'm starting to miss it. Children's faith is so strong. Sometimes I feel like maybe they were actually the ones filling me up :). I bet they are grateful to have you playing the piano though. Even in our state side ward there are not enough people that we have a pianist for relief society. We have a piano that actually plays most of the songs itself and someone just has to sit their to push a button to start the next verse. The kids asked me how long I'll make them take lessons. My response...until you are good enough to play most of the hymns :)

Kitty Crazy! said...

I totally relate to everything you said, Bridget. I always felt so relieved when I had a music calling. However, I didn't seem to get as much growth from it as I did from other more time-consuming callings. Just enjoy it, though. You've done your duty and deserve this! Janice

Liz Johnson said...

AMEN. Primary Pianist was one of the most soul-filling assignments I've ever had.

That said, we maybe stayed home from church today and told the kids we canceled it because of Daylight Savings. I just couldn't bear the idea of fighting my 15 month-old and 3 year-old for three straight hours. I just couldn't. Gah.

Bridget said...

Yes, so sad. I could write an entire post about how it feels to have your family with you, here, and go to church with many people who don't have the same luxury. It's hard to know how to manage. I was shy at first to ask this woman to hold Sterling but in the end I figured she would say no if she really didn't want to.

Bridget said...

Thanks! I feel like I did my share of complaining, but yes, my point is that church was awesome and it was thanks to the efforts of so many of the ward members.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

It's a wise way of doing things, that we are given assignments which may not be our forte, which require us to stretch, and which turn out to be a lot like a part-time job. And then we are released and asked to do something low-key. All of it is rewarding and provides growth, though I have had times when the phase "endure to the end" for me meant until they end of such-and-such calling. How nice that you are now in a calling that is filling. My equivalent is working in family history or Cub Scouts (shock, right? when you're not musical that's the way it goes).

Anna said...

This is unrelated to the context of this post, but it's been over five years, and I still love reading your blog. Thanks for all the writing you do.

breanne said...

My favorite calling of all time was when I was in the Primary presidency. Two of my sisters are in Primary callings and every time I visit them I volunteer to substitute in Primary or Nursery. I've been in singles wards for lots and lots of years and I don't have kids, though, so maybe that's why. I teach (adult) Sunday School now and I always think, "This would be so much easier if I was teaching Primary! We could play a game and look at pictures and sing a song...it would awesome!"

Susanne said...

How long do callings last? Good to read you had a pleasant service!

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