I went to church today, I had skipped out last week due to my entire family feeling bad. We were sharing fevers and some had tummy issues and I had a sore throat. So I felt, I had to get up and go today, and I did.
LDS services are called sacrament meetings. You get your bread and water in the 1st ten minutes. Totally different from what I am used to. Then you enjoy speakers and the topic they have to share with the congregation (which I should say is done after any Branch/Ward/Stake business). Next is Sunday School or for me, Gospel Principals. Then, Relief Society (Ladies), Priesthood (men), and I assume young folks continue to do young folk stuff somewhere.
This week was odd because the President of the Ward, I think, wanted us to bring up things we needed to talk about. I brought up something that I hope to write about in the future, and someone else brought up this question:
“Why don’t we have attendance?”
Apparently, there are a lot of LDS folks in the area, Baptized and Confirmed like I am, that have simply just stopped coming. Barring serious situations, the overall feeling was, “What can we do?”
Some folks brought up race, there are a lot of White and Native folks in our branch. The branch doesn’t seem to have a lot or if any Spanish, Asian, African, or African Americans. This is not true else where, just here.
People brought up comfort levels, and other issues.
I thought to myself, “What if they weren’t ready?”
I remember, saying to an Elder many months ago; “I’m sorry, being a Mormon just isn’t for me. Maybe I’m waiting for something to happen in my life. Maybe I’m waiting for an understanding. I don’t know but I’m not ready to convert.”
And I totally believed this 100%.
But I kept my peace today because, what the crap do I know? I can’t even read 23 chapters in my scriptures in a week but I can binge watch Rosewood on Hulu.
Anyway, Chocolate Caliente aside, I went on a big walk with CDubs and Ry after company left tonight. Once we got home, the heat had won, and I was feeling bad. I showered, and went for a lay down in our bed.
Then I turned to my secret naughty pleasure. I have an atrocious love for over-the-top cheesy romances. I don’t want to see anyone get it on (nope.), but I enjoy the, “Yay-they-got-together-and-kissed” type films. If it’s a Hallmark, ABC Family, or such film, all the better.
So this film caught my eye on Nextflix:
Ridiculous plot aside- NonChristian gets on Christian Mingle and falls in serious like with said man, said woman has no idea who Jesus is even though she went to church as a child and was baptized, has to buy how to Christian books, is discovered as false, shunned, learns about Jesus, realizes her personal journey is more important than a man, but wins said man anyway and it is love.- it was good.
I enjoyed how the young man’s father happened to discover his faith, and how he himself discovered his faith- it involved science, mice and cheese (To which she says he found Cheesus).
But what was more revealing to me was the character Pam Thomas. She was the “girl get your stuff together” character. The character, you discover, was a Christian the whole movie and never said. She never offered to help the main gal with her deception (good!), nor gave her any guidance once she, the main character, discovered she needed a relationship with Him, not him.
I get how this movie was all, “self discovery,” but no one wanted to help this girl find Jesus.
And I could relate. I had the shinny happy friends who were religious too. I’d try to understand Christianity and they’d offer me osmosis- come to church. Absorb the message. If you don’t get it the first time, well it’s not for you.
While her friends were more so weakly dissuading her from her religious deception, obviously the show had to go on.
My friends, it wasn’t a big deal.
So she studies, reads all these silly books that tell her who God is, and surprise, nothing happens.
You see this girl wasn’t making room in her heart for God’s message. So she couldn’t get it. She just wanted to learn enough to get a man.
And I personally made so many holes to put God in with so many people that nothing was nourished to grow- too many seeds choking out one another’s growth (doctrine against scripture, man against translation, sect against sect).
Once the main character was discovered, she got dumped, mad, and began study in earnest. I think she wanted to know what the big deal was.
For me, study opened up the space I made in my heart so the seed planted there could be fed and begin the work again.
She finds a church.
I found a church.
Then filled with awesome, girl goes out and tells people what’s what.
Well… No, I just try to explain I’m not in a cult. Even if they don’t ask.
But, anyway, Pam, Pam says to her good job for finding God, reading scriptures, going to church! And I know you think you are ready, that you’re a Christian, but you aren’t.
That got me thinking. Pam went on to explain many people say they are but there’s more to it.
I used to get so mad at my friends who I went to church with, or prayed for every night, telling me I wasn’t a Christian.
I mean, it’s the same God, we pray, I’ve read the Bible some, it counts. I’m a Christian.
Except, that’s a start. That was tilling the earth. Not even really making a space yet.
When the character read, went to church, believed, did good works and then changed her life based on those beliefs and tried to live in a Christ like way- she became a Christian.
Which brings me back to the original issue, from Sunday morning. Maybe people aren’t coming back because maybe they aren’t ready, they aren’t commited to living like Christ.
I know plenty of folks from personal experiences, Service every Sunday, volunteer work, church socials, raised up in the church, baptized, all that; who also did drugs, had a questionable consent event, stole, lied, cheated, threw the commandments out the window and cursed God and believed to their core they were Christians.
They wore the right clothes and said the right things when asked, but they weren’t really ready.
It’s hard to be Christ like. I’ve done some personal gardening myself. There’s a space in my heart that’s always been there, but I am trying to feed that seed. I’m giving it scriptures, good decisions, prayer, sacraments, love, study and I hope someday Christ like living.
I think sometimes we want something but we don’t know how to get it. Maybe even sometimes are afraid to ask for it. Maybe going all the way is just too much too soon.
Maybe, because the journey is long we all have to be patient that the seed will grow and bear fruit, but at different times.
At the same time, we should probably keep in mind some people forgot to water the plant and it died. So they might need a new seed, from a different pack perhaps?
The point is, 5 months ago I wouldn’t have gotten baptized. I wouldn’t have tried to read scriptures or study. You couldn’t have made me.
But by being patient, caring, understanding, not judging, and allowing me to take my time meeting me halfway, taking an interest not only in my spiritual life but my mundane life- that got me to listen, got me to go to church.
So maybe, that’s it. Maybe?
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