I was reminded of something today: I always learn something new when I go to Church. Every week. Actually, scratch that. I don't always learn something new --usually, I just remember something old I had forgotten. Occasionally I'll learn something new I didn't know before. I believe this is because our Church rocks at teaching the youth about the Gospel. Not that I've learned everything there is to learn about the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation (heavens, no!), just that I know a lot about it, like most members of the Church do. Unfortunately --although I know it was planned this way --I forget a lot. So do most people. Thus the constant reminding in our Church. Pretty much all the time. And it's awesome.
Church today: interesting.
I was flying solo until the end of Sunday School (Brandon flew home from a business trip this morning), it was Fast and Testimony Meeting (both of my girls got up to bear their testimonies all on their own), I taught the last lesson in the New Testament manual in Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class (next year is Book of Mormon! I'm so excited!), and halfway through Relief Society (the third hour) the fire alarm went off. It was pulled accidentally by a toddler who was being held by his dad. They finally got it shut off after about 12 minutes or so, and then we all commenced our lessons. The kids were all excited to talk about the fire alarm after Church! It was actually pretty funny (only because there was no real fire).
This week, I've been pondering why I go to Church. I always do. Go, I mean.
When I was a kid, I adored Primary. There was this buddy of mine, Josh, who would compete with me to see who could read the Book of Mormon the most times. I loved singing in Primary --I adored my teachers. My best buddy, Brenda, and I had a great time. I truly loved Church. [It also probably helped that I attended Church in the coolest old building, EVER. It was built in 1901, I think? It was built as an LDS Church, but it was so different than the church buildings we have now. There were corridors and secret passageways (just from the Chapel, down the stairs to a room behind the stage, and from that room, you could sneak through a furnace room underneath to the nursery room on the other side of the building.) There were stairs and different levels everywhere. I honestly believe that church building (which is still standing, has been renovated, and is still used as and LDS meetinghouse) was a catalyst for a lot of my imagination as a kid.]
When I was a teenager, I was busy. I didn't really WANT to go to Church, I was slightly indifferent, but I was constantly given responsibility. I liked responsibility. I liked having others depend on me. So, I went and I went faithfully. I mean, it's hard to skip when you're the organist, right? Some weeks, it was hard to go --but I still went. I wonder if most teenagers feel this way. No, wait --I take that back --I think MOST teenagers feel this way.
As a Young Single Adult, I went to Church faithfully, but I really don't think it was to strengthen my testimony. I always took notes, read scriptures during the Sacrament, participated willingly, fulfilled my callings, etc. but I realized (now, 13 years later) that the reason was much more selfish: I wanted a husband who was righteous. If I showed the men in my ward that I was righteous, I would find a righteous guy, right? It made sense to me (subconsciously, anyway). I did everything right, but I really don't think my reasons were right, you know? I never, in a million years, would have NOT gone to Church or NOT participated (in fact, my journal writing, my scripture reading, and my prayers were awesome back then), but I'm still not sure my reasons were...altruistic? Unselfish?
Anyway, it's funny now, looking back, because I didn't meet my husband through my ward or church --it was through work. However! He was just what I was looking for, and I was just what he was looking for --and testimony was a huge part of it. In fact, I think the bulk of our relationship was founded on how much we agreed on spiritually. Getting married meant I was able to make Temple covenants and this changed my heart a lot! Next came children --and they grew. And keep growing. And I have to tell them why we go to Church.
Why do I go to Church now?
1. I need it. Desperately. By the end of the week, I'm at the end of my rope --Church always refuels me spiritually. After going, I feel like I can face another week.
2. I love to hear from the people in my ward; I love to hear their experiences, their testimonies, their trials, their successes, their faith. It strengthens my faith and gives me courage.
3. The music. I truly believe music is a catalyst for the Spirit to reach our hearts and minds.
4. The Sacrament. Knowing I can renew my Baptismal covenants every week is a big deal --I know some religions that don't do it. Or only do it yearly. Knowing I can do it weekly just makes me love my Savior more.
5. Sitting on the bench, during Sacrament Meeting, with my husband and my kids --all dressed up nicely, learning reverence, worshipping together --it's seriously one of the greatest feelings I've ever had. And --usually, not always --I get to feel it every week.
It's not always easy. Church can be really hard --especially when Brandon is out of town and the toddler (or when we had a baby) has a blow-out. Or when kids are cranky and whiny and tired and fight. I get frustrated with ignorance and impatient with weaknesses (which is more a sign of my own failings, rather than others'). But it's always worth going. Always, always. Even going while on vacation (we've been to Church in Hawaii, Beijing, Shanghai, London, Canada...). Yep. I pretty much love Church.
P.S. By the way, even though I've gone to Church throughout my life for different reasons, it was always enough. I found that as long as I went and made it a habit, regardless of how I felt before, I was putting myself into the right environment and situation to have my testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel strengthened. It was always enough. Until I was ready for more.
Do you love Church? Why do you go? Have your reasons changed over time?