Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Sacrament Meeting Strike and the Tender Mercies of the Lord

I've been on strike for about two months now--no sacrament meeting (our worship service) for me, V-girl or C-Baby. Here's how it started.

About a year ago, a Relief Society (women's meeting) lesson on inviting the Spirit through music, quickly turned to the shameful lack of reverence (silence) during sacrament meeting. Mothers were failing in their duty to keep their children reverent (silent). Children were walking up and down the aisles during church. (Um, ow, mine's the only one who does that.) The constant din of babies and small children was ridiculous. No excuse for that kind of disrespect!

A few kind souls offered up the suggestion that perhaps the mothers were doing their best, that perhaps we could offer to help rather than stew in irritation. They and their kind suggestions were promptly shot down. (Pow. Pow. Ka-POW!)

The next week the lesson was actually on reverence and we (the moms of young children and their sympathizers) were toast. (Ka-POW! Ka-ka-ka-POW!) I left. Fast.

Then our meeting moved to the 1 pm time slot. My baby's nap time. Misery. Pain. Suffering. Every week.

So there I was a few months back, sitting in the foyer (as always) with two children on my lap, both hitting me, pinching me, bashing their heads against me and full-on shrieking.

"Let go! You're hurting me! I hate you," screamed the older one. "AHHHHHH! -et -o, hurt," echoed the younger. "I am a Child of God," sang the mommy.

Meanwhile all four of my other children were wandering through the halls aimlessly, in spite of the fact that I had asked them to stay in their seats while I helped the littles calm down and be reverent. My husband, the sleep-deprived chorister was sitting in a daze on the stand. Something had to change. I was going to snap.

On the way to church the next week, I reviewed our sacrament meeting expectations. Because we had (once again) played church reverently with stuffed animals, the kids were able to spout the right answers as I quizzed them. Do we walk around and visit with friends during the meeting? (No.) Why are we quiet during church? (So we can hear. To show God we love him.) How can we help each other pay attention? (Not fight.) Remember we have a yummy treat at home if everybody behaves reverently. (YAY!) So far, so good.

We walked into sacrament meeting. The baby began crying the moment we walked into the chapel. (She's no dummy. She knows how to get out of there.) We sat down and the middle kids began poking and picking at each other. (Ouch. Moooooom! He...) That was it: I was done. I filed the children out of the meeting, into the van and went home. I ate all the yummy treat by myself.

That afternoon I informed my barely-conscious husband that I was on strike. No more sacrament meetings for me, V-girl or C-baby. I showed him the bruises on my arms from last week's torture. He cocked his head, said "hm," and went to bed.

And so for months now, the bigs have been getting up and going to church with dad then the littles and I would come later, if the baby didn't fall asleep. I was completely unrepentant. I wasn't a wimp. Any sane person would have made the same decision. Even N-girl's sweet worry about my absences failed to move me.

Last week, however, I had a kid break, a math epiphany, and my spirit began to heal. I told God on my way back to my real life that I was ready to go back, to do it again. I told my family when I got home. N-Girl was overjoyed. My husband said, "Hm," and went to bed (got to love night work).

Dutifully, with a vague sense of dread, I went to sacrament meeting on Sunday. Unfortunately, I was unprepared when the baby had a horrifying diaper, so I missed the majority of the meeting taking care of the mess. I missed the announcement that our meeting time was moving, four months ahead of schedule, to the delightful 11 am time slot. Never, in the twenty-five years I have been a member, have I seen a mid-year time change that didn't involve a re-organization of some sort.

So to recap-Jami snaps; Jami rebels; Jami stubbornly persists in her rebellion; Jami feels the Spirit; Jami repents; Jami does the right thing; Jami blinks in disbelief because something just got easier; Jami blinks back tears.

Tender mercies? For me? Oh, thank you, God!