Hooray! We did it!~
Before I begin my church travelogue and feelings re: it, I'd like to thank everyone for their comments on my last 2 posts. I am grateful for the wisdom and love you shared. I expected to receive generic "you can do it!" advice, and what I got was actually helpful, meaningful, sincere. I especially was grateful to see that I'm not the only one admitting to be bored in church.
NOW, the church travelogue.
We went with Brett and Charlotte to their ward, as they live so close to us, and that way we had 1) friends/family we know to attend with and hold us accountable for going, and 2) someone to watch and take Morgan from time to time.
All in all, it was a good Sunday, long and tiring (tiring from chasing after my son for most of second hour and all of third hour) less boring than usual, but most of all, it was a blessing to partake of the sacrament again.
My problems haven't been solved, but I'm glad I went, and that means something. Sacrament meeting was dull, mostly because the bishop just called up random youth to bear testimony of youth conference. It may not have been dull, but either the sound system wasn't loud enough or the speakers weren't loud enough to be understood over Morgan and other baby vocalists in the middle of their musical performance of "Infant Pandemonium: Movement Six."
Second hour was my favorite, partially because Charlotte and Brett watched Morgan most of the time (and a random stranger Morgan sat happily with for around ten minutes). Sunday School was on Saul's downfall as king of Israel. One of my favorite OT stories, (not featuring Elijah) I was going to list the pros and cons of both the instructor and their teaching method, and how I feel it can be a summation of my feelings towards the church, but I'll just say the instructor was a self-proclaimed Kindergarten teacher with all that entails.
Instead of a criticism of this particular teacher, I'll discuss the majority of Sunday School teaching methods that I have difficulty with. It seems that all many teachers do is have us read a series of scriptures with as little interaction as possible and then teach us the story again, as if we'd never heard of Saul or Samuel, or perhaps it changed since last time. (It hadn't). I love the scriptures, I think they are a gift from God and the word of God and treat them as such. However, in Sunday school, rote reading of the holy word in monotone King James' English can get me bogged down and distracted at best. Especially when the teacher has people read the same verses. (No joke, it was something like "you, read 1 Samuel 13:15-20, now you, read 1 Samuel 13:17-18. You over there, read Samuel 13:21-24, and you, read Samuel 13:23." They just read it! Sorry)
It's hubris and I need to humble myself, but I think a large reason why I have trouble listening to the lessons in church is I think I could teach them better. I've been in the church all my life and studied the scriptures quite extensively, enough to say I know how to feast upon the word. And I do. But it just gets boring when we read a handful of scriptures, teacher might ask us to say "what it means to us," or some other vague question that shows they either weren't listening or don't understand, and then tells us a story we already know. In short, I think my issues and boredom stem from lack of good teachers. You know, kind of like college.
I don't want to just come to church for the sacrament. Though that's the prime important reason to go, I want to enjoy Sunday School and Priesthood. (Don't get me started on Priesthood. That rant may deserve its own post). I've been to Sunday School lessons with amazingly excellent teachers, you'd think with the concentration of Mormons here they'd call some better ones.
Now the good. I'd like to talk about what I love about the Samuel, Saul and the Amalekites story.
For those of you who don't know or would like a refresher, here's the gist: (Read 1 Samuel 15 for the actual version)
The LORD tells Samuel the Prophet to exterminate the Amalekites. Samuel, the LORD's mouthpiece relays the information to Saul, the King. Kill em all. Men, Women, children, babies. Ox, sheep, camels. Kill. them. all.
Saul goes and does just that. Kills em all. Well, mostly. Saul decides to spare the king, Agag. He also thinks it's a good idea to save the fattest and best of the animals to make sacrifice. Samuel and the LORD don't.
Samuel tells Saul: (1 Sam 15:22) "...to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
Samuel kills Agag, Saul has his kingship revoked.
Good story, right?
One thing she kind of touched on but not really discussed, was Saul's real sin. The man wanted to sacrifice these animals to God, a commandment, right? (Nevermind the fact that killing them in His name could be viewed as sacrifice, then he would obey AND sacrifice). Saul's real sin was thinking he knew better than the LORD.
Is this my real sin? Quite often (when active, and again yesterday) I thought "I could teach this lesson better." However, I wasn't called to teach this lesson. I was called to listen, not judge. Maybe the rest of the class didn't know the story of Saul and Samuel until it was taught in Sunday School. Maybe I could learn a thing from Samuel, to let the LORD know His servant heareth. (1 Sam 3:10) To hearken, and obey. But it's hard. It's difficult to listen to a lesson and story I know without being bored. School is a place of learning, but on Sunday they're teaching stuff I already know. Is my lesson to listen when bored and not think I'm above it all? Should I just pull a Henry Eyring?
The story of Henry Eyring (one of them. I'm sure there are others. At least the one I'm referring to) goes something like: An exceptionally boring speaker expounded on some Gospel subject. The mood of the congregation ranged from dangerously bored to fighting to stay awake. Someone noticed Henry Eyring, scientist, genius and father and namesake of our current First Counselor of the First Presidency, that he was beaming at the speaker's remarks. Beaming. After the meeting, his son inquired if they were indeed in the same meeting. Here's what he said:
"Since I was a very young man, I have taught myself to do something in a church meeting. When the speaker begins, I listen carefully and ask myself what it is he is trying to say. Then, once I think I know what he is trying to accomplish, I give myself a sermon on that subject.
Since then, I have never been to a bad meeting."
Since then, I have never been to a bad meeting."
While this perspective may allow for the reign of the boring teachers to continue, it makes the responsibility of my church involvement mine. Yes, I'm bored. No, it's not my fault, that person can't teach worth beans. But whether or not they're Socrates or little old Sister Johannasbergsteinheimersen, I can proactively affect my enjoyment. If I'm so smart, (and I am) maybe I'll just teach myself. Which is what I did in Elder's Quorum, when not chasing after a curious Morgan. But that's worthy of another post. Maybe.
In conclusion, yes. I'm very glad I went. No, it didn't magically solve all my problems, but I didn't expect or even want it to. (Well, it would have been nice...)