Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I've never really wondered if it was worth it to go to church with toddlers. Even though most of my time at church these days is spent taking care of them, rather than listening and learning with my fellow ward members. I always assumed that something good would come from a day spent at church. Even if I received no spiritual insights from the speakers or lessons for the day, I knew there were other benefits. Those I've quoted most often are the discipline of going each week, teaching our kids that it's important to go, as well as going to serve others through our callings instead of going to receive for ourselves.

When I was single and lonely, I would wake up sometimes not wanting to go to church. It seemed like a job to to get dressed for other people, to go and small talk with other people, and to present myself as a confident mid 20s professional woman, and I did not look forward to it. But I recognized that each time I made the decision to go, I heard something that day that strongly impacted my life and spoke to my soul.

I carried that lesson into my life as a mother. Even if I could only catch a small bit of church, I believed that that small bit would be useful to me. I started looking for my weekly spiritual manna in the nursery lessons I taught, or the primary songs I sung. Often they were there. There is power in showing Heavenly Father that you are willing and seeking spiritual learning.

But there is something more. Maybe I discovered it on Sunday, or maybe I just remembered it. But it felt like a new vision opening up to my heart.

I was in choir practice. Or trying to be in choir practice. I usually go to choir while my husband stays home with the kids. The choir in my ward is really small, and I can often be the only alto in practice that week. My little girl, however, hates it when I go without her. So I often find myself trying to balance cherishing my only half an hour alone to myself in days, or letting my girl come with me and experience the Spirit in a different way than she usual does. I usually end up going with the latter with varying results.

This Sunday was the same. Though I was so very tired, both emotionally and physically, and though I desperately needed some time alone to commune with the Spirit, I couldn't say no to her when her shining face pronounced she wanted to come with me. So we went. Late. As I sat and plopped down all the bags of stuff that are essential for a day at church with toddlers and a primary calling, my sweet girl ran over to get me a music folder. She then proceeded to wander around the chapel and try to find the best hiding spots. I tried to keep my eye on her as well as the conductor and wasn't really successful at either. She then took it into her little brain that she was solely responsible to clean the chapel and brought me every little treasure and paper and cheerio that the previous ward had left behind, one by one. After a potty break and waving to every primary friend she could see, I returned to my seat just in time for the closing prayer. I had sung about four lines the entire practice.

Oh but my heart was yearning; yearning to sing, yearning to sit peacefully, yearning to delight in the Spirit. Mostly I was yearning to be close with Him and drop my burdens at the feet of the Savior. I didn't feel like I could carry them through the next week alone. So that is what I brought to Him in His chapel; four lines of song and a heavy burden. Not much of an offering.

But that is what He asks of us. He asks for a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I had brokenness and contriteness in spades. It doesn't seem like enough, but that really is all He asks. He wants us to bring our offering to Him, to worship with Him, and to receive His peace. It isn't a spiritual message that we hear or share on Sunday that makes the difference. It isn't the fulfilling of our jobs and callings that He seeks. It is our offering of a worshipful and repentant heart that He accepts. He rewards it with His Spirit, which gives unto us peace and the ability to see and feel His love. Learning through the Spirit and serving others with Christlike love then flow from it.

As that word, offering, settled into my heart and my mind this Sunday, I moved from thinking about what I had to give the ward choir was enough. Or if the attention and happiness I was able to give my daughter was enough. Or if I was enough. I felt that my small offering to the Lord was enough. And I was left with peace, stillness, and a feeling of love through the Spirit. And it was enough.

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