Monday, April 13, 2009

Serenity


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
~Reinhold Niebuhr

Saturday I attended a family bridal shower, and this quote was hanging on the wall in the restroom of my cousin' s home. I've decided it needs to be my motto, given the turmoil I have felt over the last few weeks.

Earlier in the week, when I was in church melt-down mode, I thought Scott and I decided that we would skip our 9 am sacrament meeting (So that we could have more Easter-morning time as a family, maybe watch that church DVD on Christ that was in the Ensign a few years ago. Also, it was our fast and testimony meeting and I really was not in the mood to listen to people say how glad they are to have prophets to follow when the world is such a scary place. My brain always reads certain things into comments like that, assuming the person is automatically thinking about gay marriage in particular.) I knew the kids would want to go to primary and Young Womens, and I needed to go fulfill my calling in Relief Society.

Then Saturday night Scott said the only meeting he was willing to go to was Sacrament meeting. So, we decided to go for the whole block of meetings, and Scott planned to sit in the foyer while he waited for the rest of us. (Ever since a comment was made in EQ the week of the "apostasy" lesson about Prop 8 and "that persuasion" of people, he has refused to attend. I can't say I blame him.)

Sacrament meeting wasn't bad. I honestly didn't listen much, because I was chosing songs for Relief Society and dealing with children who always fight over me. One man in our ward spoke about Elder Holland's talk and how good it made him feel to realize that Christ knows what it feels like to be totally and completely alone.

That is the one talk that stood out in my mind last week. Elder Holland wins again for giving the talk that impressed me the most (6 months ago it was his talk on Angels). I thought of many of my young friends who always say how alone they feel. They don't feel like they can marry someone of the opposite gender, and if they want to stay in the church, then they can't seek the companionship of someone of the same gender, so they resign themselves to the depressing thought of always being alone, or the thought of seeking companionship and thus being separated from church and God, and thus being alone in another way. Such a struggle. I wish I knew what to say. Actually, this make's me think of John's blog post, "Interviews with Christ." Check it out if you haven't already. In my heart I feel like he has hit the nail on the head. He talks about how everyone has to seek the path that is best for them and then live the best they can.

Anyway, child #3 ended up wanting to go home after Testimony meeting, so I ran Scott and the child home, and returned partway through Sunday School. Not wanting to interrupt the meeting and sit by myself, I sat in the foyer and started reading general conference talks from last week on my phone.

Jacob, who you might know as a reader of my blog, came in the door while I was sitting there (he had run home for a minute as well). He was very kind as he sat down and talked to me, knowing how I have been feeling this week. He seemed glad to see me at church, at the very least, and was so non-judgemental of my struggle. I was glad that he did not ignore me, but took the time to acknowledge and check on me. He wished me luck and said he would be thinking of me when I told him that my "favorite teacher" would be giving the lesson. (I have not attended a lesson of hers since...December, I think. And of course January's was the one I was blessed to miss.)

I was just kind of blah throughout the day. During Relief Society I listened when something peaked my interest, and otherwise went back to reading from last week's conference talks. The teacher acknowleged and thanked me for the songs I chose that went so well with the lesson. She is such a kind and loving person, full of compassion, and I felt of her sincere desire to reach out to me and let me know of her gratitude.

I did jot down a few notes during the lesson for blogging purposes:

  • Someone mentioned Zion's camp, and how the men did not accomplish what they had in mind, but God did accomplish what he wanted--a learning experience for the leaders of His church.
I thought of how we must have faith, that God sometimes works in mysterious ways to accomplish his goals. I mentioned this in my interview for the documentary, that some may find my opinion blasphemous, but perhaps the reason God wanted the church to be involved in the Prop. 8 campain was to help give the gay-rights movement a boost that they would not have had otherwise. It has brought the topic to the front of discussions, which is where it needs to be if anything is going to change. Scott and I have wondered how the timing in our lives fits into this big picture. Why was Scott able to come to terms with his same-sex attraction right when the church was in the middle of this politcal battle? We feel there has to be a reason for the timing for us.
  • The teacher presented this quote from the lesson (and Joseph Smith), just as the children in the primary room next to us began to sing "I'll walk with you" : I am a lover of the cause of Christ and virtue, chastity, and an upright steady course of conduct, and a holy walk.
What kind of walk is a holy walk, and does it have anything to do with walking with those who are not like us, like the song speaks of? I believe so. The timing of the song and the quote was perfect for my thoughts.

  • The teacher spoke of how God expects us to be the best "us" that we can be, and not compare ourselves to others.
Boy, isn't that exactly what I need to do right now. I don't need to be like the "perfect" women in the ward, but I don't need to change who they are, either. All I need to be is myself, the best me that I can be. I need "...the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
  • She also mentioned Elder Holland's talk, and gave some sweet examples of past events in her own life, when she has felt the help of her own father from beyond the veil.
I was reminded of sweet moments last summer when I too, felt help from beyond the veil, from Scott's mother whom I have never met. I was reminded of my blessings and the angels in my life.
  • Some of her final words were the thoughts that no one is brought back to the gospel by condemnation, but there is also a fine line between standing up for what we know is right and compassion for others.
Is it possible that somehow those words were meant for me from her personally, letting me know that she did not mean to condemn me, but only that she was standing up for right, and was learning to find that fine line between doing so and also letting me know of her love and compassion for me? I don't know, but her words were tender and heartfelt.

Wow, yesterday during the lesson I was blah. Being at church was blah. I did not feel inspired to stay active in the church, but I was not miserable either. I did felt inclined, or maybe inspired to write down some notes, and now as I blog through and analyze the notes, I am truly touched that God is mindful of me, that the sisters in my ward truly do love me (which I already knew, but was being too prideful to recognize their efforts ).

I don't think it is time to give up yet. There is peace and serenity from church attendance, even if it doesn't come until the following day. :)

9 comments:

Scott said...

(Ever since a comment was made in EQ the week of the "apostasy" lesson about Prop 8 and "that persuasion" of people, he has refused to attend. I can't say I blame him.)

In the interest of complete accuracy, I'll mention that I have in fact been to EQ a couple times since that lesson, but yes, in general I'm not interested in being there. I'd rather read scriptures and/or conference talks and study on my own (either in the foyer or at home) than sit through a lesson in EQ.

For those who have wondered (based on recent posts) where I stand on the issue of church attendance... I can't feel good about skipping the sacrament every week, so for the one hour (give or take) of Sacrament Meeting, at least, I will sit and worship and ponder and pray. Beyond that, personal study will probably as often as not take the place of the group lessons.

But I'm glad, honey, that you are able to be touched by and benefit from the lessons! It's good for both of us. Love you! :)

marci said...

Sarah,
I don't even know what to say but somehow I feel compelled to write...yet again. And again I want to thank you for your insights and thoughts about your lesson yesterday. I am in the Young Women so I completely miss the relief society lessons which is a bummer from time to time. Unlike you, I was not brought up in the Gospel. I didn't even start going to church until I was 30. Of course now I am so thankful to have accepted Christ into my life and my life has been better for it and for that I am ever so grateful. I also just wanted to mention my opinion about why attending church is important to me. I am not preaching, so please don't take it that way. When my twins were babies, they were so hard at church. All they did was cry and barf for 3 hours and every Sunday without fail Both Bran and I spent the whole time basically walking the hallways. So I decided I would not go to church for a while, because I was way frustrated. But what I in turn learned about myself is that one decision effects the next and so forth. When I didn't go to church for a few weeks, it became easier to go to out to the store or maybe to get food on Sundays. Thats about as far as it got for me to realize that I needed to attend church even if for no other reason than the fact that I was being obiedient to my Father in heaven. I realized that even if I feel like the 3 hours are wasted in the hallway stressing with crying babies, I am still doing what HF asked me to do. I have found that a lot in life with different things that if I do what HF asks of me, it becomes a lot easier to do all the things he asks of me. Please know that I am very much so NOT perfect and even though I try, I still do a lot of things that I need to change or improve on. Numero uno-I need to stop yelling at my kids! I am not trying to say in any way that I am without fault. Just that when we are not obiedient, it can make it easier to do another thing, then another. My whole life I have had to learn things the hard way and if anything I say can help another, it would be worth all the crap I went through. I hope you don't feel like I am trying to be preachy. I hope my words don't come across the wrong way. I just care about your family and hope things can be okay and happy for all of you. Marci

Sarah said...

Scott, thanks for the clarification, for me as well as everyone else.

Marci, comment any time you feel like doing so. I am not offended and I appreciate you sharing your experience. I am honored that you have taken such an interest and concern for us. I hope that learning about us has not brought back too many bad memories from your own personal experience.

marci said...

Sarah,
It has been a little hard for me. I am surprised that I felt the way I did being that we don't really hang out very often, and that I thought those feelings were long gone. But I actually found myself in such familiar and yet really big yuck feelings about how my own life fell apart. There were a lot of differences and I think your situation is harder than mine, mine was just over no matter what I thought or wanted. But somehow though it is difficult to think about it and be reminded of it, I have so much compassion for both of you and the trials you have and still face on a daily basis. I know we haven't bewen really close throughout the years, I am here and I care. Marci

Jacob Proffitt said...

I'm so glad that it turned out positive in the end. I could see you were struggling to be there. I can sympathize (and honor the willingness to make the effort).

Alan said...

Like the NT says, the Spirit is like the wind, you can't control it, it goes when and where it wants, and sometimes it surprises us. I trust your judgment Sarah as to what's best for you at this stage of life. I know your heart's in the right place. So God knows that too.

Pieces of Me said...

Sarah:

What a nice post! I love the quote you started with, it has always been my personal moto, and even more so during the last year as I have struggled to determine what I can accept and what I can change and to know the difference between the two.

Sarah said...

Marci--I'm glad that you care so much! But you don't need to be miserable for our sakes. We are fine. Let's get together and talk SOON!

Jacob--thanks again.

Alan--thank you for your support as I figure this out. I guess the hardest thing is reconciling my decision with Scott's--I don't want to sit through Sunday School without him, answering others when they ask where he is. I want him to sit with me in Sunday School, tune out the lesson and comments, and do his personal study with him by my side. But I guess that might be too much to ask for now. :)

Pieces, I haven't heard from you for a while. Any chance we will have you and your better half and kids at our next MoHo party? We are hoping for just that. Hope you are well. Scott enjoyed chatting with your husband last week. Take care.

Brannon said...

Sarah,
I am not miserable! I just care and I understand how you must feel. We definitely need to hang out! Marci