I’m sure that every reader of this blog has experienced days — perhaps even months or years — when it is really difficult to get motivated to go to Church or specific church meetings.
Let me make this clear: I got baptized in my 30s and still have some of the fire of a recent convert, but I occasionally feel negative thoughts about a church meeting.
You are not alone if you feel this way. And you probably have some very good reasons for some of those negative thoughts.
Does this sound familiar?
Sacrament meeting: your kids will not sit still, and they fight with each other, and they run down the aisle, and they are noisy, and you, the parent, get absolutely nothing out of the meeting because you spend the whole time chasing them down or trying to keep them under control. Or if you don’t have young kids, how about the Sacrament Talk of Doom that is poorly organized, includes doctrine that is not correct or is horribly boring?
Your calling: you have been called yet again to (fill in blank here) calling that you really don’t like. The people you teach are not inspired and sit silently for an hour while you desperately try to get them to participate.
Priesthood: Once again, Brother Know It All is teaching, and he is spouting his crazy ideas. You look at your watch about 20 times during the lesson.
Relief Society: Once again, Sister Molly Mormon is teaching, and she is making you feel bad about yourself because you don’t do all of the activities she does.
The point here, ladies and gents, is that we all have felt these things at one time or another. There is nothing wrong with you if you have had these thoughts.
I have found that when these negative thoughts come into my mind I can drown them out with positive thoughts. Here are a few suggestions:
1)Church is not about my entertainment and my short-term pleasure. If it were, it would be different and certainly more worldly. But whenever I am having a negative thought about something, I tell myself: “Geoff B, Church meetings do not exist to entertain you or give you worldly pleasures.” That immediately changes my mindset.
2)”Geoff B, stop thinking about yourself, you selfish dolt. Think about other people. How can you help another person? Can you listen attentively to the poor soul who is nervously trying to give that boring talk in Sacrament? Can you ask a good, thoughtful question in Priesthood or Gospel Doctrine to help the conversation along? (I bet the teacher will appreciate it). Is there a visitor sitting in the back who feels lonely? Can you go talk to an older Sister or Brother who lives alone?”
3)Think about the Savior. Especially during Sacrament. I try to imagine Him on the Cross and think about how much I owe Him. He truly is a great Savior. I think about my goal, which is to have Him say “well done, good and faithful servant” when he sees me again.
4)I am not as smart as I think I am. Every time a lesson is taught poorly I find myself mentally criticizing the teacher. Sheesh, when will I stop only thinking about myself? Have I given any thought to the 15 hours that teacher spent this week preparing for the lesson? Have I thought about the fact that while public speaking comes easy to me, it is very difficult for other people, and perhaps I should give them a break when they do a poor job teaching a lesson?
5)Can I have a good influence on the people I am teaching? If I am teaching teenagers, can I show them that there is another adult besides their parents who has a testimony? Can I be a role model in any way?
6)Priesthood can be difficult for me because it starts at 11:15 a.m. right when I am beginning to think about my Sunday afternoon nap. There are times when I literally cannot keep my eyes open, regardless of the quality of the lesson. But I try. I really do. I find that if I participate in the class I am less likely to nod off to sleep. So I participate.
7)I try to find one volunteer activity a month, either working at the food kitchen, or helping a Scout with his Eagle project, or helping at Girls’ Camp, or helping somebody move. So I go into Priesthood thinking about how I can fit these things into my schedule.
8)Sometimes, if you are quiet and thoughtful, you really can learn something new. Somebody will say something in a way you never considered, or a scripture will really hit home for you. So, I try to be quiet and thoughtful.
These are just some of the things I try to think about. Perhaps you have other suggestions of ways to keep positive during church meetings that might not be the greatest in the world. Feel free to share.