I'd like to paint you a picture, if you will:
It's Sunday, and church is the norm. You get yourself respectfully dressed and walk the block to church on a beautifully cool summer day. You step into the chapel expecting to become edified and are taken back by the most beautiful improvisational piano prelude music. You have never experienced such music in church before. The melismas and melodic depth transforms the most simple hymn into a work of moving art. Tears were brought to your eyes until your ears become clouded. The grey, dark cloud of adult conversation billow over the pews and begin to drown you in gossip, cackles and unnecessary noise until the view of the colorful melody being performed from the stand disappear from sight. This was my Sunday.
A gentleman with exquisite talent was filling in for our regular organist and I do wish he would more often. It was simply beautiful! An experience rarely seen and from my point of view deeply appreciated. Unfortunately, it was literally drowned out by the noise a majority of the congregation was making. I wanted to go to the pulpit and ask them to be reverent and listen to the music being played, but the meeting started too soon for me to no doubt stand on my soap box and offend many. So instead, I will stand on my soap box here. I am ashamed of my ward.
I am ashamed of my ward to the point where I do not enjoy attending church. Ironically, as I was sitting there with tears in my eyes and my thoughts reeling with frustration for the noise that continued through the meeting and distracting many from the messages of the best talks I had heard in a while, one gentleman spoke about the importance of the church. (Again, I am LDS.) I loved what he said as a point to his talk. He said that he does not come to church to have friends, but that he comes to church to be edified, taught and strengthen his own testimony. His words prompted a thought in my own mind. Is church really that important anymore?
I look at the many people in my ward, and other wards, who only come to get their bills paid, or attend because their wives make them, or don't care if their kids run wild through the stand, or break out lunch as if it's okay to even eat in the chapel, or carry on a conversation so loud it's completely clear to everyone in attendance, etc. etc. and I think to myself, "Why are you even here?!" I understand that church is for everyone, and one of my favorite quotes is, "If your sacrament meeting doesn't smell like cigarette smoke, you're not doing your job." Which means, it's open to all walks of life and if it's not filled with that, you aren't doing your job as a member missionary. So I am not at all saying that you must be perfect to go to church. I'm also clearly admitting that I've had my days where I check my facebook during a meeting and have dozed off a time or few. What I'm getting at is the noise. My point is the noise. Better yet, my point is the lack of reverence or respect for something so sacred and wonderful as what goes on during a traditional meeting. So if we are loosing that genuine respect and adopting the idea that it's okay to talk, eat, and let your kids be as noisy as they want to be, is church really that important to us?
I think of a certain individual who used to be such a beacon of light at church for me. He was one that I admired so it was such a shock to me that he suddenly stopped going to church stating that he could feel the spirit better at home than at church. I never really understood his statement until today. I really feel that the spirit in my home is stronger than the spirit that was in that meeting. So what do I do about this? I don't want to not go to church and I have faith in my Lord's gospel, I just have found myself in a state where I have no desire to attend church. I still love visiting teaching, FHE, prayer, scriptures, etc. etc. I attend my activities and encourage my girls to go to theirs. My husband and I are planning to be sealed in the temple, I just don't want to go to church because I seem to always come away feeling frustrated. Do any of you feel this way?
I have no idea what to do. I am lost. I know the primary answer would be to understand that we are all human and that no one is perfect, but I'm not seeking perfection. Am I? Is the expectation of a reverent sacrament meeting too high? I'm sure I need to take a slice of humble pie and take a positive twist to all of this by diving in and serving so much that by example things may change, but I have no desire to do such things. I just want my desire to attend church to return.
Let me explain my thinking to you. For me, the gospel of Jesus Christ is my religion. I am LDS, but only believe the church to be a tool to guide me in the living of my Lord's gospel. The church is not what is true for me, the Gospel is. I do believe that being LDS is the true path for me to take, but I take it to be a part of the Gospel. Do you see the difference between the two? The Gospel is true. The church supports the Gospel. In my mind they are separate things that need each other to work. Because the Gospel is run by God and his Son Jesus Christ, it is constant and true and what I have for my foundation of faith. Because the church is run by humans and will always have an element of imperfection, my faith is not supported by it only guided by it with my own judgement. I hope you have a clear understanding of how I believe in my religion. (If not, ask away and I will do my best to explain.)
So has my faith in God dwindled? Not at all. Has my desire to bring forth the knowledge the LDS church has to others? Not at all. Do I still wish for others to come closer to God through the church? Yes I do. I just don't feel like attending anymore. It's like I have too much respect for what should go on during church to witness what really does. I really wish I had an answer to this question today. I have about 40 people reading my blog. Would you please give me some advice on this? I love my Lord, I love the LDS church, I just don't like how it's being treated. I hope I have not offended anyone, I am just being honest and sincerely ask for your help on this.
So I ask you, Is church really that important to you anymore?