My eyelids flew open to stare at the ceiling. I felt my gut slowly overturn and a slight frown form on my face. “Today’s Sunday” I realized. All at once I felt heavy. Sinking, 3 G’s of force going down the Olympic bobsled track kind of heavy.
I heard the tiniest of grunts and saw my infant daughter’s little body began to stir in her bassinet next to our bed.
I steeled myself then slowly I pulled off my covers and slithered backwards off the bed. Most of my mornings began with the slither.
“Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up.”
As I tiptoed to the bathroom, dodging the debris of clothes and a box of wheat thins, my mind was a flutter of church clothes, showers, diaper bags, bottles, extra socks, granola bars, binders and all of the other items that would be required for me and my little family of three to prepare for the adventure that is going to church.
Just as I made it to the bathroom I heard my little one’s bubbly voice through the door behind me as she started to wake and I felt a mixture of happiness and disappointment. My shoulders sagged. Husband and I would now have to conduct our getting ready routine in shifts. I steeled myself again and went in to greet my smiling baby, and the disappointment evaporated. Oh, the cure that is dimples and wrinkles. In the back of my head, though, I was calculating nap times, feedings, trips to the mother’s lounge, my husband’s primary class and all the other responsibilities of the 3 callings that we held between us. Oh, and tithing. Where’s my checkbook? Ah, under the burp cloth.
I started to get my little one ready and thought of dresses to put on her. No, dresses are way too hard to manage squirmy little babes in while sitting in a pew for an hour, followed by two more hours of sitting in a metal chair. So I searched for one of those handy little sleepers with a zipper that goes from toe to neck. But I hadn’t done laundry in about a million years so the only clean one was the one she was wearing, currently soaked in drool from the night. Clean enough.
Behind all of the buzz, a thought lingered.
“Who ever called this a day of rest?”
I thought about this concept and spent the remainder of the day feeling cheated. I thought about it as my daughter cried the entire way to church and thought about it more on the eighth trip to the mother’s lounge where I found both chairs and the changing table occupied and resorted to changing her on the floor. In a skirt and tights, thanks very much. Scriptures flew through my head, “Exodus 34:12 Six days shalt thou work but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.’, ‘Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.’” Work, then rest. Work, then rest. There was an obvious pattern there. So why was it that in my little life, Sunday seemed to require the very most work of any other day of the week? Where was my rest? Really though, I think I sweat more on Sunday than during any recent trip to the gym… Ok maybe I don’t go to the gym, but if I did I STILL wouldn’t perspire as much as I do on Sundays. Anyway.
Now I was feeling bitter. My thoughts turned to other members of the ward and I realized that it definitely wasn’t just me- anyone with a calling or family has reason to feel the same weight that Saturday night held for my own family. Even during college and in YSA wards the linger-longer, ward prayer, and other mingling activities had a funny way of filling up my entire day and making me feel exhausted for the week ahead.
Obviously there was something wrong here. I began to think of all the ways that the church and leadership could improve this plight of mine.
- 2-hour church!
- Can I give my calling back?
- Maybe there should be a ‘casual Sunday’ once a month…
- Convert the cultural hall into the new mother’s lounge! And add lazyboys. And free babysitters.
I know, not a shiny moment for me. I reeked of desperation.
I got through my Sunday and the bitterness somewhat dissolved, but I couldn’t shake this annoyance with my lack of rest on THE day of rest.
Later in the week I was talking with my father-in-law, a counselor in the Stake presidency and fellow sympathetic towards the ‘busyness’ of Sundays. I had known him to be up as early as 4:30am on Sunday without being finished with his church responsibilities until 6 or 6:30 in the evening. I had seen him come to dinner tired and heavy. I shared my feelings and frustration, partially expecting him to agree that something had to change. We would enter into a conversation filled with, “Right?! Tell me about it! Really though, what are we going to do about this?”
Instead, like the good father-in-law and servant to the Lord that he is, he gave me a very needed reminder. A truth that I knew but had forgotten in my day-to-day buzz.
He said, “It’s not a day of worldly rest, but to rest from the cares of the world.”
Feeling a wee bit sheepish, I nodded my head and thought about that for a bit. I realized that the burden I carried around with me on Sunday wasn’t put there by the church, a calling, or any other thing; I was neglecting the true purpose of Sunday and had been bringing my worldly cares with me. Yes, getting ready and going to church wasn’t always (read: ever) easy. And maybe it won’t be easy for the majority of my life. But the purpose of Sunday isn’t to remove us of our burdens. The purpose of Sunday is that we turn our attention from our burdens and consciously choose to feel peace. It’s a chance to be edified through renewed covenants, music, community, the word of God, and friendship. Sterling W. Sill, a general authority of the church in the 80’s and 90’s, said, “If we were looking for some program to cure all of the problems that presently beset our world, we might well find it by properly observing the Sabbath day…. And what a magnificent day it is when it is used as he intended.”
L. Tom Perry has called Sunday a “meaningful celebration”
It is now evident to me that the Lord intends us to use the Sabbath proactively. By letting the burdens of day-to-day life infiltrate my mind I was releasing my right to experience a day of rest for my soul.
Now, when I approach the Sabbath, I will try to consciously grab hold onto my day of peace, forget my worldly cares, and truly find rest.