Ever asked yourself this question? Especially after you've been roaming the halls for 45 minutes trying to catch glimpses of talks or lessons? Especially after taking a screaming baby out of sacrament meeting? I know I have!
There was an article about this in the January Ensign, and I thought it was inspiring. It's from a young mom of 6 kids whose husband has a demanding calling, so she needs to get all the kids ready for church by herself while her husband is at meetings and help them stay reverent for all 3 hours of church--much of the time she's out in the halls and she hardly hears a lesson taught or a talk given. A sister asked her "Why even come to church?" As she thought about it, her response would have been "Because that's what we do on Sundays--we go to church."
I want to take this faithful woman's response even further, and explain why it is so important and imperative to continue going to church (even when you feel like you aren't getting anything out of it). Why it's important to establish this pattern.
All throughout the scriptures, patterns are taught. The Savior teaches the pattern of baptism, of the sacrament, we learn the pattern of the pride cycle and how to avoid it, the General Authorities teach us patterns of receiving revelation and personal inspiration. Patterns are all around us. Why is it important that the pattern of going to church weekly is established?
First, your kids learn the importance of the sacrament. Grant and I try to hold Andrew on our laps and not let him crawl around until the priesthood holders have finished passing the sacrament. We are trying to teach him at an early age that being reverent during this special time where we get to reflect on our weeks and renew baptismal covenants. I will admit, this is quite the battle and we are not always successful--but Andrew has made progress and it is getting easier. We are constantly pulling out new toys and books for him to read, but so far it's been a success to keep him quiet and happy during those first 20 minutes of the sacrament meeting. We are hoping that as we establish this physical pattern of sitting still and being reverent, that in the future it can lead into WHY we need to be reverent, and we can then explain the importance of the sacrament at a time when he understands. Going to church and establishing that physical pattern of putting on your Sunday best every week will then help your children establish spiritual patterns of using church to help them rejuvenate their spirits for the rest of the week.
I also firmly believe that even though young babies and toddlers might not always understand what is being said, that they can still feel the spirit. Andrew always enjoys when the congregation sings together because the music is touching his spirit. Going to church doesn't always have to be something where you understand the words being said, but you can definitely feel your spirit being touched. Kids need that every week.
The whole reason why I'm writing this post is because this is something that I've struggled with. Why am I even going to church when WE are not getting anything out of it? Grant and I are either walking around trying to get Andrew asleep, or trying to distract him in class so he won't get frustrated. Since I'm working with the Young Women, Grant is kind enough to take Andrew during the 3rd hour. He rarely hears an entire Elder's Quorum lesson, and spends much of his time in the back while Andrew crawls around. I then realized that I've been focusing too much on ME, and not enough on Andrew. As I've started to change my focus, my Sundays have been so much better. Nothing has really changed. Grant and I still don't hear much of talks or lessons (just like every other parent), but I've been content to realize that I'm doing an important work in helping my kids establish these important patterns.
So, if you're in the same boat as me and you've been struggling too, just know you're not alone :) You are helping to establish an important pattern that will shape your kids testimonies and lives. This stage of life is hard because it will be a while before you can see the rewards of your diligence, but I know that they will come. I'm grateful that we get to go to church every week, and even though I don't hear much of anything, I'm grateful for the spirit I feel, for the chance to renew my baptismal covenants, and for the patterns that I'm instilling in my children.