That Your Burdens May Be Light
Yesterday was so busy! I missed my family post on Friday...
Sometimes the days go too fast!
Originally I was going to write about service today. I've been thinking about that during my reading this week.
But, today I got to snuggle a little baby at church, and oh how I loved it!
When I gave him back to his mom, we both thanked each other. I loved holding him and she was grateful I took him because her husband wasn't there today. She told me she doesn't know how I do it, it's hard to bring kids to church alone. I told her it's easy as they get older. She let me know that she thought it was hard even before she had her baby (she has 2 other boys).
It's true, it can be hard, and that isn't the first time I've heard that.
So, I've thought about that today...
For those of you who aren't of the LDS faith let me fill you in...
We go to church for 3 hours on Sundays. Our first meeting is a little over an hour long, and we are together as families for this meeting. This is the meeting in which we partake of the sacrament (much like communion in the Catholic faith).
The second hour we separate and the adults go to Gospel Doctrine where we study the scriptures and doctrines of our faith. The kids go to Primary. They also learn gospel doctrine, in a way that is, of course, geared to their age. They are split into age groups and go to classes.
The third hour we adults divide again and meet just as women, and just as men. The kids also switch and participate in a lesson all together, they also have singing time.
If you walk past an LDS meeting house as it's patrons are first entering, you may see each mother lugging in any number of bags! :) We come armed for that first hour! It is a time to be reverent. Of course it's a challenge for little people, who wiggle and giggle, and want to run and play. So we haul in books, paper, a small snack, anything quiet that will help encourage reverence.
As much as we try... sometimes it just doesn't work! It's nice to have a partner to help wrangle kids if they need it, to exit with them if they need a gentle reminder!
It's nice to have a partner, but not all of us do.
In my own story Matt left the church before I had my two little boys. I took the two bigger one's and they were old enough that it didn't feel so hard. I was sad, but it wasn't 'hard'.
Then I had a baby O. He stayed at home with M for the first while and I took the bigger kids to church. Then I shortly had another baby E. I left them both home while we went to church. They are so small, it doesn't really mean anything to them right?
At 18 months the little kiddies can go into the nursery during the last 2 hours of church. They have play time, singing time and even lesson time. Even after O turned 18 months I left him home. It was just easier.
Then I felt it. All of my kids need to be at church. They do get it! They do understand. And, even if they don't have words or don't know doctrine, there is a feeling at church, that only comes from going. It's also important to set a standard, to form a habit. I felt very strong that it was time. I had to suck it up and bring them to church with me. It was important to me.
Again, the last two hours are manageable if everyone is in a class. It's that first hour and fifteen minutes that is the challenge. I was anxious about taking them. I wasn't sure how we'd do, or if anyone sitting near us would be anything but distracted! It was like having twins, basically, that are very small, and both need a lap to sit on and a soft whisper and an activity.
I did it though, because I knew it was right.
I found that if I could keep my two little guys separate that we had a chance to sit through our meeting! I don't like going out of the chapel, I feel like they are totally capable of sitting reverent.
I'm not going to lie, it wasn't always easy.
In fact I remember a time that I was sitting near the front of our congregation and I felt like all eyes were on me (because sometimes you just do). Both boys were struggling and I was flustered trying to help them both. The woman behind me leaned forward and said something like 'it gets so much easier as they get older, I remember my kids being loud'... something like that.
It wasn't offensive, in fact I think she was trying to console me in a way.
On that day, my burden felt heavy, and her words actually hurt me. I felt so incapable of doing it by myself, and her leaning forward was obvious proof that I was not successful.
I remember looking straight ahead, thankful I was on the second row as the tears welled up and fell from my eyes. I tried to be oh so discreet in wiping them away.
In Mosiah 24 the prophet Alma and his people are in bondage, their burdens are heavy and they cry to God. Amulon commands them all to stop praying and puts anyone to death who prays.
12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
Heavenly Father didn't lift these faithful people up and out of their situation. He didn't change the circumstance for them. BUT, he did not leave them. In fact he gave to them. He sustained and strengthened them through it. They could no longer feel their burdens.
When people ask me today how I do it, or tell me they admire me for bringing my kids to church alone I don't really have a response for them.
You would do it right? Knowing that it's your responsibility to teach your little one's you'd do it right? Would your faith get them to church? Yes, you would.
And, the burden has felt heavy at times, but this I know... Even though I've not always prayed for it the Lord has lifted my burden. Today there is no 'burden'. We go to church because it makes us happy, because it's a commandment, we love it... it's just what we do.
The kids have gotten older and that has lifted the burden too! The older kids have been so helpful with the younger two. They still get shushed, we still have to bring things to keep them busy, but it isn't hard to take my kids to church by myself.
Now, the scripture study, prayer, FHE, scouts, activity days... all of that gets a little heavy sometimes, but we do our best. That is all that is asked. I rely on the Lord to make up the difference where I lack.
The Lord has definitely given me strength, I see His hand in my life and I thank him.
I never do it alone, I never have.