Monday, November 3, 2008

November Gratitude

Last year, I posted a few gratitude blogs to usher in the Thanksgiving season. I only made it to 10 entries, which isn't too bad, considering most months I barely make 6 or 7 entries. Compared to how often I've been posting lately, that is a positive landslide.

Anyhow, I want to do it again this year. I think it made last year's Thanksgiving that much sweeter, realizing that I had many days of saying thanks rather than just one. I'd like to add a twist, though, and try to write about the ways I feel that I've grown in my many rolls as a mother, wife, and human being.

So I want to start this off with how grateful I am that I've grown in my faith. I was raised LDS, and I was very active through junior high and into high school. During junior high, my school friends were my church friends. I was transitioning from my years in gymnastics where I had few school friends due to a lack of time to spend with anyone who didn't flip upside down on a frequent basis. One night, a few weeks after I had broken an ankle, I stopped at a local pizza parlor with my mom to pick up a pizza. A group of girls from church were all eating and laughing together and invited me to join them for pizza and a movie. I joined them for the evening, and it changed my life. Suddenly I had friends that I was in church with, who were good girls and encouraged me to do things that kept me active in the church. One of them, Rebecca, would become my lifelong friend, my bridesmaid, my confidant.

As friends came in and out of our little group, Rebecca and I stayed friends. I slowly drifted away from church as the girls I was close to moved or changed wards. Finally I was the only girl in my Young Women's class. I refused to go to Young Women; in fact, I never set foot in YW during the entire time I would have been a Laurel. I kept going to Seminary until half way through my junior year, when I dropped out. I don't think it's much of a coincedence that I first smoked a cigarette within weeks of dropping seminary.

I look back at the next few years of my life as some of the best years, despite my inner conflicts with not going to church. I came back to church when I was 19, but I wouldn't be truly converted until after I had children. To come back, I truly had to DECIDE what I wanted. The first year that Shane and I were married, I went to church once, 10 months after we had been living in the ward, and 2 months before we would move out of it. Once I moved into my house, though, I had people who came to visit teach me, who were my age and who seemed to care whether I showed up on Sunday or not. They watched my baby steps back into activity: first, relief society, then an enrichment board member, later a primary teacher. It took me over 2 years to go to sacrament for the first time, and still another year and a half to go consistently, hiding in the back recesses of the building.

Now I sit on the front row. I never envisioned myself as a front-row sitter. I don't take pride or think it's in any way special to sit in the front row. It's just our seat. My kids can see who speaks and maybe hear a few of their words. I can listen a little better. Church is just what we do now.

But personally, for me, it has grown to be something that I cherish. Even the weeks that I sit by myself in Sunday School, hiding the words I scrawl into my journal. Even the weeks when my kids fight over toys and beg to go get a drink. And especially the weeks when I leave uplifted and grateful to have learned about the Savior.

I guess I'm most grateful that I know why I go every week. I no longer go to make sure that my visiting teacher sees me so she won't think I'm struggling. Or because I feel an obligation to pass on the tradition to my children. Or because I know it will make my mom happy. Or so that my husband can have some alone time to watch football and iron. I know it is where I want to be. It is where I choose to be.

I'm grateful that I was able to make that choice.


Anonymous said...

We will always be friends. I'm very thankful you are in my life. You have always been a great friend to me. Love you, Rebecca

Lucy said...

I can feel your strength through your words. I'm glad you wrote this, for I understand you that much more. I think you're pretty awesome, Becky:)

Jeanette said...

Now I'm feeling guilty for all the weeks I have left you sitting alone. I wish I had as much strength as you do, but most weeks even thinking about going to church wears me out.

I want to be better, all week I say I am going to be better, then sunday comes and I just can't do it.

I'm trying though, I promise.

Isabel said...

Great post, Becky. Thanks for sharing.

Amy Sorensen said...

I never heard the story about the pizza experience. I pictured it inside the Pizza Hut, where I had a few significant experiences of my own, although none of them brought me back to church! I loved reading that story and thinking about the contrast between your friends and mine.

I think we all have to go through our own personal conversion. You can only live on your parents' testimony, or on the tradition, for so long. Sooner or later you have to go because YOU want to be there. I LOVED this post!

Janssen said...

What a great great post - good for you for going and being responsible for getting something out of it. You are a lovely example.

Jeff and Kayci Bitton said...

What a great story! I love that you do this=)

Ginger said...

Sometimes I think that living away from the church and having our own personal conversion experience can be a great way to appreciate the church and to really know what it is like to live life one way then be converted and you are a perfect example of that and a perfect example to all of us. Thanks for sharing!

Melanie said...

You already know that I completely understand how you feel. And I agree. I go to church now because I know how important it is and because I want to. Most of the time I go in spite of pressure not to. It's so different from going because that's what my parents expected. I too am grateful for the strength I am gaining, even though it's not the easiest path.