Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Sabbath

This is my second Sabbath-themed blog post.  I wrote the first over four years ago.

Recently, the LDS (aka "Mormon") Church has been strongly emphasizing Sabbath Day Observance.  I am actually quite in favor of this, especially since it's preferable to a lot of the other things the LDS Church tends to strongly emphasize (cough--traditionalfamilies--cough).  Over the past few weeks, I've thought a lot about what how I am spending my Sundays and what I can do to make them a little more special and sacred.  I don't go shopping or participate in "worldly" activities on Sundays; I often spend the afternoons/evenings with my boyfriend as we cook dinner together; I even try to watch less TV (my exceptions/foils include "The Great British Baking Show" or a really good SVU marathon).  There has been one small hitch in my aspirations to become more Sabbath-appropriate, however.

I kind of hate church.*

I don't think I always hated church.  I mean, I was never the type of person who would be like "Sunday is my favorite day ever because I get to go to church and feel the spirit and stuff!" (mostly because I've never been the type of person who...felt the spirit and stuff), but over the past few years, church has been difficult.  I don't know why, exactly.  Maybe it's because I don't fit in in my ward and it's hard to not fit in when you're in close proximity to a bunch of people who fit in really well (and the crippling social anxiety doesn't help much, I'm sure).  Maybe it's because the building is always too cold and I'm always starving by the end, and physical discomfort often fuels my rage toward most things.  Maybe it's a bunch of boring reasons that nobody wants to read.

I don't want to stop going to church (I've never actually skipped church and have rarely been tempted to do so).  The problem comes from staying at church.  I can usually make it through the Sacrament before the desire to escape overwhelms me.  Having a boyfriend to sit with in Sunday School has been really helpful, but after that, I am racing toward the bus stop to head home and feeling instant relief once I return to my apartment.  But with that relief comes the gnawing feeling that something must be fundamentally wrong with my spiritual self that I can't feel any peace during a communal worship service.

I fully understand that this peace probably comes from having the proper mindset during church or making efforts to have a positive experience.  (I'm sure this post will yield many comments like, "you get out of it what you put into it" and similar aphorisms).  But that advice only goes so far when the thing that is supposed to make you feel wonderful on the Sabbath puts you in the foulest mood of the whole week.

How can a positive church experience come from turning off my phone during church when sometimes, a text from my best friend in Baltimore is the only thing that makes me smile during Sacrament meeting?

How can it come from attending all of my church meetings when I feel more peace alone in my apartment cleaning my kitchen** on an early Sunday afternoon than I've ever felt in Relief Society?

And is going to church the best and only way I can feel close to God on the Sabbath?  Are more individual forms of worship preferable to hours of negative emotion in a congregation?

I'm writing this post for two-ish reasons.  The first is because I needed to write it down because if it's written down, it's real and tangible and I can understand it better than if I'm just thinking about it on the bus ride home from church.  The second is so other people can read it--people who can give me advice on what has helped them and people who feel like weirdos because they also hate church (of course, these groups are not mutually exclusive).

With that, I say happy Sabbath.

*Please note that when I say "church" I don't mean "The (LDS) Church."  I mean the building with the steeple where I go every Sunday with a bunch of other people.  This seems like a statement that was too important for a footnote, but I couldn't figure out where else to put it in the real text.
**Wiping the grease, gunk, and nonstick cooking spray droplets off of my stove often eclipses the Sacrament in necessity and frequency in my apartment.  Sometimes I have to do it two or three times in one day, and that kind of makes me feel like a traveling General Authority.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


I've recently learned something about myself:  I like planning things more than I like actually doing things.  Actually, I really love planning.

Maybe because the planning is easy.  Spreadsheets and lists and Pinterest boards are easy.  I can make a list without even getting out of bed or putting on real pants.  But doing things?  Most often, real pants are generally expected.

Doing things also, more often than not, requires other people.  Other people whom you can't control and who don't tell you what you want to hear when you put forth your plans to them.  Or people who are instrumental to your plans and whom you know will be totally on-board and supportive but who have to respond to your emails first.*

So I keep planning.  And because I love lists so freaking much, here's a list of some of the things I'm currently planning:

  • An informal "dinner party" for my boyfriend, his sister, her husband, and their four adorable children.  Thankfully I have lots of experience cooking for my picky sister, so finding something kid friendly that has very few tomatoes (because my boyfriend is a bit picky, too) shouldn't be too hard.  
  • The rest of my graduate career.  This one is a little less fun than a dinner party with a chubby baby, but involved lots of hardcore table-making.  I optimistically set myself to defend my (yet unwritten) dissertation two years from now, and I'm sure the laughter I will receive upon presenting this to my adviser will be epic.
  • A Fun Family Weekend in Pennsylvania in August.  For anyone who knows the Winks, the phrase "Fun Family Weekend" will probably be met with much skepticism and/or yet more epic laughter, but this will be the big "introduce the boyfriend to the parents" trip, and therefore we have to pretend we like doing things together.  So we'll probably go to the zoo.

I also plan to try to blog more.  Or to feel really bad about it when I don't blog as often as I'd like.  I hope to squeeze one more post out in stay tuned.