I’ve been busy trying to get my walking down, and I have been tired.
Too tired to write!
And that’s when I know something’s out of balance (besides my “gait” which is, according to my doctor, in need of improvement. That’s right, ladies, my gait. It’s like I’m an old mare!), because writing is my one thing I do besides momma and wife and I need it or I start to sink.
So, I am writing tonight…
Maybe I wasn’t even too tired. Maybe I just felt like I didn’t have anything to say.
(That would be a first!)
Our family was the recipient of another disease contracted from church…this time it was Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.
We can’t keep doing this.
Because when Noah gets sick, it’s scary.
So, I am not sure what to do.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how much I love the gospel, and I love going to church, but how stressful it is on Sunday.
Not going to the temple. Not visiting church historical sites. Not living the gospel (although it can be quite stressful, it’s doable on a daily basis–I have my little moments of divine in the midst of the mundane). Nope. Those things are all nice and wonderful and uplifting and relatively easy.
Sundays are the most difficult, stress inducing day of the week.
And, believe me, I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried preparing ahead of time. I’ve tried making all my meals ahead of time. I’ve tried praying, fasting, getting blessings…and Sunday is still killing me.
Sundays are difficult for most big families, but throw in two special needs kids and a temporarily disabled mother and…
Well, it’s scary, ladies.
Every Sunday, my daughter with Asperger’s starts the day off with either a) a migraine, b) crying, or c) a migraine and crying, or d) throwing up from a migraine and crying.
That’s just the beginning.
Usually, someone is sick. Usually, Noah hasn’t slept the night before, because he NEVER sleeps through the night. Ever.
He is 2 1/2 years old and he is still getting up twice a night because of pain and other issues. It’s exhausting to deal with that and Addie Jayne, who also doesn’t sleep through the night because she is only 4 months old. And Daniel who is only 15 months old.
Finally, church is at 2 pm. Right during Noah’s witching hour and the babies’ afternoon naptime.
And then, there is me. Some Sundays I’m walking, some Sundays I can’t move my left leg without intense pain…sometimes it takes 45 minutes to move it. Grrrrrrrrr…..and then I get upset.
I think, “Hello, heaven–what’s going on here? Okay, granted, I am not an angel, but I have tried to do everything right….Where are you?!?!?!?!? I AM TRYING TO GO TO CHURCH HERE!!!!!”
Church also gives me the SMeE headache event, which means after church I feel like I am dying and I have to lie down. Which usually throws off Monday morning. It’s a “challenge”. (That’s the Mormon word for something that is really awful but we don’t want to sound negative.)
So, we all got Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, which, by the way, in some cases, can turn into Viral Meningitis. No matter that it’s rare, it caused all of us A LOT of stress and worry.
Tons of stress.
All because Ephraim’s classmate at church was contagious and I found out recently licks other student’s faces.
We can’t even let him go to Sunbeams now, unless John or I sit there with him, because we can’t afford another virus. Noah was a moment away from the ER last time and I won’t do it again. Not to mention we missed three weeks of church while this thing made its rounds among us.
Sometimes I wish church was not segregated into age groups. It just doesn’t work well when you have immunocompromised or special needs children. Maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet. I mean, does anyone out there have a solution, because I am interested in knowing how I can make this work.
Most of the time, I feel like I am on the periphery of worshiping, like the poor Zoramites who got kicked out of their synagogues because they didn’t look right, or act right, or wear the right clothes.
I mean, the scripture for me could read:
I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye.
9 Behold thy sister hath said, What shall we do?—for we are cast out of our classrooms and chapels, and into the mother’s room and hallways that we cannot worship our God.
10 Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your classrooms only?
11 And moreover, I would ask, do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only once in a week?
12 I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your classrooms, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding nursing infants and special needs children and overzealous toddlers, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble.
I feel like I’m on the periphery of worshiping because my family is weird.
I recently read on some popular Mormony blog where people were making fun of moms whose young women stayed with them or wouldn’t go to class…like the mom was being overprotective or something. Here is a message for all you people-who-read-popular-funny-blogs-and-comment-and-try-to-be-witty-but-are-a-little-snide (and hey, I’ve been there, too–I’ve been snide and sarcastic–not commenting on popular blogs–I’m not cool enough for that…. ):
Maybe there is a reason the girls don’t want to go to young women and want to be with their mom.
Maybe their mom almost died a few months ago, and they want to be with her.
Maybe their mom spends a lot of time with their special needs brother who is in the hospital a lot and Sunday is the only day they get to see a lot of her without him.
Maybe they are special needs and don’t feel comfortable (NOT BECAUSE THE YOUNG WOMEN DIDN’T OFFER FRIENDSHIP AND A PLATE OF COOKIES! IT IS NOTED THAT YOU ALL ARE AWESOME AND LOVING), because of their own issues and it is really difficult for their mom to deal with anyway.
Maybe there are lots of reasons….
I don’t know. The more I learn about people, the more I see that there are lots and lots of people who are hurting–who have, I guess you would say, special needs, even if it isn’t diagnosed or physical or readily discernible. And, sometimes, they don’t want cookies, or even your help. Sometimes they just want…mercy. Understanding. Love.
The more I try to navigate Sunday worship, the more I realize I am just going to have to change the way I thought about Sunday and church and everything.
A lot of people like to quote Elder Holland and other apostles when they compare the church to a hospital, but do we really believe it?
I’m telling you, that’s what I feel like church really is.
It’s a hospital for sinners to come and try to pull themselves together and get spiritual antibiotics for the rest of the week.
Okay, so for those of you who just like to quote this quote (ahem, I am looking hard at all you commenters from those popular, cool Mormon blogs), but haven’t been to a hospital lately, may I remind you a few things about hospitals that you may have forgotten:
1) The more the hospital administration tries to streamline the healing process, the less healing it is. I think you can get my meaning here.
2) People in the greatest need of healing at a hospital usually look AWFUL. Also, they may not have showered in a while. Not saying that I don’t shower before church, but sometimes, I’m doing good just to get there. I’m not kidding. I’m sometimes wrinkles, a mess, and spit up stains on my clothes. But, I really want to take the sacrament, so I don’t get a shower beforehand.
3) When you assign people to be “compassionate” it doesn’t work as well as when they know the person well and come visit of their own free will and choice. Sometimes, the assigned person can be completely wrong for the situation and says some of the most ridiculous things that can actually come across as hurtful… When the assigned dietician comes in without knowing your chart first and says “Would you like a milkshake today?” when you have just been told you can’t have milkshakes that day it can be devastating in a hospital. Believe me, it can cause tears to be shed.
Also, a plate of cookies does not solve most problems. It’s a beautiful gesture and is appreciated, but it doesn’t really help, especially if no one can eat them because of special needs diets.
(Now, perhaps a plate of Lindt truffles, or Rittersport, or imported Belgian chocolate may help someone in the family. Just sayin’.)
4) It’s good to stay at the hospital, but at some point, you need to go home. Healing can’t take place fully until you step outside of the building and into the air and life.
Sometimes three hours seems like an eternity in there. Sometimes, I actually just take the littles outside to breathe in the fresh air and get out of the perfume and the loud talking and the Sunday smiles….it can almost feel claustrophobic to me.
5) If done right, hospitals can save your life. (If done wrong…well…) So can the gospel.
Anyway, I don’t know where I am going with this. It’s just hard, that’s all.
But, it’s true. And it’s not going to shake my faith because it’s hard and it’s a hospital.
Maybe someday I’ll graduate from being a patient to becoming a healer in the hospital that is our church. I think that would be funner. I want to be that–the healer. I think we’ve been in the intensive care unit for long enough–but I am not sure I’ll ever graduate to healer.
For now, I think our family is just weird, and we’re all over the map with all kinds of exceptional circumstances. Oh, how I wish I could be not the exception!
I think I just need to come to grips with the reality of the hospital-ness of the Sunday worship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I mean, we are gathered together in “wards” JUST LIKE A HOSPITAL. I may be on to something!
Elder Holland’s exact words were:
I remind you that the Church is not a monastery for the isolation of perfect people. It is more like a hospital provided for those who wish to get well.
I wish we could all realize the reality of those words. That hospitals smell weird. They are sometimes uncomfortable. That there are people with wounds and people with problems and people with all sorts of things going on there. That we should try to speak softly there so people can heal. (I know that my kids would probably not have so many melt downs if the adults weren’t so loud. I know we are all happy to see each other, but it IS a hospital, after all.)
And finally, that hospitals are full of people who need one thing more than anything else: compassion.
It’s not so different from Sunday. Luckily, I am in a very compassionate ward right now. I think they get that we are going through something, and they get that we are going through it privately. But, they offer compassion. It’s nice.
I guess I just need to let go of that last little bit of pride and vanity that said I would have it all together on Sunday as a sign that I was trying–as a reflection of the fact that I loved the gospel.
Every talk about denim skirts on Sunday, flip flops, being late, etcetera, pierces my heart when I walk into the church at half past the hour in my denim looking skirt with my sandals and dressy t-shirt because that’s what I had that was clean (also big, ruffly denim skirts are modest and you can sit down in them on the floor comfortably)…along with my kids in who knows what and the fifteen month old barefoot because we could not for the life of us find his shoes! (Of course, they were later to be found in a decorative flower vase because that is just where they should have been…)
I mean, other people say, “It’s only for a few years,” or “It won’t last forever,” or “It’s just a season,” but I’ve been doing this for nigh on 20 years! I mean–that’s a long winter, if you ask me. Maybe for other people it’s only a “season,” but for me it’s like in Narnia when the White Witch came–it’s always winter and never Christmas!
(Really, I haven’t heard the full verbiage of Christmas Devotional in almost two decades).
And, I still have a long way to go. Sometimes, I wonder if it really isn’t like what Alma was saying to the Zoramites.
Are we gifted with this time in the mother’s room, or the parking lot, or wandering the hallways like lost souls because it will humble us and help us to realize that our worship must come from somewhere within?
That we need to be stripped of all that pride and vanity of “looking good on Sunday,” because there is nothing like a special needs child, a brush with death and mobility issues, and 11 children to strip you of that particular vanity. I wonder…
13 And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.
I think the trick for me is to not get hung up in the overwhelming exhaustion and the seemingly sameness of the endless days and nights of care and the worry and the frustration, but to take one day at a time and to remember that there is hope. Even if things don’t look like I thought they would.
The other day, I was at the grocery store listening to two friends who had gotten together to go shopping. They each had one of those little baskets you can carry around. When I go shopping, I need two carts and a forklift. I don’t “get together” with a friend to go grocery shopping. It isn’t enjoyable. It’s an epic ordeal which often involves crying. Usually from me.
They were chatting about how they were going to make this amazing salmon and watch a movie and have fun. They were commiserating about how long it had taken to get their little goodies for their gourmet dinner they were about to make without interruption.
For a moment, I have to admit, I was envious.
I wondered what it would be like to have that life. To not have to worry. To not have to always be on the job…to hear the clock ticking…to make a gourmet dinner for fun…to get out for fun…
And if I didn’t know that this wasn’t it–that there wasn’t life beyond this mortality, I might be envious, still. I might feel a bit put out. But, I don’t. I really don’t. President Faust said it best when he said:
For those who have asked, “Why did this happen to me?” or, “Why did this happen to my child?” there is assurance that the difficulty will not last forever. Life on this earth is not long. Caring for the unfortunate and laboring with the wayward is a manifestation of the pure love of Christ. For those who carry such a challenge in this life, God himself provides a response. That response is patience and the strength to endure. It lies, as Paul and Job testify, “in hope of eternal life, … promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2), “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:7.)
The morning stars sang for me–and it wasn’t because I could chat it up and make a gourmet dinner every night for 20 years. It was because they knew I would have these challenges and it would be hard and difficult, but I would not lose my faith. I would still love God and love His church and believe in its truthfulness, in spite of the fact that the administration of the gospel on earth can tend to be hospitalish and sometimes the most difficult part of the whole process.
It’s humbling. It’s heartrending. It’s painful. It’s soul wrenching in a very mundane, boring, unexciting, average way. But, it really is amazingly beautiful what He is doing with me.
He is taking a big lump of clay and trying to fashion me into something incredible. And this is how He has chosen to do it. I guess for some it is gourmet dinners. For me, it is this.
I’ll take it. I will humble myself and I will endure, even if it kills me, which apparently it won’t because I’m still here, in spite of Mr. SMeE. So, I guess tonight my writing is a kind of venting and rolling up my sleeves kind of writing because…well, here I go! I am going to bed and I am going to listen for the morning stars and somehow, I think I will be able to hear them singing…
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