yesterday was our church's stake conference. which just means all the neighborhood "wards" got together at once for general instruction instead of meeting separately. all of the speakers were good but as I sat on my bed after church I started to take stock on what I enjoy in a church talk and what I don't enjoy.
this is a small attempt to capture it.
what I enjoy in a church talk is inspiration. I want to be inspired to be better, to feel more love for myself and others, to learn something from their experience or a story, to feel more, to be stretched. I don't mind a few laughs here and there either. the only way to get to a person through inspiration is relatability, if they can't relate to you, they can't feel anything. the best way to keep things relatable is to not share too much personal information, and be very selective about the stories you do share, if they are personal. it's a fine line.
what I don't enjoy in a church talk, and I'm not talking about monotone voice, I can get over that easy (I listen to audiobooks almost as a job ok?) is too much personal stuff, or too many examples of what "you do". honestly? no one really cares what you do about religious stuff. unless you are mother Theresa, or our prophet, and guess what? neither of them share very many personal examples of what they do. well, at least they never do in a preachy way. Neither did Jesus, he never preached with fear, shame or guilt.
yes, that's the word I'm looking for..."preaching". no one wants to be preached to. and even if you have a good story or example or parable, if it's secretly wrapping up a preaching sermon, people can smell that miles away. much like wrapping up a dog turd in a bunch of sweet smelling papers and flowers and febreze. eventually they find out what's underneath it, poop. even if the preaching has good intentions, "to motivate" people to change or get them to see things your way. again, all preaching.
because here's the thing, NO ONE likes to be told something they already know they should be doing, yup, no one.
now don't get me wrong, I don't feel like anyone was outright preaching yesterday, and I can only imagine how hard it is to prepare a talk like that and give it to hundreds of people. but there was just too many examples of what these people do "religiously" with their families. and I felt weird inside.
luckily I bumped into some of my neighbors that were there and asked, 'Is it just me, or did you leave conference feeling like a loser with a whole NEW list of resolutions you need to be doing with your family?". luckily, they all exhaled and said, "YES! me too!".
I knew it could be just where I am personally and that I was being sensitive. it wouldn't be a first time you know? but there is a tender spot with moms about raising your children and teaching them how to be "spiritual" people.
I want my kids to know who they are. I want them to feel God's love and acceptance for them allowing them to love themselves totally and completely, therefore making them totally awesome loving and empathetic people.
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS PERFECTLY
or how to do it well, at all.
but I do know that I am more spiritually minded and have a closer connection with God than I ever have in my entire life. I know that I love and accept people and myself more every day because of this beautiful, divine and sacred connection. I know that after a lifetime of avoiding the holy scriptures and prayer, I now crave it and look forward to the guidance every day. I know that I want that for my kids (and everyone ) too. I also know that I can't give it to them. The mysteries of God must be searched for and taught, individually, and only through the spirit. I can't do anything by myself to lead my children to choose righteousness. They have to choose it.
I can lead by example, and I'm working hard on that.
We held family "study" time last night, as of last week our church has deleted an entire hour of gospel instruction on Sundays. this makes it awesome for my Sunday nap schedule, but also a bigger mental burden for me to be the "teacher". yes, I know I was supposed to be this all along, but now it's really real ok?
The lesson wasn't perfect, it was rough. the kids fought it. in the end it worked out. and we definitely have a lot of role playing and games in future lessons to hold their attention.
but you know what? we did it. we tried. and that's all that matters.
I think what the other people do for their families is great...for them. and sometimes I do get good ideas of what to do for my family, but I've realized every time something has been implemented and worked successfully for our family is because I saw it FIRSTHAND. it's not from something someone told me. every.single.time I've tried to do something for my kids or home or relationship from what a "friend" does, it has failed. and failed miserably I might add.
now I have learned new things from books that totally work, and I still use them. but whenever I'm coming from comparison, or catching up, or trying to be a "better" person it goes down in multicolored flames.
so what do I like in a church talk? STORIES. really good stories, like yesterday the story about eyeballs being blinded by flying explosion glass. my kids were all on the edge's of their seats. parables, you know, like how the Savior taught? because a parable has hundreds of meanings, and I can take out of it what I want, when I'm ready. it really is so beautiful.
and I don't know why I even wrote or shared this post, because I've tried to stay positive and uplifting in all my writing, and I know those people didn't purposefully wrap up "preaching" in little examples and stories. As my mom always says, "they meant well." I realize that that's where they are with their learning, that's how they are motivated and there is no shame in where we all are.
I do know I am no longer am motivated by fear, comparison, or proving myself. I no longer am motivated by the rush that if I don't do everything perfect right now, today, then I've failed.
I'm now motivated by love, patience and slow deliberate actions through daily awareness. Does that make me better? Nope. Just in a different place. We are all learning through doing.
And when we know better, we do better.
but also don't worry about not liking preaching. you aren't alone.