I got a phone call yesterday (Sunday) from a Young Man in the ward of whom I really think very highly.
He is just one of those really neat kids who already has had to face some real challenges in his life but seems to be able to handle them graciously and maturely (much to the credit of his great mom, I believe).
He called me to invite me to come to Sacrament meeting. He said he was giving a talk and it would really mean a lot to him if I came to listen to him. I haven’t talked to him in a while, so I have to admit I was caught by surprise.
So, after more than 2 years enjoying my Sundays outside, I went against my better judgment and got my nice clothes on (no, I didn’t wear a suit… it looks like one way God has punished me for leaving church is by adding some fat around my waist).
We walked in to Sacrament a little late, which felt very familiar. I received a few welcoming looks from some familiar faces, but soon realized I didn’t recognize about half of the ward.
My boys quickly got busy with their toys on the floor and my wife seemed mildly interested in the talks while she fumbled around with her class material and toys and snacks.
I quickly realized that most of the ones invited to give talks were youth returning from various camps and sharing their experiences and bearing their testimonies. My young friend similarly stood up and followed suit and seemed especially passionate about his testimony, nearing a mild insult (and I’m sure unintentionally) when he said those without the spirit are empty inside.
He came up to me afterward to thank me for coming and a small army of people followed after him, some genuinely excited to see me and some disturbingly overreaching in making me feel welcome and needed.
At times I felt compelled to sincerely answer the “Why don’t you come to church anymore?” questions, but the grown men around me with tears still lingering in their eyes would most definitely unwelcome my telling them I believe the whole thing to be a huge, fat lie.
In the midst of handshakes, my wife was gone to her class, my youngest took his girlfriend’s hand into nursery, and my 6-year-old would most definitely be found sitting in the back of the Primary class, next to the leaders.
Part of me wanted to go home and watch Brazil beat the US for the Confederation Cup in an amazing come-back in the second half, but part of me (the not-so-wise part, I guess) decided to go hang out at Primary to see what my boy was being taught.
The lesson today was about forgiveness. A great topic, I admit, and one with which we all struggle from time to time. After they break for class, I decided I had had enough and went home to discover the game had not been recorded in my dvr (God’s punishment?) and I had missed it completely.
All in all, it was an uncomfortable experience and I figured I’m good for at least 2 more years or more.
It was different seeing the day unfold through the eyes of reason and reality. Without the lenses of blind belief, most of what was said seemed very empty and misguided.
I think I would have got more out of the football match.