Today is Sunday. Every now and again, like a bolt out of the blue, I remember what Sundays used to be like, and I am suddenly, abruptly, deeply grateful for where my path in life has led me.
Sundays used to be 3 long hours of church, followed by scripture study and home teachers. Sundays used to be itchy nylons or too-hot tights, dresses that never seemed to fit quite right and either slid up too short on my thighs when I sat down or hung, long and hot and heavy, over my calves during the summer months Sundays used to be nice shoes that pinched after several hours.
Sundays used to be rushing around the house, everyone trying to get ready, and slipping shamefacedly into church 5-15 minutes late. They used to be feeling guilty because I couldn’t afford paying tithing and my rent, feeling unworthy because I was angry or irritated with my dad or sister or brother (or late, husband or son).
They used to be sitting in the foyer, bouncing a crying infant on my hip, feeling frazzled and tired and stressed out, trying to listen to the talk and figure out what I could fix for dinner that night and smiling politely when some female ward member came up right when my son fell asleep and tickling him under the chin while enthusing, “What a cutie!” — and walking away to let me deal with my again-crying son.
They used to be a chore, and I felt guilty and horrible and awful and certain that I was doing something wrong, that I was wrong, because I didn’t manage it all smoothly and sauvely. Because I didn’t have my family at church 5 minutes early; because when it came to rent or tithing, my faith wasn’t stronger than my pragmatism.
Because when I heard the exact same testimony every first Sunday of the month (I just want to say . . . I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of god. I had personal witness to this just this last week, when a ward member came by in my time of frustration and doubt and helped me, and I knew the church was true and god will always provide.). I would find myself nitpicking the testimony — You can’t know, my mind would whisper. You believe. You have faith. There’s a difference between knowing and having faith.
Then I would feel guilty and wrong and out-of-step again, because I was certain no one else in the congregation nit-picked the semantics of a testimony. I would tell myself, “This is why god doesn’t witness to you; you don’t have enough faith.” And I would pay my tithing because it was faith-building, and we would be late on our rent and overdraft our account.
Then, in the next F&T meeting, someone would talk about how they had paid their tithing and not had enough for groceries or bills or something, and how a stranger/ friend/ family member had come to their assistance without being asked or told about the situation, and how god will always bless his children if they pay their tithing, and I would think about our overdrafted bank account and my husband working two jobs to pay the bills, and I just wanted to cry.
They were guilt-ridden, miserable years, where I constantly felt like a failure; like no matter how hard I tried I would never live up to these impossible standards; like I was a failure in god’s eyes. I would come home upset and stressed out from dealing with a wiggly infant for 3 hours, from having to carpool to and from church, from the discomfort of my church clothes, and my husband would be asleep on the couch. He would be in his suit, having arrived home from work, gotten ready for church, and realized that there was only 20 minutes left until it ended.
We would bicker and argue, and the day would be spent in a distant, frustrated silence, both of us feeling neglected and misunderstood.
Now when Sunday comes, it’s my husband’s day off. We go have family time together, now. We go fishing or crabbing or camping, or go to the beach or a museum or restaurant. We laugh and joke and play, and we’re closer as a family for it. I wear dresses if I feel like it now, not because I have to. I sleep in on Sundays and wake slowly and naturally, with my husbands arms curled around me and his face nuzzled in my shoulder blades. On the first Sunday of the month I eat breakfast, like I do every day — no “fasting” (re: starving myself) and dealing with the migraines I’ve suffered since pregnancy whenever my blood sugar drops too low.
I love Sundays now. Now they’re a family day, a day to relax and recharge, a day to appreciate the world, my family, and my life.