Sundays are hard.
I strive for it to be the sabbath day of rest God intends for me, but sometimes it feels more like the finish line of an emotional marathon. It is not pretty. I crash, because it’s the one day a week I can. It’s the one day I can play emotional catch up for all the suppressing, just-get-through-it-ness I’ve had to do the previous six days.
Attending church helps me feel closer to the spirit which heals my heart. But that closeness to the divine can also intensify the pain. Feeling the spirit almost acts like a flashlight, pointing out the deep emotional wounds that are still so fresh. Going to church has felt like a burden at times- I have to physically arrive at a designated place at a certain time where I’m guaranteed to cry and feel like a mess. And I get to go through all that emotional turmoil publicly, in front of people I know!
I’ve found some solutions. I sit in the back. The very back. I sit alone. I bring pens or markers to doodle or color with. Or I bring something to crochet (i’m 80 years old, can you tell?) (Ok, I’m not. But you’d never know it!) as I’ve found that keeping my hands busy clears my mind and focuses my feelings. I can still partake in the spiritual nourishment of sacrament meeting, but I don’t get dragged under by the turmoil that can occupy my mind in those quiet moments.
Particularly at the start of our separation, attending church alone was incredibly painful. For one, It felt like there was a huge spotlight on me and it was embarrassing. And two, those three hours were hyper emotional. Everything said over the pulpit or in a lesson seemed to speak to my circumstance. Even feeling the spirit in a positive, affirming way led to tears and heartache, which then added to the embarrassment of crying alone on the back row, and the cycle just continued…
Everything now is in such stark contrast to what it was before. We always sat in the first 6 or so pews, together, and next to friends. We sang hymns together. We wrote and took notes during the meetings, we whispered ideas and plans to each other. We met up after our classes and held hands out the door then made our way home together. Together together together. Now everything is so very much alone. I arrive alone, I leave alone. I come home alone and spend the rest of the quiet day alone.
I’ve found some solutions to this too. I often meet up with my friend for lunch immediately after church gets out. This weekly catch up and bonding time is a welcome balm for my heart. And takes up important time on these long Sundays. I try to take my dog to the park for extended periods of time in the afternoon. I save some craft project for Sundays when I know I can commit to it.
In the past five months, my capacity to get through three hours of church has improved. I’ve accepted my experience for what it is and now do what I need to to be present and uplifted by my attendance. I can now stay for all three hours and in the past few weeks, I’ve even felt brave enough to participate again. I go for me, for my communion with the Lord, to take the sacrament and renew my covenants. In some ways, getting dressed and out the door shows me that I can do hard things. And even- being able to show up in front of people who know something about my circumstance helps convince me of my own strength. And I even wore heels, so that has to get me bonus points somewhere.
Wishing all of you restful, restorative Sabbaths, wherever you may be.