Sunday is a day of rest and a day of worship. However, there are some misconceptions that might cause unnecessary stress and anxiety on the Sabbath. In Mosiah 4:7 it reads, “for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.” Here are seven things that might make us run faster than we have strength and cause stress on the Sabbath.
1. We Need to Feel the Spirit Powerfully Every Week
I used to have a mentality that if I cannot feel the Spirit at church, there must be something wrong with me. However, many times the Spirit speaks to us in a way we may not realize and at times we do not expect. Instead of an overwhelming sense of peace flushing through our hearts or a life-changing answer to a prayer, the Spirit might speak to us through someone who smiles at you when you walk into the chapel or a memorable message you hear in sacrament meeting or the feeling you get when singing hymns at church.
A close friend gently reminded me that as a member of the Church we are promised to have the gift of the Spirit with us always—even when we do not feel its overwhelming influence.
In addition, there can be moments in our life when it is difficult for us to feel the Spirit. On the Church’s website about mental health, it reads, “Even Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, felt the Spirit withdraw for a time, but then God sent an angel to support Him. Consider for a moment that the Spirit may be communicating with you in a different way than you have experienced thus far in your life.”
2. We Need to Have a Big, Perfect Family Dinner on Sunday
You do not need to break out the family china and create a gourmet family dinner every Sunday. While eating as a family can bring everyone together on the Sabbath, the focus should be on each other, not on the food or production.
In “12 Ways to Rethink Your Sunday Routine," Lisa Lemich Sherman shared with LDS Living, “[A big dinner] doesn’t really fit in with our day of rest. Use up those leftovers!” Another LDS Living Facebook friend, Sarah Gailey Emke, agrees: “I’ve done away with the big Sunday dinner. We have whatever I can think of that is easiest. It also makes for less dishes—a definite plus!”
3. We Need to Spend More Time on Our Church Callings
Magnifying your calling does not necessarily mean we need to devote more time and energy to our callings. It means we need to follow inspiration to learn what the Lord would have us do—and sometimes that means simplifying our callings.
Elder Richard G. Scott said at a World Wide Leadership Training meeting in 2004, “May I give you a word of caution as you plan your activities. Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. . . . Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it.”
4. Every Talk or Lesson We Give Needs to Answer Prayers
Giving a sacrament meeting talk and Sunday school lesson can be challenging sometimes, especially when we hope our lesson and talk can be perfect and help answer someone else's questions.
However, we need to remember when we are asked to give a talk or a lesson, we are called to teach in the Savior's way, which means we are commanded to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ with the help of the Spirit. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost your listeners "can know the truth of all things."
In the Teaching in the Savior's Way manual, we are instructed, "Power to truly teach in His way will come as you learn of Him and follow Him. The invitation to teach in the Savior’s way truly is a key part of His invitation to 'come, follow me'” (Luke 18:22).
As a speaker and a teacher, the best thing we can do is to invite the Spirit into the room. By doing so we need to teach like the Savior did, live in His way, and love the people like He does. In short, we learn to teach like the Savior as we strive to become more like our Savior. So focus less on nitpicking over every word in your talk and focus more on how you can grow closer to the Spirit.
5. We Should Always Be on Time for Church
“The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church,” President Dallin H. Oaks said in a 2008 general conference talk. While we are encouraged to arrive at church early to better feel the Spirit and avoid feeling rushed, it is more important that we arrive at church with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. As President Russell M. Nelson instructed in a 2004 Ensign article, “We commemorate His Atonement in a very personal way. We bring a broken heart and a contrite spirit to our sacrament meeting. It is the highlight of our Sabbath-day observance.”
Some Sunday mornings are not ideal, and we should avoid becoming upset or discouraged with our children, spouse, or others when unexpected circumstances arise. The most important thing is that you and your family make it to church and partake of the sacrament—even if you arrive a few minutes late. Focus on keeping and following the Spirit on Sunday mornings, especially when your children or spouse might be testing your patience.
6. We Should Focus on Avoiding All the “Don’ts” on Sunday
Sunday is more than a day to avoid certain activities; rather it is a day we set aside to focus on glorifying God. President Russell M. Nelson said in April 2015 general conference, “When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.”
In his talk, President Nelson goes on to describe how we can make the Sabbath a delight through all the things we can do on that day, including strengthening family ties, doing family history work, serving others, etc.
7. We Should Come Away from Every Lesson with Something More We Can Do or Be
Sacrament meeting talks or lessons often encourage us to do more and be better, which can be motivating and uplifting. However, when our brain is fighting against us telling us that we will never be good enough or be righteous enough, sometimes these messages can create anxiety.
In “Avoiding Church Won't Help Your Anxiety: 3 Crucial Things Mormons with Anxiety Need to Understand” Kari Ferguson writes, “We are going to be really uncomfortable [at church]. Our anxiety might spike. We might feel like we cannot possibly do it. We might need to take some breaks and go take a walk outside or stay in the bathroom until we can go back into sacrament meeting. But we need to keep going if and when we can. We have to remember that avoidance will not make managing anxiety any easier.”
We need to remember that the Church is a gathering of imperfect people, just like you and me. There is no qualification for us to attend church. When anxiety or self-doubt strikes, we need to hold on to our testimony and know that it is not a sin for us to feel this way. Remember, God is patient with our progress and He is happy that we made the effort to attend church.
Instead of focusing on a list of what more we can do or be, we should focus on finding Jesus Christ and His grace in each lesson. It is through His perfections and His Atonement we are strengthened, so stop turning inward and turn heavenward when you begin feeling overwhelmed at church.
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