How many times have you gone to church, said hi to a few people, sat through class, maybe made a comment or two, picked up the kids from Primary and headed home, only to feel the same as you did before you left?
Many faithful Mormons can find themselves in a slump, consistently going to church without feeling inspired. Here are a few reasons you might be feeling uninspired and a few suggestions to help you reestablish that connection with heaven.
Reason One - Habit
Because church happens every Sunday, sometimes we can take it for granted and it becomes a habit. We know we will be getting the family ready and out the door almost on time every week. We know the order of our classes, the topics that will probably be discussed, and all of the “Primary answers” to give. We don’t really stop to think more deeply about why we are there.
What to do:
Remind yourself of the purpose of the Sacrament and think of the Savior during the ordinance. Though this might be more difficult for parents with noisy little ones, even taking a few seconds to close your eyes and think of him, and teaching your children reverence as they grow will help. Remember that it is a privilege to take the Sacrament, and try physically include “Go to church” on your list of weekend activities--it may help you remember that church is a choice.
Reason Two - Teaching
Occasionally we have all been in a class where the teacher seems to be scattered, not saying anything new, or incorrect. And we tend to blame our lack of inspiration on that teacher. While the teacher may be partly to blame, there are some things the students can do to help as well.
What to do:
Start by remembering that teachers and speakers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not paid professionals. They are volunteers and are learning just like you. As you cut your teachers some slack, you can also ask yourself how you can help the class. If you study the lesson beforehand, can you help when comments are sparse or even gain your own insights as the teacher explains things you’ve already studied in a different way.
Reason 3 - Judgment and Distraction
Often it is easy to let the little things bother and distract us. We can be quick to judge others for allowing their children to be noisy, for playing on electronics, eating snacks, dozing off, you get the picture. There are plenty of things to distract us and make it easy to be more focused on others instead of the Holy Ghost and his messages to us.
What to do:
The fix to this inspirational break is more mindset than action. While I have found that sitting closer to the front of the room helps me focus on the speaker more and cuts out many distractions from my vision, I can’t always sit at the front. This is a great time to practice service, charity and patience. Though we do go for to church for our own inspiration, sometimes church is also the best place to go to learn how to serve outside of yourself and apply the things you learn. As we learn to listen to comments or observe situations with an attitude of “what can I learn from them” or “how can I help” instead of one of “I already know this answer” or “I wish their kids would be as well-behaved as mine,” we will find ourselves better able to listen to and follow the Spirit.
Reason 4 - Callings
Sometimes a particular calling like library assistant, nursery/primary leader, or something that takes us away from regular adult Sunday School class can make us feel disconnected from channels of inspiration and progression.
What to do:
One idea to help with this inspiration block is to find other ways to learn. If you are in the library during class, you have access to a lot of materials! Study the lesson you would have been having, or take advantage of the down-time to ponder. As a Primary teacher, you have a special opportunity to teach young, impressionable minds gospel truths that they will hopefully remember for the rest of their lives. See how much you can learn in-depth while you are preparing your lesson and think about those things as you teach the simpler versions to your class. Sometimes figuring out how to simplify deep gospel principles is a great way to gain new insights or inspiration. Also try listening more closely to the children and taking time to feel their testimonies as they tell you things they have learned or asked questions. Children have simple, strong testimonies and can say profound things if you are listening for them.
When it comes right down to it, the real key to feeling inspired at church is effort. The channels of inspiration are not available simply because we are in the church building surrounded by other Latter-day Saints. We must be involved, pray for help, and prepare in advance. This means that, while outside forces can be contributing to our lack of inspiration and there may still be days where we will simply need to go to church out of obedience or habit, often a few adjustments to our perspective and planning might just make all the difference in our attempt to reclaim Sunday inspiration at church.
What do you do when you don't feel inspired at church? Leave your suggestions in the commetns below!