When You Don’t Want To Go To Church

Dear Friend,

I saw your heart-felt plea to friends and family on Facebook the other day. Your post was raw, beautiful and honest. I could see your weekly struggle to keep up the fight and continue to drag children to church, mostly by yourself. I could see, in my mind’s eye, your adorable but wiggly toddlers and your role during sacrament meeting seeming to be that of a referee, more than a student. I could feel your desire to want more from your church experience, or even a desire to go every Sunday. I was impressed with your openness and that your struggle resonated with so many women, who also struggle with what to do when you don’t want to go to church. It took courage to open your heart to us and even more courage to allow me to write this.

You were given beautiful advice from many others. Some encouraged you to keep going to teach your children the habit. One sister suggested you ask a friend to sit with your cute family. Yet another sister gave some beautiful suggestions on preparing physically and spiritually.

I have pondered and prayed on what I could possibly add and have emerged with my own experiences pushing their way to my mind. I have 6 children, three of which are currently toddlers. Our situations do have some differences, but I want you to know that I do understand what it feels like to survive yet another sacrament meeting, feeling more like a three ring circus act than having had a grand spiritual experience. For the most part, though, I do adore going to church and would love to tell you what makes the difference for me.

I believe the key thing you are longing for is a yearning to attend. How do you go from drudgery to gaining a desire so strong that it becomes a physical need? I have some ideas but before I go on, I ask you the same question I heard Sheri Dew ask, “Are you willing to work for it?” (i) I can promise you that the combination of what I am about to suggest will eventually take hold on your heart and turn motive of duty into feelings of utter joy, but it will require consistent effort. I can’t go into tons of detail here, but I am offering a glimpse into delight and a place to start.

How To Find the Scriptures Exciting

I did not always find studying doctrine thrilling. I had a daily habit of reading the scriptures, but there is a difference between reading and feasting. Here’s the end goal: to learn something from God. That- That is a thrilling experience which keeps you coming back for more. Until stories and doctrine are woven into your soul, they seem dull and scripture time is more of a check list item than a need. The place to start is to have questions, while not entertaining doubt. Oh sure, doubt may creep in, but exercising faith and the sheer power of virtue to push them aside is critical. Questions, however are key to learning more. They help us want to search and dig. Questions lead to more questions and, eventually, more knowledge. Just snacking on doctrine won’t do. Consistently set aside some real time and dig in.

How to Find Prayer Exciting

I want to ask you a question: Do you know how to have a conversation with your Heavenly Father? There is a difference between talking to someone (which becomes boring over time) and talking with them. Talking with Heavenly Father can be an exhilarating experience! When you realize that a God just spoke to you, the difference in your prayers is palpable. The trick is to learn how your Heavenly Father communicates with you, which can be different for many people. If you don’t know how to consistently hear what your Father in Heaven has to say to you, may I suggest this beginning: My favorite scripture on this matter is D&C 8: 2-3 which says, “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation…” The amazing thing we learn here is that the Holy Ghost affects 2 different places in our bodies. The mind can be logical and the heart can be passionate but pay attention when they are unified. Therein lies a beautiful beginning to understanding personal revelation. When you turn to your Heavenly Father with not only your own ideas but can understand, in detail, what He has to tell you, you become anxious and willing to fall on your knees often.

Mind and Heart Personal Revelation

How To Find Temple Worship Exciting

Frequent temple worship can change your very nature. Among other things, I have found that memorizing the things I learn there engraves His doctrine on my heart in such a way that I can’t help but want more. Additionally, I can recall the things I learn anytime I desire. I find that I want more knowledge, more virtue, more answers to my questions, more questions, more prayer, more everything! Heavenly Father LOVES to teach in His house and when you experience this kind of learning, you realize how much you don’t know. Not knowing isn’t a negative as it inspires new questions and more yearning. You can’t help but want more.

The strange thing about the council I have given is that there’s not much about attending church, however, when you apply these things, your desire to partake of the sacrament, learn and please your Heavenly Father makes Sundays not only bearable but enjoyable. I can promise that as you search the scriptures, learn to communicate with God and frequently attend the temple, you will find it. My message to you is this: the gospel is exciting! The amazing things we can learn now and especially in the future, will absolutely astound you. I promise you it is worth scooping Cheerios off the floor, shushing toddlers and pacing the hall with a distraught child. Eventually, you can come to a place where any amount of sacrifice is worth understanding One. More. Doctrine. You will never regret your faithful attendance now, and can turn your Sunday experience into something to look forward to. I promise.

Love,
Jeni

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Jeni Brockbank and her husband Bart are parents to 6 amazing children. She finds great joy in being a wife and mother and feels that both callings are sacred privileges. Jeni is a continual student of the scriptures and loves to share her testimony with anyone who will listen. She teaches choir, is crafty and is grateful on a daily basis to live a few blocks from the Brigham City, UT temple.

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