Julianne had youth conference this weekend. They had their own church meeting so it was just the four kids with me and Trent. Trent left in the middle of sacrament to pick her up.
Some interesting things at church. First, we had a beautiful quartet sing "The star spangled banner". I'm a pretty patriotic person and as soon as they stood up to sing, I stood up too. It is the national anthem after all. Well it only took about half a second to realize that I was standing all alone. As in 100% completely alone. Trent was gone and my kids were all looking at me like I was crazy. Catherine asked me what I was doing and I replied "I stand for this song." Fairly quickly the 2 adults on the left of me joined. I was toward the back of the meeting so there was only a couple of rows behind me and several of them came up to me to let me know they had stood up as well after seeing me, but as for people in front of me, there was no one. It was quite the mental debate going on in my head. Immediately the desire to just conform hits you like a ton of bricks. One part of me was reasoning "sit down, sit down" but a larger part of me was making connections to so many things I have been reading about. Most recently I read "All the Light we cannot see." It made me consider peer pressure. So in that moment where I was the only one standing I realized that this was just another example of group dynamics at play and to forget about the group and follow my inner moral compass. I decided that for me, I feel in my heart that I want to show respect for my country by standing for the national anthem no matter what anyone else does. And so I did.
Then in Sunday school their was some discussion about the sacrament ordinance and how if we aren't prepared just right then it is meaningless. Someone shared what I suspect is a faith promoting rumor (a few quick google searches lead me to think it didn't happen). They told of one of the prophets refusing the sacrament because he hadn't prepared well enough for it. I just don't think it works that way. We speak so much of avoiding vain repetitions in prayers and for me the definition of vain repetition has nothing to do with the words someone says but the behavior that follows. Quite honestly I pray for nearly the same things everytime I pray. For example I pray to be safe while driving. I can say that every single day and the only thing that would make it vain would be to finish the prayer and head out on a drive and speed carelessly, text while driving, and so on. That would make my prayer all in vain, but if after contemplating in prayer safe driving and then heading out to be a concsious, observant driver my prayer will not have been in vain. It will likely lead to safe driving.
I believe the sacrament is the same. It serves as a weekly ordinance to remind us of our baptismal covenants. We can make our sacrament all done in vain, if afterwards we do not behave as though we can remember them. Do we mourn with those who mourn? Do we comfort those who need comfort? Etc. if we not do do that then our sacrament was in vain. One does not need to prepare himself ahead of time. There is no righteousness clause. We take the sacrament, ponder on our behavior and then act accordingly. If we do that then it is not in vain.
The second thought I had was in relief society. Our teacher was very emotional about the thought of not having all of her kids in the temple with her. I felt sad for her and for others in the room who feel the need to have this experience before they can experience a full joy. For so many women in that room, this will just not be a possibility. And I could sense the discomfort.
I remember the wording in the bible dictionary about the home being the only thing that compares in sacredness to the temple and I encouraged all of us to elevate in our opinion the experiences we have in our home with our children and families. Recognize our homes as sacred ground. Honor the experiences we have with our families as equal to any experience in the temple. Let that be enough. Since we cannot nor should we desire to control other peoples choices, then we need to carve out equally blissful benchmarks and recognize them as such.