Monday, March 12, 2007

Who Shall Stand It?

When I was a kid and sometimes hated church because it was boring and I had to wear a skirt, I focused on wresting the scriptures to my own satisfaction: "Sister, if men are that they might have joy, and cookies bring us joy, shouldn't you help us fulfill the measure of our creation by distributing those treats now?"

When I was a teenager and sometimes hated church because it was boring and I had no friends, I took deep breaths and recited the mantra, "It's my church too. It's my church too." Or, when that failed, I comforted myself with faith, hope, and charity: faith that church will, someday, be spiritually uplifting, hope that it will be this week, and charity when it's not.

When I was a college student and sometimes hated church because it was boring and mindless, I brought books and read my way through the Qur'an, the Baghavad Gita, the Apocrypha, and the collected works of St. Augustine, Boethius, and Kierkegaard. Oh, and I started fights about stockpiling nuclear weapons and quoted "This Be the Verse" in Relief Society.

Recently, on the days I hate church because it is boring and everyone asks me to be in charge--of playing the piano in sacrament meeting, of teaching Sunday School, of teaching English class, of teaching free piano lessons to anyone who asks, of conducting the church choir, of translating Relief Society for the mission couple--and then criticizes the way I do these things, I haven't had time to read, meditate, or even persuade others to feed me. I come home exhausted, and, frequently, irritated, mostly from having to bite my tongue as well-meaning members point out to me how fat I've gotten. ("I mean, when you got here you were thin. But now you're looking plump!" "Mmm-hmmm." "Indonesian food must really agree with you!" "Mmm-hmmm." "Yep, you sure are nice and fat now." "Mmm-hmmm.")

But then I had this thought: forget the Second Coming, this is how I'm going to read Malachi now: church is the real refiner's fire. If I can just abide each Sunday as graciously as possible, fulfilling, if not magnifying, my callings, one day I really may become a pure metal, kind and helpful on the inside as well as the out. One day, with enough practice at church, I really may do my duty with a heart full of song, instead of a heart full of grumbling at everyone for disagreeing with my decision to change the words of a hymn from "thee" to "you" when I used it during English class. I hope. That's what all this suffering is for, right?

If not, at least there's this: now, instead of biting my tongue, I hum Handel. A head full of song is almost as good as a heart full of song, and far, far better than a tongue full of teeth marks.


Katya said...

But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth?

For He is like a refiner's fire.

Melyngoch said...

All we like sheep? Really, that's what I'd hum.

The Joo said...

I usually don't comment, though I must say I think your blog is the most entertaining of the 8 blogs I read on a daily basis. But man, I've got to say a loud "amen" to this one. My sister and I always justified leaving Relief Society and going for a drive/having a theological discussion because we knew if we stayed we'd be thinking less-than-charitable thoughts towards our fellow sisters. (any RS question that can be answered "by being like jesus" needs to not exist)

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