My apologies in advance that this will probably read like it is straight out of the New Era.
I was raised with some pretty clear expectations of how to keep the Sabbath day holy. Pretty much the standard LDS stuff plus a few house rules about television (no TV before church). When I married Kirk, it hadn't really occurred to me that different families observed the Sabbath in different ways, and that I'd married someone to whom Sunday was pretty much just another day.
Once Kirk became active in the church, Sunday of course included three hours of worship services, but he was not accustomed to any sort of reverent preparation my Sunday mornings included. 9:00 am church was no problem. 11:00 wasn't so bad either. But he was very upfront when we had 1:00 church during football season, he would be watching a game while I was away at choir. Although he has never felt the need to alter his methods of keeping the Sabbath day holy, he has always been willing to respect mine.
While my preferences for Sunday morning have always been pretty straightforward, it's the after church part that gets a little sticky. The rules weren't hard and fast growing up, but general guidelines pretty much meant we were generally inside with our family. We didn't play with friends. We didn't jump on the trampoline. We didn't go to the park. Instead, we ate a big Sunday dinner then piled onto my parents' bed to watch Lois and Clark. The big exception was when there was a family get together at Aunt Enid's. In this case, we'd generally spend the Sunday afternoon outside with our cousins, pretty much acting as though it was any other day of the week.
Well, I married into an amazing family, most of whom do not share my religious beliefs, but the members of which have been incredibly accommodating to my requirements over the years. That seemingly arbitrary list includes:
1. If you're going to plan a water party on a Sunday, my family will not be in attendance. (Rationale, we all live really close, and the party could easily have been on a Saturday).
2. All other Sunday family gatherings will be observed in much the same way we acted at Enid's.
3. If Heather is in town for a short period of time, and the only logical day to do fun things with the family is on Sunday, we will participate. However, I will bend over backwards to help plan it so major things like going to Lagoon happen on a different day.
4. We will happily attend all Sunday family gatherings be they immediate or extended family; we will show up after our full three hour block of worship.
Kirk's family has kindly timed Easter celebrations around our church schedule, rescheduled parties, and never made me feel marginalized for following my personal set of values. But there is one annual tradition that has caused me some trouble over the years. Super Bowl Sunday. The boys all get together to watch the game (see Enid's house rules). But the women - before I joined the family - all went to dinner and a movie. Then Kirk made the mistake of bringing an active LDS girl into the family, and no one quite knew what to do when I said I would really prefer to not spend money on a Sunday. Fortunately, the kids were all young, and for several years, it just kind of made sense to alter the family tradition. For several years, we got together at a sister-in-law's house to eat and play games while the little kids ran around (far from the football game, so the daddies could enjoy the game).
But the kids grew up. Now everybody can either handle watching the game, or going to dinner and a movie. So the old tradition resurfaced. Mom Fife called me to let me know the "girls" wanted to go to dinner and a movie. She knew I might decline, but wanted me to know so I could think about it. I let her know that it would be a tough decision for me, and that I would let her know.
As the day got closer, I weighed the pros and cons. In this unique one-day-a-year case, was it more important for me to set an example and maintain my standards or to be an active participant in family traditions? I prayed. I fasted (convenient that the Super Bowl is on Fast Sunday). I listened for any answer that might come during the lessons in church that day.
I got nothing. No answer. Which was pretty frustrating, because this question had a deadline. Feeling like the Lord really must not care either way, I ultimately decided that I would go to dinner, rationalizing that it made sense to be an active part of the family.
Two weeks later, I sat in the baptistry at the Jordan River Temple, reading a New Era cover to cover while waiting for the youth to finish doing work for the dead when I read an article about a similar decision. Elder Richard G. Scott was faced with knowing that the repercussions of choosing the right could negatively impact those around him. As he considered his choice, the words of the song, "Do what is right, let the consequence follow," came to his mind.
As I read this, I thought of how may times I have glossed over the words to that hymn, just kind of singing along to its cadence. But when I really stopped to consider it, it was precisely the answer I had prayed for. Why the Lord didn't answer me sooner, I don't really know, but there it was:
DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
LET THE CONSEQUENCE FOLLOW.
You know how a lot of people put "Return with Honor" or "Remember Who You Are and What You Stand For" above their front door so their kids will see it as they leave?
Well, my new house is going to display:
DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
LET THE CONSEQUENCE FOLLOW.
In reality, that is the answer to nearly every prayer we can pray. Do what is right. And for me, having the awesome parents I have, there is rarely any doubt of what is right.
Not "do what is right for others..."
Not "do what seems best in this situation..."
Just "DO WHAT IS RIGHT."
I'm sure going to try.
2 months ago