Calling the Sabbath a Delight

Although most of the people I know are too polite to ask, I’ve had the feeling that some of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are curious about why I would give up one whole day a week to spend only doing “religious stuff” — especially since I also give a weeknight to lead a Webelos den, help out with the music in a couple of different areas, and spend time writing letters to women in my church. Hold on to your hats, because I’m also such a die-hard Mormon that I actually study my scriptures and pray EVERYDAY. Sounds a lot like fanaticism, doesn’t it? Don’t worry — I’ve already been told that the church would brainwash me.

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I haven’t always been this dedicated to my faith — especially about “keeping the Sabbath day holy,” as we tend to call it in the LDS faith. To be honest, in the early years after the divorce, I resented the Sabbath.  I had three small kids, I was trying to navigate a tempestuous divorce, and I was trying to do grad school while teaching full time. I often felt like I didn’t have time to keep the Sabbath.  When I was on my “best behavior,” I would often work until midnight on Saturday and put the family to bed as early as possible on Sunday.  Then, I would get up at 1 or 2 a.m. on Monday and get going just as fast as I could.  I would call myself keeping the “letter of the law,” but I had no understanding of the “spirit of the law.”

What changed?

The short answer is that I have changed. It sounds trite, but true religion is a total act of faith.  In all of the chaos that I was living through, I couldn’t see God’s hand holding me up and sustaining me. I couldn’t see that even my worst experiences were being turned to my good as I grew and gained wisdom and confidence. I was so focused on what I felt the kids and I had lost and so ready to blame God for “not protecting” us that I couldn’t see that He was right there with me the whole time.

Fortunately, Heavenly Father is very patient. I have had more opportunities than I can count to learn what it means to really let go and trust Him. Some of the lessons have come through deepening understanding as I have attended meetings and studied from the scriptures. Slowly, I have come to understand that this world and my life are carefully planned no matter how crazy things look.  The plan was put into place by Someone who loves me more than I can comprehend. If He says He is working everything together for my good, then He is.

But, how can you give up that much time?

I don’t know, really. I’m still single, and I have a house, a yard, a job, a son, and two cats and a dog to keep up with. I am looking at transitioning into a new career, so I am working full time and spending my “free time” trying to write and practice. I’m still doing as much as I can to serve and lift the people around me. I still feel guilty that I can’t give more. I can’t explain how I get it all done.

I have given up some things that I’m glad are gone — long hours of TV and internet games. After giving them up to make room for what I call productive hobbies, I realized that I was just using them to avoid negative feelings and other unsavory parts of life. I’m happier without them.

That’s still not enough hours to compensate. My only explanation is that I’ve been blessed with little miracles. There are times when I just know what is the most important thing to accomplish each day, even when it doesn’t make sense logically. I know that I am guided by the influence of the Holy Spirit. I have also had help beyond my own powers when I’ve needed to get projects done. Sometimes, it’s having ideas flow into my mind, sometimes it’s having extra strength to keep going when I should be completely exhausted, sometimes it’s having tasks and projects fall together faster than they normally would.

In the end, I believe the promises in the scriptures that tell me that, if I will be about my Father’s work, He will sustain and support me. I know because I had the faith to try.

13 ¶If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Isaiah 58:13-14

Do You Really Enjoy Spending Sunday as an All-Religion Day?

Yes.

Sunday has become a day when I can look forward to recharging my spiritual and emotional batteries. It’s the perfect follow-up to a Saturday walk-about. It’s the time I have to do things that I’ve wanted to do but can’t squeeze into a regular day: keeping a journal, tracing my family history, visiting friends, and taking time for family.

While I can’t describe the feeling, I know that I commune with my Father in Heaven, and that is priceless.

Extra Reading/Viewing

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing “Sabbath Day”

Message from President Gordon B. Hinckley

Message from Elder Holland

Message from Elder L. Tom Perry

Message from Elder Dallin H. Oaks