So, attending all three hours of Church has been tricky for me lately. Why? Because:
- Three hours is a looooooooooooong time
- Migraines and depression: bad mixture
- Church is sometimes... really boring
- Church is sometimes... full of weird pet doctrines from weird people
- Social pressure to make a bunch of friends is stressful for me
But! I found a great way for me to survive without going completely insane.
First, I built up my self-esteem to have some good energy before I got there. I've been practicing my driving lately, and on Sunday morning, I drove ALL THE WAY TO THE GROCERY STORE. Awwww yeah. So I was feeling pretty confident and happy with my success when I walked into Sacrament Meeting.
Secondly, I brought stuff to do in order to fight off the boredom and irritation. I did my scripture study during testimony meeting, I did sudoku during Sunday School, and I read Daughters in My Kingdom during Relief Society. I know what you're thinking: you're thinking, "Goodness. If you didn't even plan on paying attention at Church, why did you attend all three meetings?"
That's a fair question. I went to Church and stayed there because I wanted to. I went to Church and stayed there because I want to build up my three-hour endurance again. I want to enjoy being at Church, so I had to start somewhere. And for me, that meant going there with stuff to keep my mind busy. My learning at Church is no one's responsibility but mine, so I brought things to do to help me participate and learn in my own way. In my defense, most of the stuff I brought was pretty productive and gospel-related. The sudoku... maybe not so much. But it kept me from paying too much attention to That Guy in class who preaches his personal brand of Church doctrine, so it was a good thing for me. I paid enough attention to catch the occasional gold flake, so I'm good with that.
Thirdly, I didn't force myself to make small talk. I didn't obligate myself to make friends. I didn't try to meet any new people, only to forget them five minutes after Church ended. For me, that was HUGE. I stayed in my comfort zone, and the chatters chatted with their own kind. I didn't feel bad about it, either. I am not good at making new friends in five minutes. It's stressful, and I find small talk with strangers kinda obnoxious. I saved up my social energy to focus on my visiting teaching sisters that afternoon--people I actually have stewardship over, and will talk to more than once ever.
My Church-surviving techniques did come at a small price, though. I got Looks. Jordan tells me an older woman stared at me in Sunday School while I minded my own business, doing sudoku. In Relief Society, the outgoing lady who plopped down next to me as I was quietly reading seemed a little annoyed that I only politely answered her questions, rather than enthusiastically spilled my life story. A woman lifted up the cover of Daughters in My Kingdom in order to see what I was reading (weird, right?).
Even though there were some awkward moments, it was well worth the cost. I dealt with the stress of Church on my own terms, and I'm proud of the progress I made. And you know what? I know it'll only get better from here. Who knows... maybe next week I'll graduate to listening to the Relief Society lesson!