Growing up, I attended church… mostly because my parents made me, and I liked to hang out with my friends. Church really wasn’t a spiritual thing for me, and if I could find a reason to not go, I exploited it. I remember one weekend when I was thirteen, I got a bad sunburn on my shoulders and used that as my excuse. I was convinced I had gotten away with it until a couple of my youth leaders showed up at the front door and made me come to church with them.
We moved to south-central Idaho when I was fifteen. Once again, church was more of a chore, something I was obliged to do. On top of that my family didn’t feel entirely welcome in our congregation. I made friends though, and they were the main reason I tolerated it.
Shortly after we moved, my dad lost his job and we eventually could no longer remain there. We got split up a little bit. My mom and I moved to Idaho Falls, my sister was going to college, my brother was living in Provo, Utah, and my dad moved to Salt Lake City to stay with some relatives while he looked for a job. This time around, I said “screw it” to church. Pardon the French, but that’s honestly how I felt. My mom worked just about every night, so we she was busy trying to regain her energy Sunday morning. I, on the other hand, had no such excuse. The meetinghouse was only a mile and a half away, and I could easily have attended by myself, but I didn’t. I simply didn’t care.
Did our lives fall apart? Did we lose the influence of the Spirit in our home? Etc? Etc? No. In fact, those nine months I spent there were awesome. I loved going to another new school and having new experiences. I loved the time spent with my mom; our relationship was strengthened tremendously, and the other relationships I developed have changed my life forever. I continued to grow and learn from my experiences.
My dad eventually found a job and house down in Utah, and once my school year finished we moved down. We began attending church again. I was a bit apprehensive about the whole “Utah Mormons” thing, but something strange happened. For once, I felt as though I actually belonged in that pew. I felt at home, and church quickly became an event I looked forward to, instead of dreading its arrival as I had done for so many years.
As I began to finally get something spiritual out of church, I realized what I had been missing those nine months I blew it off. Yes, my life hadn’t been terrible, but I had been missing out on spiritual growth and experiences. My life could’ve been so much better, yet I had settled for less than what I was privileged to receive. The Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity and I had only taken a small portion of it. Who knows what might’ve happened had I possessed a different attitude and looked at life through a brighter shade. Well, I know. I know I would’ve learned so much more had my heart and mind been more focused on the Lord, seeking out good things, instead of trying to run away from what I had been taught as a child.
This is just a simple example. Take from it what you would like. But so many times in our lives we live beneath our privileges. We can’t comprehend the blessings God has in store for us, if we only seek Him out and do what He has commanded us to do.