For our entire marriage, Chris and I have been tested in the principle of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. We have been tempted to eat out, swim, play sports, volunteer, shop, etc... all on the Sabbath. I am sorry to say that there were times early in our marriage when we failed and caved and were not diligent in keeping this important commandment. About 8 years ago, we made a firm commitment that keeping the Sabbath was going to be an important part of our lives. We cut out the swimming, the sports, the extra meetings, the visiting with friends. We cut out everything that was not in harmony with what we felt the Lord was teaching us about proper Sabbath observance. Our guide came from two prophets. The first is President Benson who said:
“It seems to me that the following should be avoided on the Sabbath:
“Overworking and staying up late Saturday so that you are exhausted the next day.
“Filling the Sabbath so full of extra meetings that there is no time for prayer, meditation, family fellowship, and counseling.
“Doing gardening and odd jobs around the house.
“Taking trips to canyons or resorts, visiting friends socially, joy riding, wasting time, and engaging in other amusements. …
“Playing vigorously and going to movies.
“Engaging in sports and hunting ‘wild animals’ which God made for the use of man only ‘in times of famine and excess of hunger.’ (See D&C 89:15.) …
“Reading material that does not contribute to your spiritual uplift.
(“Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy,” Ensign, May 1971, 6–7).
“The Sabbath is a day on which to take inventory—to analyze our weaknesses, to confess our sins to our associates and our Lord. It is a day on which to fast. … It is a day on which to read good books, a day to contemplate and ponder, a day to study lessons for priesthood and auxiliary organizations, a day to study the scriptures and to prepare sermons, a day to nap and rest and relax, a day to visit the sick, a day to preach the gospel, a day to proselyte, a day to visit quietly with the family … , a day for proper courting, a day to do good, a day to drink at the fountain of knowledge and of instruction, a day to seek forgiveness of our sins, a day for the enrichment of our spirit and our soul, a day to restore us to our spiritual stature, a day to partake of the emblems of [Jesus’] sacrifice and atonement, a day to contemplate the glories of the gospel and of the eternal realms, a day to climb high on the upward path toward our Heavenly Father” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 216).
Can I tell you how much opposition we have received in our attempt to keep this commandment? Not only from nonmembers but from friends, family and members of the Church. Steve Young played football on the Sabbath, we are told. Marriott Hotels are open on the Sabbath, we are told. Playing with friends on the Sabbath is fine, we are told. The ox is in the mire or at Meijer, we are told. It never ends. Chris and I feel like sometimes we are standing alone in this principle but that doesn't make it less of a principle. I don't know why we are so tested in this thing but we are stronger each time we are confronted to break it and we do not. The talks on Sunday strengthened my resolve to keep this important commandment. I often think of a quote I heard long ago, "The observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the depth of our conversion." It was by Mark E. Peterson.
After Sacrament, I had a temple rec interview with a member of the Stake Presidency who impressed me so much by knowing the date our baby is due and the names of each of our children and their ages. Granted this man is in our ward, but we are not close to him. I'll bet if you stood up 10 men in the ward, none of them would have known this information like he did. I felt loved and important to this man who has taken the time to know our family. I'm wondering if he knows every family like that and if he does, how does he remember them all? The rest of the day was just as nice as the beginning. Nice meals and nice conversation and enjoying our family. The only imperfection was that Anna and Tony were out of town and unable to share our usual Sunday family dinner.
Today was a different experience for us as we have decided to try living as a one car family. I can tell you that it isn't going to be easy and is going to take some careful planning. I'm not sure how long we will have to do it, but I think we can for the duration we need to. Today Chris took my van and the kids and I had been planning on swimming at Grammy's. We got out the bikes and wagon and walked there. It only took us 20 minutes to get there and was not a horrible trip by any means. As I watched my little flock keep their bikes on the sidewalk and navigate one busy road and several small intersections, I kept thinking of the straight and narrow path and trying to stay on it, holding to the rod and navigating the curves that life throws at us. I love my children so much and I pray each day that I am teaching them the correct things that will keep them on the straight and narrow. As I was pulling Cameron in the wagon and watching them, I felt was bursting with love and pride for them and the sweet little people that they are. I can't express how much I enjoy them and being with them and being a mother.
When I read my scriptures today, I was reading in Helaman about Nephi and his sadness at the wickedness of the Nephites. I had inserted a little quote into my scriptures by Neal A. Maxwell.
"The Lord has made no secret of the fact that He intends to try the faith and the patience of His Saints. (See Mosiah 23:21.) We mortals are so quick to forget the Lord: “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions … they will not remember him.” (Hel. 12:3.)
However, the Lord knows our bearing capacity, both as to coping and to comprehending, and He will not give us more to bear than we can manage at the moment, though to us it may seem otherwise. (See D&C 50:40; D&C 78:18.) Just as no temptations will come to us from which we cannot escape or which we cannot bear, we will not be given more trials than we can sustain. (See 1 Cor. 10:13.)
Therefore, given the aforementioned grand and overarching reasons to rejoice, can we not “be of good cheer” in spite of stress and circumstance?
President Brigham Young said of a geographical destination, “This is the place.” Of God’s plan of salvation, with its developmental destination, it can be said, “This is the process”!
President Young, who knew something about trial and tribulation but also of man’s high destiny, said that the Lord lets us pass through these experiences that we might become true friends of God. By developing our individual capacities, wisely exercising our agency, and trusting God—including when we feel forsaken and alone—then we can, said President Young, learn to be “righteous in the dark.” (Secretary’s Journal, 28 Jan. 1857.) The gospel glow we see radiating from some—amid dark difficulties—comes from illuminated individuals who are “of good cheer”!
To be cheerful when others are in despair, to keep the faith when others falter, to be true even when we feel forsaken—all of these are deeply desired outcomes during the deliberate, divine tutorials which God gives to us—because He loves us. (See Mosiah 3:19.) These learning experiences must not be misread as divine indifference. Instead, such tutorials are a part of the divine unfolding."
I am trying to be of good cheer in the midst of trials. I don't know why we are being tried and tested in the ways we are right now, but I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us and we need to be trusting that He knows what is the right path for our family now. I wish I could see all of the plan but I guess that would require no faith on my part. I take comfort in the knowledge that this pain we feel right now is temporary and we will be through it soon.