Friday, September 28, 2012

How Many Activities Does Someone Have to Attend to Be "Active"?

I decided early on in life that I would participate in all the church activities I could - without sacrificing something more important. That works wonderfully for me - and I am confident that God understands and loves me for the desire of my heart.

For example, before our latest move I lived just over 30 minutes from church - but, more importantly, I was on a strict budget. I started a new career a few years ago, and I had to do so at the bottom end of the ladder. Therefore, I still am not making much money - with three children in college and three daughters still at home. 
This means that my family simply couldn't afford to go to most of the church activities that are held on days other than Sunday and Wednesday - and that we couldn't make it to the ones that occur on Sunday evenings.

Furthermore, since I was serving as a High Councilor and needed to drive pretty significant distances for my speaking assignments and stake meetings, some of the things we might have attended previously were not possible at that point.

Fine. We didn't attend them.

We do what we can, and I don't stress about not doing what we can't. My family comes first, and I use my own situation regularly to teach others that we can't judge others at all, in any way, by how active they are in non-essential activities. For example, I've mentioned in Stake Leadership Meetings that I don't attend the temple as regularly as I would like because my and my wife's work schedules don't match, and it's hard to afford extra trips to the temple right now.

Summary: I am comfortable doing what I can, when I can, to the extent I can. Period. If that's good enough for others, fine; if it's not, fine. Period. It's what they are going to get, and once they realize that they are fine with it. (with a few exceptions, but there are people like that everywhere in life)

God loves me, and that really is enough in the end - although I've found that people generally love and accept me when they know I genuinely love and accept them and am willing to worship with them as much as I possibly can.


Paul said...

We do what we can. That's a healthy approach. President Hinckley often said we should just do our best. I found great comfort in that council.

We also do not attend everything -- especially parties. But we do try to make sure our kids can attend whatever they would like to; I want to help them foster church friendships where they can because those seem to be good bridges as the kids wait on spiritual experiences.

Christy said...

I can go on and on about this, and actually started to but then erased my original comment.=) We go to church and we go to seminary, and we attend the temple, though not frequently. (Hopefully much more frequently once the Hartford temple is built, wohoo!)Those three activities are essential to me. Alright, I am going to write a book, sorry. We watch as much of the live broadcast of general conference as we can, but mostly because we go to my parents' home and spend time with them while watching. Otherwise it can be watched, listened to, or read any time. (Admittedly I will make a point of reading all of the talks, but my children won't.) We attend youth activities within reason. Some days there are other things happening (like parent teacher conferences) that are a higher priority.

As far as social activities, we rarely participate. They tent to cater to the young children (like trunk or treat) because there are more of them. We make our own. One summer we invited two other families with youth in our ward to go to the Palmyra pageant and camp for a couple of days. I had ulterior motives because we were going to be studying Doctrine and Covenants and church history the coming seminary year, and I had my entire seminary class with me. We have been camping together ever since. So we make our own social activities - ones that we think matter most to our families. Also, I have the wonderful blessing of having my family nearby, and they are the people we choose to spend our free time with, as it should be.

So, my point is, I agree!

Matthew said...

I would say that activities are not necessary at all in order to be "Active". Activities create social opportunities that may or may not be welcome, or necessary. Ultimately, it is a product of an isolated, isolationist upbringing (speaking of the church), where every minute of the day was incorporated in some way into the Kingdom, and unfortunately it is often used as a means of judgement today.

If I can be really honest, I don't value activities at all currently, and never attend them. Not because I dislike the people in my ward but because I dislike 'activities' as such, and having my social life (meager as it is) organized for me by other people.

Having said that, for people who thrive on such things, more power to them! Plan them, enjoy them, and have a fantastic time. I wouldn't dream of depriving others of activities that they find enjoyable.

A caveat to all this is that my needs have been different at different times, and my current practice is not my has-been-forever practice.

Would that we all might learn to allow each other the privilege of worshipping how and where we need to.

Papa D said...

Paul, we also try to do everything our children want to do - unless we just can't do it. I am very open about our finances with my children.

Christy, sometimes there really are more important things that only happen once in a while and shouldn't be missed.

Matthew, I believe that if someone attends Sacrament Meeting as often as she can, she is "active". Everything else is attendance and, as you say, social activity.

Patty said...

Coming from the perspective of someone with social anxiety, and knowing that I have to push myself to attend activities.. I would actually welcome many more activities in our new ward. Sure, the activities may be aimed at certain groups or be corny or badly planned, but it gives those of us who are new or have a hard time breaking into the established groups a chance to see and be seen. In their absence, I try to have game nights at our home or join/start other activities like book group.
I don't think any of these is essential to being considered active, and I think there are varying levels of benefit spiritually. I'm totally good with the attitude of doing what you can and leaving the rest. If you need it and can make it work- go. If not- don't. :)