Taking My Two Month Church Sabbatical
Last Sunday I returned to church for the first time in two months after having Baby E. I had decided late in my pregnancy, when virtually no clothes fit and I was huge and uncomfortable, that going to church when one is nine months pregnant was not a priority. And then after I had the baby, the doctor was surprisingly firm about not taking the baby to church until he was six weeks old. Thus my two month sabbatical from church was born.
During those two months of Sundays, I generally stayed at home to take care of baby, while Mike was gone from 8 AM until the afternoon. (Side note: Sundays suck when one’s spouse goes to up to seven hours of meetings and leaves one home alone to cope with crying infant.) Towards the end of that two months, however, I had begun to miss worship services, and for some reason I wasn’t feeling up to going to my own ward, so I decided I’d attend my local favorite non-LDS church, the United Church of Christ.
I love it there. I love the thoughtful, academic sermons the pastor gives. I love the upbeat energetic hymns and choir performances led by a local professor of choral music. I LOVE it when that same professor/music leader would lead the congregation in meditative singing, as he sings the cantor part. That part always gives me chills of joy. I love the infant quiet room, which is encased in glass and right in the midst of the congregation. I love the fact that women often conduct the meetings and that sometimes female guest pastors come to lead the service. Above all, I love its inclusive Christian message of loving and inviting all people to worship.
Every time I go to this church, I become more strongly determined to live a thoughtful Christian life. I become interested in praying again. It is wholly a positive experience.
I’ve felt similarly inspired and uplifted by attending other religions’ services. It makes me happy to see so many people thoughtfully communing with God in diverse and beautiful ways, and it inspires me to try to connect with God in new ways as well.
Because of these uplifting experiences I have had attending various worship sessions, and because I sometimes become frustrated, bored, and depressed by the status quo in my own faith tradition, I have become convinced that taking sabbaticals from my ward and attending other churches occasionally – particularly churches whose message personally resonates – is healthy for me. Doing this nourishes my spirit. It reconnects me with God. It fills me with joy to see people finding their paths to Him and Her. It even gives me strength to renew my relationship with God within my own religion.
What have been your experiences with taking sabbaticals from Church, positive or negative? Does anyone else reach points when they also need a spiritual boost from other faith traditions? And is it wrong, from an LDS perspective, to skip out on Sacrament Meeting occasionally to attend other services? What’s a good balance of maintaining active Church attendance but also enjoying other services?