Monday, January 14, 2013

To Keep or Not to Keep - The Sabbath Day Holy: Part 2

I did not keep the Sabbath day holy 8-10 Sundays per year as a youth.

That choice ranks up there as one of the best decisions I ever made.

For various reasons, including potential hip surgery for my sister, coordination, and combining the elements of dance, baton, and gymnastics in one great session, my mother enrolled us in baton twirling classes with the Julie-ettes baton studio at a very young age.  I didn't love it for the first six years because I never felt pushed or challenged and the girls were often cruel - especially the class I had when I was 11 and chunked up to a larger size than I am at 32.   So I quit for a year.  When I returned, under the promise things would be better, they weren't.  My mother and I were out one day when she decided to stop by the studio to sign up my older sister for the next year.  The teacher tried to convince me to come back, but upon inspecting the names of the girls in the two classes she was considering me for, I cried and said no way.  Then, she pointed to a class and said, "This may be too advanced for you and you may feel overwhelmed, but what about this one?"  I looked.  I knew no one.  The chance at a challenge and a fresh start won me over.

Long story short, by the end of that year, I was in love with baton and skilled enough to make the second most advanced competition team.  But that's a story for another time.  For eight childhood years, I had watched the competition teams in awe, only dreaming that one day I would be anywhere near as talented as those girls.  Just imagine my excitement when the teacher let me know that not only was I good enough, but she wanted me on her team.

But there was a problem.

I had already begged and pleaded with my parents to let me participate in a competitive gymnastics team earlier that year when the coaches advanced me to team status.  Gymnastics team had about ten competitions throughout the state each year.

But there was a bigger problem.

Baton competitions were about eight times a year...on Sundays.  I'd grown up hearing stories of children who would not play a championship whatever-sport-you-choose game because it was on a Sunday, listening to the woes of those whose circumstances forced them to work on Sundays, experiencing the joys that Sundays were the Lord's time for families, knowing my family never shopped or spent money on Sundays....the list goes on.

Yet I could not shake the dream of a baton competition team.  I approached my parents with knots in my stomach about the money, the commitment, the breaking of a commandment...

And here is one of many experiences when I learned, with no uncertainty, the unconditional love of my parents - the love I much imagine our Heavenly Parents feel for us.  I'm not sure what went on behind closed doors, but I do know my parents let me know this was ultimately my decision and they would do all they could to support me. 

Of course I prayed about it - that's what Christian children do.  I could not shake the feeling, as a twelve year old, that the Lord would not only understand, but encourage and support me in this dream.

I had worked so incredibly hard that my first year of competing, I earned a place in the most advanced level for my remaining four years until graduation.  There are many reasons one can see for this advancement - hard work, determination, challenge - but I see blessings.  Many of them.  And support.  And love.  Going from a beginning-level class, to the most advanced in two years' time is no coincidence in my book.

Ultimately, I competed several Sundays a year for five years.

I also missed church for one other reason throughout the year:
My grandparents and aunt/uncle/cousins lived in northern Ohio and we would sometimes visit them for the weekends, going to church with them.

Any particular Sunday, I'd get a teasing comment from some adult like, "Oh good, you are here!  We were worried you you were going inactive."  Now, sit back and imagine to yourselves how this makes an impressionable adolescent feel.

I was in seminary every single morning at 6am.  I was often in church in Lorain, Ohio instead of Piqua, Ohio.  In fact, between baton, gymnastics, show choir, twirling for the band, and being in all AP classes, my seminary teacher would notice my extreme exhaustion on occasion and tell me she'd fail me if I didn't stay home that week.  I love her.

In spite of all of the signs that I was an active kid with my head on my shoulders correctly and very active-in-the-church parents, I was ridiculed by adults.  Similar behaviors to this chased my older and my younger sister's away, but more on that in my upcoming posts on modesty.

The thing is, I feel that the observance of the Sabbath is a personal decision between you and the Lord.  As a youth, that decision was between me, the Lord, and my parents.  Maybe your decisions will never be those that anyone else understands.  But if you truly, truly feel the Lord supports you and you are working as a team on your path, then more power to you!

Some of my greatest memories with my mother are from our trips to competitions staying in cheap motels, seeing a movie the night before, her always trying to calm my nerves, her treating me to one of my favorite restaurants, her supporting me and loving me enough to be there, the list goes on.

My little sister followed in my footsteps - competing herself for about ten years.  Because of baton team, my family was able to take many vacations together - Florida, California, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and more.  Our first trips to Disneyland, Disney World, Universal Studios, a Mexican Cruise - all because of baton team. 

Through my Ox-in-the-mire decision to break the Sabbath, I was able to learn life lessons that I honestly do not feel as if I would have learned elsewhere.  I 1,000% feel as if I did learn the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy through my choices.  And another great principle called agency.   And another miraculous principle called unconditional love.  Too many people function out of fear when it comes to God, but God is all-loving and all-knowing.  He will support you. 

What did I learn and gain?

The value of team work
The importance of pulling your weight on the team - your personal decisions can make or break the entire team
Personal dedication
Work Ethic
Anger Management - trust me, when someone else's baton flies into your face and bloodies your lip whilst chipping your tooth, you have to learn to keep your cool and realize it was not intentional
Working through pain
The joy of winning
The pain of losing
Knowing that doing the very best you can is always most important, but does not always mean you will win
Respecting competition
Realizing sometimes life isn't fair
Realizing the Lord will support you in unconventional decisions and is proud of us executing our agency
Exemplification that hard work can help you accomplish your dreams
Talents should be shared

I wish more people could see our Heavenly Father for who He truly is.  I also wish you all could see how amused people get, almost like watching a freak show, when they ask me to twirl for them and I comply.

Read Part 1


Miss Megan said...

I don't feel guilty doing vacation-type activities over a Sunday (like going to Disneyland, a play in NYC, etc). I'm also grateful for those who DO work on Sunday, like doctors and farmers and such. Besides, everyone has such differing ideas of what is Sunday appropriate, I think it's unfair for any of us to judge each other on what we do. Watching t.v? Watching sports? You are totally right -- it's a decision between you and the Lord. Your experiences sound so amazing! I'm glad you made the choices you did!

Any possibility you'd post a video sometime of you twirling?

Larissa said...

You can post a video of 1940s Radio Hour:-) The only videos I have are VHS and I don't have any fancy technology to convert them. Guess you'll just have to take my word for it when I say I twirled two fire batons at once:-)

miss kristen said...

Adults like that make me want to PUNCH them. If you feel that you are in good standing with the Lord it's NO ONE'S BLOODY BUSINESS why you weren't in church on Sunday. I know it came from a place of love, but having been the recipient of many well-meaning 'you need to keep your family active' comments from a Bishop, of all people did far more harm than good to my adolescent soul.
Sundays were our 'family day', and more often than not it included something that broke the Sabbath, yet I never felt bad because we were spending time together as a family, and that's what's important.