“In the Foyer Again!” Ensign, Mar. 1982, 45–47
I had only two small children, but my struggles in meetings were as great as those of a mother with a family of twelve.
Sunday after Sunday as I attended my meetings without my nonmember husband, I had to leave sacrament meeting at least once and sometimes more often. Each time as I maneuvered down the aisle with a loud, wiggling bundle in each arm, I always had the same thoughts: “Why do I have to leave like this! How can you kids do this to me? I don’t want to be disturbed! I have so much to learn!”
In the foyer, mad at them and feeling embarrassed and cheated, I’d force them to be quiet. I wasn’t happy, and they weren’t either.
Then I started pondering: I wouldn’t act this way if the Savior were sitting next to me. How would he handle the situation? Perhaps he’d let them play quietly at his feet and draw their attention to things they’d be interested in. Perhaps he’d explain in whispers what was happening. He’d not let them be noisy, but in his loving and gentle voice he’d quiet them. He’d see to it they were comfortable and happy, and he’d let them sleep if they were tired. But he wouldn’t allow them to take advantage of his loving guidance.
This insight helped me overcome some of my negative thoughts toward the children, and I was grateful for it. But my personal desire to hear the meetings still existed, and it ate at me each time I missed something.
It came to a head one Sunday. Five minutes into the meeting, my two-year-old started whining. Before long it was unbearable. My anxiety grew, and as it did, my baby grew uncomfortable. Soon I was dealing with two unhappy children. People were turning and looking, some disturbed, some with understanding. Humiliated, I packed up and relocated in the foyer with thoughts of failure in my mind, humiliation in my heart, and an upset stomach.
When we got out of the chapel I told my two-year-old how upset I was and how I needed to learn what was being said in church. Lovingly yet sternly I made her be quiet and control her actions but even when she started settling down, I still couldn’t hear the words of the speaker. I was gaining nothing, and wondering “What’s the use!”
Then a seed of wisdom was given me. As I sat there with my children, listening to the sounds of the meeting without being able to understand what was said, the Spirit taught me a lesson that I could never have heard in the meeting:
Your efforts are not going unnoticed: they are appreciated. Because you must give up some of the learning you might have received in the meetings in order to teach your children the proper attitudes and actions, you are given far greater learning capacity in the few quiet moments you have to yourself. Through pondering, you are given the knowledge you may miss—and more.
And more … ! I realized then that the discipline and learning I received through raising small children is well worth the sacrificing. My burden lifted, my heart floating in glorious understanding, I rejoiced with a thankful heart.