As a teenaged convert, I found Sundays very stressful. I came home from church filled with the spirit and determined to keep the Sabbath Day Holy. Unfortunately, I tended to walk into a noisy, busy home where no one else was keeping the Sabbath Day holy, since none of my family joined the church. The television was blaring. People were running off to do fun activities together. Everyone played games, talked politics, and generally treated the day like any other. Within minutes, the spirit was gone and it was easy to be drawn into the worldly activities my family was doing. Sometimes I wasn’t even able to attend church, since my family requested my presence at a family outing in the early days of my church membership. I was frequently sent to the store for my parents on Sunday afternoons.
After a while, I had a long talk with my bishop about my frustrations. He was a convert also, and had faced the same challenges. Together, we worked out a plan. He suggested I run my parents’ errands in order to honor my parents, but ask on Saturday nights if they had anything they wanted me to do for them, since I’d prefer not to do them on Sunday. This reduced the number of store trips I had to make.
When I had to go with my family on an outing, or had to participate in a non-Sabbath day appropriate activity, I had to balance my actions as best I could. I couldn’t prevent my parents from spending money on the meals we ate out or on admissions, but I could minimize what was spent. I was careful not to purchase souvenirs, for example, or to express interest in something that might cause my parents to spend more money. When not interacting directly with my family, I tried to keep my mind focused on spiritual things. I thought about my church lessons, LDS books I was reading, and gospel principles I was trying to learn. I hummed church music quietly. I tried to engage my family in conversation that was gospel-appropriate. I told my family the things I was learning or asked questions about our family history.
I often had free time on the Sabbath, and I learned to use that time wisely. I went into a quiet room or to a quiet spot on the cliff where our home was to read scriptures or study the gospel. Since privacy was hard to come by, I sometimes went for a walk to pray or to ponder. My family was interested in genealogy, so I was often able to work with them on that subject during the Sabbath.
Once I had a Sunday calling, church attendance became easier. My parents believed in keeping our responsibilities, so they no longer asked me to miss church. They knew I had work to do.
If you’re honoring your parents after your best efforts to make changes, He will accept your efforts on His behalf.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.