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Monday, August 27, 2012

Converse at Church

image credit: http://style-bard-shoes.blogspot.com
While I was getting ready for church yesterday morning, I received a text. It said something like this, "Do you think it would be bad if I wore my Converse to church today?"

Texting has kind of become our in-house intercom system, to tell you the truth.

Wow! So many ways to answer this one.... I mean everybody's doing it. I've even seen wedding photos with the bride wearing Converse under her gorgeous gown. I have an opinion on that, but I'll keep it to myself....for now.

So hmm....how to answer...."Heck no!" "Oh yes, and I'll wear mine too," "Whatever you want, dear. The choice is yours," "If you have to ask, I think you already know the answer...." The list could go on and on.

As I  contemplated something as simple as what shoes to wear to church, my wheels started turning, and some much deeper lessons entered my mind.....

First, I knew that by answering this question for this child, I was taking away his/her right to choose and the opportunity to learn from the experience. I'm learning, however, that sometimes my children think I'm setting them up--as if there IS a right response, but I'm waiting for them to figure it out. This is not the case, and I'm trying to teach them that really, I want them to learn from whatever choices they make.

I mean, really, it's a pair of shoes. Who cares? Would I wear them to church? No, but that's me. If it were something life threatening, then yah, I'd have a really strong opinion. For this one, this kid has to choose.

Second, I got to thinking about why I wouldn't wear the shoes to church. I mean, like I said, they're just shoes. So, here's what I came up with....

First of all, for a 40-something woman and Primary president to wear Converse to church, that'd be all the talk. Do I care that they'd talk about me? No, I'm sure they do already. It's not that I don't give people enough to talk about. In some ways I'm already a walking conversation piece, so that's not really a reason not to wear them. The real reason I learned a few years back when I served as Ward Music Chairman. I hadn't known this before, but there are some rather strict guidelines about music and instruments that can be played in sacrament meeting. I was intrigued by these and inquired a bit as to why. What I learned was that the main purpose of EVERYTHING that happens in sacrament meeting is to invite the Spirit. The purpose of that meeting is to help make that relationship between individuals and that member of the godhead stronger.

Does everything matter in sacrament meeting? I mean, if EVERYTHING that happens in sacrament meeting is to bring the Spirit, then does what I wear and do in that meeting have that effect too? If I were to wear the shoes, would I cause others to be so distracted by my footwear that they couldn't pay attention to other things, or even worse than that, would I be so distracted by the fact that maybe I'd made the wrong choice for my feet that day that I wouldn't be able to pay attention and learn something.

So, my response to this child:
"Umm...what do you think? Is it your Sunday best? Will your attire help bring the Spirit to the meeting?"

I really did want this child to ponder the question and answer it for him/herself. There is no right or wrong. I mean, no one told me. I had to make that decision on my own. I guess I felt like I owed that to this chid as well. Would I be disappointed if the child wore the shoes? No. There just comes a point where each of us has to decide for ourselves, right? Maybe this was this child's chance.

My third thought though was more important that any of the others....The Spirit is ALL that matters. I have no doubt that it's a real power. I think anybody that's read me or known me for any length of time knows this. I mean, the entire trip to Japan would NEVER have happened if it weren't for that little voice that I chose to follow. I mean, seriously, in three week's time, how could things have ever fallen into place for a mother of seven with no funds or passport for such a trip? How could I ever have done this on my own. There is only one answer to this question....I couldn't have. To take that one step further, without this tie to God in my life, how could I do the things I do on a daily basis? How could I ever function with what each day brings me?

So, although this all started with a simple question about some cool, red kicks, what it all boiled down to was there are little things in life that effect my ability to not be distracted. More than anything else in this world, the Spirit is what I want. I want it with me all the time--whenever possible. It's my link to God. It's my compass in a world where I'm pretty lost. I can choose to keep it with me through simple choices I make, or I can drive it away. Why on earth would I want to do something that would make it leave me?

image credit: ecobridge.wordpress.com
Way back at the beginning of the year, I decided to dub 2012 "The Year of the Upward Spiral." It's interesting when I look around me to see all of us who sabotage ourselves. I was in Target today and saw a girl with the most beautiful face and hair. Seriously, she was lovely, but I couldn't get past the bull ring that ran through her nose. Really? What a shame! Why do we do things to ourselves? We may not do things outwardly like that, but we may do things internally--negative thinking, etc. that have the same effect. Why? Isn't it a fact that everything in this world, if not acted upon, will return to a state of entropy (disorder)? How can we control that in our own lives?

The last lesson I learned by pondering on the red Converse was more based on what it made me think about sacrament meeting and its purpose. It's the fact that that's the place where I get in contact for the week. It's the only way to upward spiral and stop erosion in my life. It is the one thing I have that pulls me in the opposite direction from this world and where it's going, and it's up to me to seek for it. I'm so glad to know that there is a power to stop the downward progression in life.

Yes, they were just a pair of red tennis shoes, but the child's answer...

"Probably not. Okay."

Maybe fine for kicking around town, but not so much for a place as important as church.


Stan said...


Living the truths of the gospel is a treasure more precious than all the wealth and wisdom the world has to offer. If the Latter-day Saints and the world truly understood the principles of agency and teaching our children as you have shared, what a world this would be. Many are hungry for these truths you have shared and equally important, how to apply them! By your example with the red Converse shoes, you have shown others how to apply these sacred truths. You are making a difference!

Thank you for such a wonderful article.

Kira Rivadeneira said...

I gave a lesson in Young Women's about Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy a couple of weeks ago and I think I learned way more than any of the girls did. But one of the things that came up was that if we are dressing on Sunday to get other people's attention, it probably isn't appropriate for church. You are an awesome mom & you evidently have pretty cool kids too!

Jeanette said...

Hee, I wore Converse on my wedding day. White ones, and pretty lace/fake pearl ribbon for the laces. And, honestly, my feet were as comfortable as they could've been considering how long I spent on my feet.
However, I didn't actually wear them in the temple. That didn't seem quite right to me.
All my friends, when they saw my pictures, were the opposite of surprised. I guess that happens when you own a dozen or more pairs of Converse?

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