Church is one of the best things that happens to me. It's a set time every week for me to go and have three hours where I can look inside myself, set right the things I've let get crooked and skiwampus during the week (and sometimes that's a lot) and let the higher power and energy of the gospel and God fill my soul. I feel like a better person when I leave church, and maybe someday I'll be able to carry that feeling with me each week from Sunday to Sunday- that deeper fulfillment and sense of being more grounded, more sure, and (usually) more interested in those around me.
And that's something worth spending three hours a week for. I realized at some point during college that I was subconsciously upset with myself for not living up to the level I knew I was capable of all the time. My subconscious response to this was, "I hate feeling the inconsistency of not always being kind, good, and considerate like I want to be. So in the interest of consistency, I'll just live at a lower level all the time" Guess what. I wasn't a really happy person when I figured out this was how my mind was operating. But after more deliberation, I concluded that it was better to be inconsistent than to consistently live below my privileges and below my highest ability for love and goodness. I don't always hit the mark, but I'm better for hitting it sometimes than I would be for never reaching for it.
In a way it's reminding me of the parable of the talents. I've long thought that if the third servant, the one who buried his single talent, had tried to invest the talent and had lost everything, the lord would have given him the same reward he gave to the first two servants. I don't think it was the money at all that the master cared about. I think if the third servant had been bereft when the master returned because he dared to reach out and dream and be involved in the world, the master would have given him that "well done, my good and faithful servant" tribute. Because the master didn't expect perfection from his servants. He expected them to work, to make a valiant effort, to step forward and do what they could in the world.
Being the science nerd that I am, I also tend to find myself thinking in terms of the natural world. In nature, everything takes the path of least resistance. A river flows along the lowest point in the land, and towards the lowest point in the land, because that takes the least energy. An electron sits in the lowest orbital that it can around a nucleus because that's where it can exert the least energy. Chemical reactions will not take place without a catalyst of some kind unless the products will be at a lower energy state than the reactants, because that's how nature goes- from a state of high energy to a state of lower energy. And guess what. There is a natural woman inside of me who really likes to not waste energy. She likes to take the path of least resistance. It's easier to not reach out and serve people, to not go out of my way for people, and when all's said and done, it's easier to not live the gospel. It takes less energy. But do you know what happens when the electron gets kicked into a higher orbital? All kinds of magic. In some cases, neat chemical reactions take place. In some cases, the electron emits light. And do you know what happens when I get kicked into a higher energy level? I want to do things, to touch peoples' lives, to serve and comfort and make people feel good about themselves, to draw nearer to God. There's a different term for higher energy when it takes place in humans rather than electrons. We call it love.
And know what the first and great commandment is? It's all about this very concept- loving God. Living at a higher level. Not falling to the path of least resistance. So this is why I love going to church each week. And I hope that although I feel the effects don't last a full seven days, they are changing me in ways that are slow but sure, making me more consistent, stronger, higher than I was. Because the higher I get, the more amazing the view is. And the more amazing the view, the greater the sense of love. Interesting, no?