I love the gospel but hate going to church

There I said it. I finally admitted it. It has been 6 weeks or so since I’ve been to church. I’m in a new ward somewhere. So I don’t have a calling and dread going to a brand new ward where I don’t know anyone. The questions alone: ‘And who are you?’ “Are you married?” “Where are you from?” “where did you serve a mission?” “And what brought you to New York?”

It’s not just going to a new ward, I’ve always hated going to church. When I was a little kid it was 5 hours of torture (we lived and hour away), of course children find it boring. But I didn’t grow out of that, as an adult I also find myself counting the minutes until I can escape the crowded rooms with fluorescent flashing lights, screaming kids, the smiling and shaking hands. My favorite part of church is singing the hymns. I’ve been an adult now for 10 years, I use the term ‘adult’ loosely, meaning I was no longer a minor. But whenever I don’t have a calling that forces me to be at church I always stop going. I set the alarm every Saturday night but turn it off Sunday morning, promising to go next week.

I never think of myself as an ‘inactive’ but I’ve ended up on that list a few times. The first happened in college when the missionaries started coming to visit me. Just to hang out. It took awhile before I figured out they were trying to re-activate me, actually it was the day they took me out for ice cream and paid. I knew it should have happened the other way around. Then last year the branch president paid me a home visit and asked what it would take to get me back to church. I told him I needed a calling, so he gave me one.

When I begin gliding into an inactive phase, my spirituality drops. If I start swearing then I know I’ve been away too long. And everything in my life feels more difficult during these periods and my mood drops. Without fail, whenever I find myself thinking that everything is going wrong, I remember I haven’t been to church in a few weeks or months. So I drag myself back and once my attendance resumes, life gets easier and happier. I’ve now hit the point where I’m swearing and everything is falling apart. Time to go back to church. Yuck.

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a strong testimony. I keep most of the commandments. But the most difficult one for me is gathering together oft at meetings. Why is that? That seems very wrong. Is it just me or does going to church stink? I know I need it, but does it have to be so painful? And so early in the morning? I do have agoraphobia and extreme difficulty waking up in the mornings which adds to my abhorrance, but that’s not the whole of it. I know I should suck it up, stop complaining and get my rear-end back to church. But does anyone else out there feel the same way I do? Is there something we can do to make church less painful? There must be something I could do to make it better for myself at least, any suggestions?

Jen J