Being “just sick enough” means that you’re just barely sick enough to legitimately opt out of meetings, bail on assignments, and no-show at social obligations. However--and this is the key--it’s not sick enough to be miserable. You’re just coughing and blowing your nose so much that it really doesn’t make sense to sit next to people through three hours of church. But you can still enjoy reading a book or watching TV or playing a board game or even walking your dog. That’s what it means to be “just sick enough.” And I love it.
We had a great weekend of me being just sick enough. And since I’m also incredibly self-absorbed when I’m even remotely sick, I also forced the whole family to skip church, to say no to invites from friends, and to opt out of all other activities that weren’t centered around keeping me happy.
On Saturday evening, Olivia actually feigned some concern that maybe she was also coming down with something. But I just laughed because there was no need for her to be fake sick. I was already just sick enough for all of us to stay home!
So we all slept in on Sunday to celebrate my illness. When I finally woke up at about 10 AM, I nudged Wendy and said, “Can you believe that if we weren’t Mormons, every Sunday would be like this?”
But the truth is that it wasn’t that great of a day.
We did have some fun and it was nice to relax. But I ended up having to go to Wal-Mart, and that was much worse than church could ever be. Plus I genuinely missed out on the opportunity to worship, sing, share, listen, reflect, and serve. By the end of the day, I just felt a bit stale.
Then the rest of the week stunk.
This was a hard week at work. Having a four-day work week really just means that I end up with four 15-hour days instead of my normal five 12-hour days. But it was more than that. I was also missing the spiritual grounding that I try to establish on Sunday and carry with me through the week.
Each Sunday evening, I try to sit down and specifically map out priorities for my week. Needless to say, I didn’t take any time on Sunday to prioritize this week. I didn’t even plan my travel or my office rotations like I normally would.
When I opened up my laptop on Tuesday morning, I wasn’t just disorganized and lost in a pile of unsorted requests. I was unsettled spiritually and unmotivated by the things that normally drive my daily work. This made the work more tiresome. It made me more short tempered and more belligerent. And it left me feeling less satisfied not just with the work itself, but also with the general direction of my career and life.
By Thursday morning, I was a complete wreck. I was in a hotel facing a demanding day of out-of-state meetings on very little sleep and with too much anxiety to eat breakfast.
That’s when I realized that I hadn’t said a personal prayer all week. We had kept up with our nightly family prayer. But I had not knelt alone and prayed even once, and here it was Thursday morning!
Praying is a unique act. It’s a way for us to align our desires with God’s desires for us. And it’s real work. Like all kinds of work, there are specific outcomes associated with it that are impossible to obtain without actually doing the work.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Amulek reminds us to pray continuously for our families, for God’s mercy, for protection from our enemies, and for the prosperity and success of our crops, flocks, and fields. Of course I don’t raise sheep or farm grain, but this passage reminds me that God is mindful of the work I do and wants me to do it well. With God’s direction, I can understand and prioritize the specific actions, decisions, and relationships that will best support the prosperity of my own “crops” and “flocks.”
I realized on Thursday morning that had I not missed church on Sunday, I would have been a lot more likely to have kept up with my daily prayers—and the whole week might be going a lot better at this point.
I immediately knelt at my bed and prayed. It was wonderful. I prayed to understand and meet the needs of some employees who were struggling. I prayed to present myself and my company well in my several meetings. I prayed for peace of mind during tough questioning. I prayed for physical endurance without overindulgence on sugar and caffeine to get through the long day ahead. And I prayed for the protection and wellbeing of my family in my absence.
The day was as grueling as I knew it would be. But it went exceptionally well. On Friday, I received a very kind email from a colleague regarding both the success of the meetings and general operations in the area. My boss was copied on the email and replied simply, “That is worth ending the week on….have a great weekend!”
As we wake up early this Sunday morning to put the pot roast in the crock pot, iron the shirts, find the shoes, and prepare the lessons, I’m so very grateful for this wonderfully hectic Sunday routine. I’m grateful for the day I’ll have today singing and thinking and being challenged to grow intellectually and spiritually. I’m grateful for the foundation it creates for the remainder of my week to rest on. And I’m aware more than ever of the great success that’s available to me—even personal and professional success--when I begin my week this way.
In the October 2013 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dieter Uchtdorf imagined a hypothetical conversation wherein two Mormons are trying to explain the church to a stranger. They explain that there are three hours of church every Sunday, plus assigned callings, monthly home and visiting teaching, 18-month or 24-month full-time missions, weekly family home evening, regular humanitarian service, frequent teaching assignments, at least monthly temple work, and semi-annual 10-hour conferences. Then they add, “We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”
Astounded, the stranger replies, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”
And then the couple smiles and replies, “We thought you’d never ask.”