Every Sunday, sacrament meeting is a sacred experience that we look forward to participating in. It’s a time for quiet reflection of God’s many blessings, especially the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. During this meeting, we are counseled to be reverent. Most of us try to be on our best behavior. We do our best to feel the Spirit, think of the Savior, and learn from the speakers, until we hear a child scream and an apologetic mother hushing the child.
The next scene is only to be expected—people turn their heads to see whose child it is.
Some of us might look just out of curiosity, while some might intentionally do so to signal the mothers to quickly calm their kids down. But whatever our reason for looking, LDS mothers have one plea: DON’T LOOK.
Don’t look as if they are not already trying their best to control the situation. Don’t look thinking that they have not disciplined or taught their kids enough. Don’t look as if they are the culprit of irreverence at church. Don’t look as if they are doing something wrong. Don’t look because they are probably already discouraged and wondering if all these things are true.
In reality, they probably have prepared for Sunday long before many others do. They probably have reflected on things that they could improve on in advance, knowing that their kids will not permit a quiet moment of reflection at church. They probably have kneeled and prayed for patience for another rough day at church, and for understanding from the ward members when their kids get out of hand. They probably have pled throughout the week for Heavenly Father to grant them even just a few quiet moments of sacred reverence at church.
Mothers with young ones, just like any of us, also want to have a reverent and fortifying spiritual experience at church. During sacrament meeting, they also want to participate in this sacred ordinance and ponder its significant just as much as we do. Their desire to learn from the speakers might be just as deep as ours. They, too, want to sit reverently and feel the Spirit of the Lord.
So the next time we are tempted to look, let’s do our best to restrain ourselves. Our rule should be to look only when we are willing to leave our seats and help them out. If we are willing, we can even look around before sacrament meeting starts and evaluate which mothers might possibly need some help. A mother whose husband is helping to bless or pass the sacrament could be a good candidate. A single mother who is taking care of her kids alone, a bishop’s wife who has toddlers, or even a grandmother who brought her grandkids to church might need an extra hand.
There are many ways that we can make our Sunday attendance at church more meaningful. One of which is simply not to look when a child starts to scream, or to look and extend a hand to those mothers who might need some help.
Lastly, it is important to note that reverence does not necessarily equal silence. “A reverent attitude toward God includes honoring Him, expressing gratitude to Him, and obeying His commandments.” Although silence adds to the desired reverence we want to feel at church, we must never feel that our Sunday experience is ruined because of a screaming child. The Savior Himself has nothing but love and gratitude for these little ones at church who are still learning.
Ultimately, our Sunday experience largely depends on our spiritual preparedness to feel the Spirit, receive revelation, and remember the Savior.