Your Inactive Neighbor

It's been awhile since I've written anything! I feel like my mind these days is a big jumble of, "When did I feed Dayen last?" "Is he ready for a nap?" and "Oh good, this shirt made it five whole minutes spit-up free!"
But this is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Last month I gave a talk in church about how we need to treat each other better and be more welcoming, and this sort of goes hand in hand with that. It always has something to do with how we treat each other. But I want to talk more about church activity.
The thing is, we know our church isn't easy. I certainly didn't join the church because it was the simplest church out there with the shortest meetings. Our faith requires a lot of us. It's all worth it, but it's difficult, and sometimes nearly impossible, to do all that is asked of us.
About a year ago our wards had just split and I had a new calling in the Young Womens. I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy and I was sick all the time. We had 9:00 church and when I think back on those early meetings, my stomach still turns. It was rough. I missed a lot, I called substitutes a lot, I went to five minutes of class before rushing home a lot. I always felt bad, like everyone secretly thought I was trying to get away with doing as little amount of work as possible.
Since then, I've noticed there isn't a lot of forgiveness or understanding for inactivity in the church.
Now, I get it. We all have our agency. Ultimately, the choice to come or not come to church is up to you.
But in my experience, it is almost never a simple, black and white decision to just suddenly stop coming. It is usually complicated and personal. Because let's just say it: it is HARD sometimes. Sometimes the difficulties seem to outweigh the good that comes from it. Sometimes you work late on Saturdays and can't imagine dragging yourself out of bed for early church. Sometimes we get offended or upset. For me, the struggle lately has been having a 4 month old at church. He won't nap anywhere but in his own bed, and he still eats often enough that it's impossible not to have to feed him at some point during that 3 hour block. Sometimes dragging him to church feels like unnecessary torture for everyone involved.
It is not up to anyone in my ward to save me from jumping off that cliff, from saying to heck with it, I am never going back. BUT, sometimes it feels like all it would take is one tiny nudge to send me flying over the edge.
So what about those people in your ward who are in that position? Those who rarely come to church, or who used to, but haven't been back in years?
We focus so much on bringing in new converts, but what about the lost sheep who have fallen away?
I know it's not always in our power to do anything. But I can say that what makes a huge difference to me is knowing that I am missed. So try that. We don't have to hound them every second, but wouldn't you be more excited about going to church on Sunday if you knew you'd have someone to sit by? Wouldn't you feel more apt to go if you knew that certain sister in the ward was going to text you afterwards if you didn't show, just to see if you are ok?
I can promise you that whatever their reason is for not coming, whether it seems legitimate to you or not, they do have one. There is not a Sunday that goes by that they don't think about where they know they should be that day. Most of them long to go back, and tell themselves one day they will.
And isn't that really what it means to go and be the Lord's missionaries? Here in Utah, at least? Here, where just about everyone has heard of the church? Here, where Satan picks at our weaknesses little by little until he can break us?
It is hard. It is so hard sometimes to drag myself and my family out the door to make it to church. But it is always, always worth it. This gospel means so much to me, and to many who are in it. So rather than judging those who no longer come to church, why not find out why they stopped in the first place? Why not be the helping hand that guides them back? Imagine the blessings for everyone involved if we could all do that.