"Gather it six days, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there is none. " And it came to be that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And YHWH said to Mosheh, 'How long shall you refuse to guard My commands and My Torot? See, because YHWH has given you the Sabbath, therefore He is giving you bread for two days on the sixth day. Let each one stay in his place, do not let anyone go out of his place on the seventh day.' So the people rested on the seventh day. - Exodous 16:26-30
The New Year is upon us and this year I've been quite reflective of Sabbath Day activities. Our local leaders have fallen suit in encouraging us to keep the Sabbath Day holy, per the recommendations and encouragement from the First Presidency. All good things, right?
Several years ago, we had lived in Utah, and as taught and encouraged then too, we sought to spend the Sabbath together as a family. This translated in my brain to mean that "friend" activities would be excluded, although home teaching/visiting teaching was questionable. Depending on the ward or how they remembered (or forgot) the First Presidency letter from years ago (encouraging us NOT to do this on Sunday), I may or may not feel it appropriate to allow my kids to play with their friends on Sunday.
Well in this ward, during this time, I felt it my duty to keep our family tightly knit together, alllll day. I hoped we could read scriptures and watch church videos and all those wonderful things. Except that in large measure, we didn't do these things, and my kids began to resent that I didn't let them play with their friends. After all, what were we doing that was any different than any other day, with exception of not going shopping?
On more than one occasion, I declined a friend to play with my son. At the time the main boys coming to play were dealing with things at home. One did not have a father in the home. Not my business, really. The other two would come over and inevitably my son would end up with bumps and bruises, due to their fist fights or hill rolls or some other battles with Light Sabres or plastic swords. I didn't appreciate them as much as I should have, and would send them home, saying we were doing things as a family that day.
Shortly after (or perhaps even during) this time, those latter two boys had their father leave their mother for another woman. And the boys jointly got diagnosed with varying Autism spectrum disorders, making a lot of their behavior more understandable. I was so judgmental.
Since moving out of that area, these boys have also wound up in the care of the state or other agencies. I don't know all the details, but their mother (and my friend) frequently posts on Facebook, asking for prayers or help dealing with the hurt of her situation. How she wishes the boys could come home to live with her. How she longs to find a suitable husband (and father) for her boys, and she wishes that their own dad would pay them just the slightest bit of attention. They just wanted love.
I look back on this period with quite a bit of regret. At present, where we live, there are also boys with which my son can play, however at this point, the roles are reversed. The parents of these new local boys are largely disinterested in having their sons play with mine. My son is seen as a little more "rough" or in some ways, distasteful (thank you autocorrect for turning the word "fine" into "fag" in that text).
So now my son looks forward to seeing his friends at Church on Sunday. Only the friends from Church are likewise ardent believers that to keep the Sabbath Day holy, they must retain their time together as a family, not sending their boys out on playdate trades. I miss those years when I was a kid when my mom sent me to another family's home half an hour away, because they were good people she trusted me to be with. And I look back on those years when I too wouldn't let my boy play on Sunday, and realize that the law of restoration is real. What we give out is returned to us again, sometimes in this life and sometimes in the next. But inevitably it is returned, in some way.
More than once have I wondered if those boys were coming to my home because they sensed something there beyond my son, perhaps something that they were longing for in their own home? Or perhaps they just wanted to play, and a boy up the street = fun! But I sent them away, in lieu of keeping the Sabbath holier than playing somehow allowed.
Repentance is a wonderful thing – I am thankful to the Lord that I have another day to seek His forgiveness, and theirs and their mother's, for my piousness and unrighteous judgment. I wish I could do more.