Magnifying the Ordinary

By Jonna M. Forbes

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    Finding spiritual experiences at home

    It is 6:00 A.M. After being up every hour or two through the night caring for a sick baby, I am roused from slumber by a wide-eyed, chubby-cheeked little fellow demanding peanut butter on toast. From that point on, the day’s tempo picks up as I handle the demands, crises, and emergencies of a busy husband, six active children, Church callings, school volunteer work, and other commitments.

    Because I give away so much spiritual and emotional energy, I know that I need to make a special effort to refill my reservoir. I want to do this—and I intend to—but it usually takes a backseat to everyday urgencies. My solution is to use ordinary events to help me recharge spiritually.

    For example, reading scriptures lifts me. It is also something I do each night with my family. But instead of rushing through scripture time so I can get the kids to bed, I try to put as much thought into it as if I were studying by myself. I recall a time when a verse sparked a gospel discussion on the Second Coming. The Spirit was strong. Our oldest child was no more than seven, yet I felt as uplifted as if I had just listened to a session of general conference.

    Listening to my children’s prayers is another thing I do almost every night. Some nights, my mind inventories all that I need to do as soon as prayers are over; I listen just enough to be able to say “amen” at the right time so I can scoot each child off to bed. But on other nights, when I focus my attention on the one praying and listen with my heart, I am renewed spiritually. I love to hear my three-year-old thanking Heavenly Father for his toys in one sentence and for the prophet in the next, or my young daughter giving thanks for “all the wonderful things that happened today” on a day I had thought was very ordinary. Feeling the sincerity and faith in these words softens my spirit and helps to renew my faith.

    Serving others replenishes my reserve of spirituality because it helps me to feel charity, which brings me closer to our Father in Heaven. The things I do for my family every day are acts of service, yet too much of the time I see them as chores to be finished as quickly as possible. But when I change my perspective, I am amazed at how my spirituality grows.

    For example, when I help my children clean their rooms, or when I insist that they do other jobs, I am really teaching them about keeping order in their lives. Fixing my daughters’ hair is a task I like to put behind me quickly each day. But if I remember that I am helping them to look their best so they can feel good about themselves, then I realize what a service I am providing. While cleaning bathrooms and scrubbing floors, if I remember that I am making our home into a little heaven, in appearance as well as in atmosphere, then the drudgery of housework becomes an important act of service.

    Someday, I will be able to set aside blocks of time for spiritual recharging. But until then, I can look at my “ordinary” activities from a higher perspective. When I do, they can fill me.

    Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker

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    • Jonna M. Forbes serves as Primary secretary and works in the Family Record Extraction Program in the Santa Clara Fourth Ward, Santa Clara Utah Stake.