Or, “How not packing a skirt prevented me from taking the sacrament”

Bryan and I went to a family reunion this past weekend. It was the first time I’ve seen everyone outside of our wedding reception two years ago. I got to catch up with Bryan’s sister, her kids and Bryan’s cousins who let us stay with them over the duration. We didn’t pack Sunday clothes as we planned on leaving the second we woke up on Sunday. I didn’t think anything about it until Friday night.

Bryan’s non-member mom threw out “I’ll come to church with you” in hopes to spend time with us before we left. It was the first time I’ve heard her mentioning anything religious. We didn’t pack any Sunday clothes was the response Bryan gave. In the back of my head I was wondering why it matters.

Why does Mormon culture prevent otherwise-attending members from coming? The entire purpose is to remember our Savior, and recommit ourselves to the constant challenge to always turn towards Him. Something so personal, so sacred, can’t all be based on a purely outward act of putting on a skirt Sunday morning, or in Bryan’s case a tie. Surely my own commitment to God is not tied to clothing. Right?

I’ve never seen a person come to church in jeans. I’ve heard of my evangelical friends saying they went to church in their sports uniforms before heading out to a community game right after. I’ve also heard of friends sharing the “come as you are” message rather than the “come as expected” pressure members’ face. Besides my brother, I’ve never seen anyone experiment with neon hair color. My brother was given permission to bless and pass the Sacrament by the Bishop so the naysayers had to sit quiet on that one. My parents kept reminding each other that if that was the worst of his teenage rebellion, they were getting off easy.

Is there something wrong with that?

Growing up, when went on vacation it usually meant we didn’t go to church. We didn’t pack church clothes, and we didn’t create our own sacrament in the hotel. Only one of my friends had a family with the consistency to follow the “No matter where we are, we’re still members” motto. Their family also happened to be well off and dad could afford to take time off for extended trips so there wasn’t the pressure to cram everything in a weekend. Is it a general custom to skip church when you’re on vacation because let’s face it you go on vacation to escape the daily life, not relive it in a new location?

“Come as you are” is what other churches say, why do we not do the same? Is it my own selfishness that prevents me from going to church in shorts when traveling? Has anyone, while on a tropical vacation, been to a service in swimsuits?