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Room for One More

I want you to brace yourselves for a stunning revelation. Are you braced? Well, find a table or a door frame or a General Authority to hold on to. Ready? OK...

I teach Gospel Doctrine in my ward.

STEADY! Breathe into a paper bag if you have to. And while you're recovering from that shock, let me assure you that "DeNae teaching others about the Old Testament" is not, as some have suggested, a sign that in the last days even the very elect will be deceived. It's not very nice of my mom to keep telling people that.

Anyway, I shared yet another revelation with my class this week: The door, which I face every week as I teach, has a window in it. A window made of glass, and not, as a ferinstance, burlap.

Which means I can see people walking around the halls. During Gospel Doctrine. During MY class! Can you BELIEVE it?? What is UP with THAT?? (Hang on, something's wrong with my caps key...)

The thing is, I'm not boring. And the folks inside the classroom know that. I'm like the ward sideshow; members bring their friends, pay a quarter to the ringmaster, and find a front-row seat to watch the circus tumble by.

I absolutely ADORE the scriptures. There never has been a time in my life when they weren't fully real to me. And I love gospel discussions, love studying and preparing for my classes every week (grab that G.A. again: I also teach Institute), love everything about the doctrines of this wonderful church.

And in Sunday School, people, we are having a GREAT TIME!

But, for the sake of argument, suppose we weren't. Suppose things were a little in my classes. (That's not hard to imagine; tornado chasing is often more sedate than my classes.) Assume, for just a brief, terrifying moment, that my lessons were...dull.

OK, stop! Stop! Don't ever do that again!

But here's the question: If that frightening scenario were real, would that justify all the hall-wandering I'm witnessing through that definitely-not-burlap window every Sunday? Would it suddenly be all right to see the whole Elder's Quorum Presidency, or the Young Women's Presidency, scuttle by on their way to a quick meeting?

Because, guess what: I do.

I went to church last week in a foul humor. Truly. Foul. If moods were menu items, mine would have been "skunk and gym sock gazpacho". Testimony meeting was good, but I wasn't having any of it. I knew I was grumpy and I knew I had to be prepared spiritually for my class, and honestly, I was starting to panic.

I offered up a quick prayer along the lines of "I'll cut back to three Diet Cokes a week just pleaseohpleaseohplease keep me from looking like an idiot during Gospel Doctrine amen," and began the lesson on the difference between Abel's sacrifice and Cain's, and why one was acceptable and the other was not.

And wouldn't you know it, this amazing discussion just unfolded, carried on by people I barely know socially but with whom I share a deep spiritual bond. And of course, like we hope all of these stories end, I came away from it humbled and healed and so much better for having been in the room.

That's the point, gang. We were in the room. We weren't wandering the hall, or gabbing in the foyer, or finishing our own lessons for the next hour's classes. We were where we were supposed to be during that hour - just as Primary workers are where they are supposed to be, and the youth and their teachers are where they are supposed to be.

And thirty-five minutes after we entered that room, we left it - as different people. Thirty-five minutes, in and out. Thirty-five minutes we'll never be able to reproduce, and which were lost to everyone out in the hall.

I'll tell you why I was in the classroom that day: I had a job to do whether I was in a rotten mood or not. I don't know why all those other people came to class. Habit? Obedience? Caught before they could make their getaway to the nursery? All I know is, I sure am glad they were there.

"Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." (D&C 50:22)

But you gotta be in the room first. There's no other way for it to work.

You gotta be in the room.


DeNae has spent the better part of the last twenty years serving as a Gospel Doctrine, Seminary, and Institute teacher, as well as a music composer, arranger, and teacher. In her spare time she does free-lance writing, and has published one book, "The Accidental Gringo". She is working on two more books; one fiction and one collection of humorous essays. When she's not lobbying for a law making it illegal to bring up Diet Coke when discussing the Word of Wisdom, she stays busy with four nearly-grown kids, the boy next door whom she married 25 years ago, a house that refuses to stay clean, and a dog who somehow manages to shed twice her own weight in fur every single day. You can read her stories and essays, most of which are true or at least marginally plausible, at "My Real Life Was Backordered", the blog she started a year ago as an excuse to ignore the laundry.

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