You walk into the kitchen and glimpse your husband beside the coffee maker. He’s standing there, motionless with his cup, not drinking it, but just staring out the window. You know there’s nothing astonishing in the backyard to behold. He’s simply in a morning trance. You sigh silently and trudge, fully dressed into the living room, leaving your spouse, still in his boxers, wasting time. This is how you see it.
In the next room the children sit transfixed on the television. They’re drinking the chocolate milk you made, eating the quick breakfast you prepared, and they haven’t even started to get dressed. On the couch, in neat stacks lay the clothes you laid out for everyone the night before. All they have to do is put them on.
And so goes Sunday morning.
You will have been up for hours already. You woke everyone with plenty of time to get ready, but when it comes down to it you know it will be like moving heaven and earth to get everyone out the door.
Someone will have to poop at the last minute, and if you have one in diapers they will definitely doodoo when it’s time to go. Usually after they’re strapped in the car seat.
Shoes will go missing, even if you set them out the night before.
Feet will outgrow shoes that fit a week ago, and hem lines that were fine last month will suddenly be far too short.
Someone will drop toothpaste on their shirt.
Your husband won’t move near as fast as you think he should. In fact, no one will understand the urgency of timeliness like you prefer.
You’ll encounter the worst tangle in your child’s hair of all time, and that will be after looking everywhere for the brush for far too long.
You won’t think your own outfit is flattering in the least, but you’ll still manage to throw something on in time to get out the door. The rest of the family, though, that’s another story.
It will seem like a personal conspiracy against you. No one will know how to button buttons, zip zippers, or undo knots. The mother of all wrinkles will appear on your pants, but don’t try to iron them, you’ll end up with one of those stubborn, hard water stains. Trust me.
The dog will need water, and so will everyone else. Then they’ll all have to pee.
The lights will all turn red, and your spouse will say something really annoying when you’re already on edge. You’ll think a time or two, “am I the only one that can do anything?!”
You’ll feel like you got ten people ready for church, just so you could be ten minutes (or more, if you’re me) late for service. When it comes time to get out of the car, everyone will move in slow motion. Like, super-slow motion. You’ll yell, and maybe not for the first time that morning. There might be tears. Maybe from the kids, maybe from you, maybe all of the above. You’ll rush into church with a smile plastered on your face, your heart raising from anger or anxiety, and ugly thoughts for that smart comment your husband made in the parking lot.
Why do you think getting ready for church on Sunday morning is so flipping hard?! Why are children especially uncooperative, tempers extraordinarily short, and Murphy’s Law so mean?
Do you think the Devil wants you happy on Sunday morning, or snapping at your spouse? What’s the best way Satan can keep you from really hearing the message the Lord has given your pastor? Why, by distracting you, of course. He’ll try to keep you out the door, period, but when that fails he finds it quite easy to close your ears to God’s word by filling your heart with anger. He’ll test your patience, stir discontent in your marriage, and whisper lies to your fragile mind.
Yes, lies! You’ll think it’s important that your daughter’s dress is pristine, that everyone’s shoes match, and that your own outfit is flattering and fashionable. You’ll focus on name brands over having a heart open to worship. You’ll be certain you do more on Sunday mornings than your partner, and you’ll also be extra sensitive to any comment that comes from his mouth.
More lies. You’ll actually believe that being five minutes late is the worst thing imaginable, that everyone is judging your holiness on how early you arrive or what seat you manage to land. This is the same Father of Lies who convinces you to whisper to your friend about what so-and-so is wearing that morning rather than sweeping your own front step.
You will actually, nine times out of ten, fall for these lies, and a morning in God’s House that could leave you spiritually charged and fulfilled, instead leaves you angry, exhausted, and empty. Church will feel like a chore, not a privilege, and you’ll only go out of some obligation you feel under the chokehold of religion. You won’t desire to go for more of Jesus.
Instead of training your children up in the way they should go you will teach them that church is a social event, a fashion show, a place to go and impress others. You’ll teach them that it’s not their heart that matters, or God’s opinion, but rather the opinion of man. You’ll show them angry parents who argue over frivolous matters, and they’ll equate Sunday with short fuses and silent treatments.
If Sunday morning is causing you distress it may be that you need a time out. The Sabbath was made for rest, not distress, and if Satan is distracting you from God’s best with Sunday morning stress, then maybe you should find your rest first. Cause the thing is, if you’re going to church angry then perhaps you might as well not go. Sure church is a great place to have the Lord break the chains of anger and anxiety, but if you’re too distracted to even let Him, then you need to recenter your focus. You need to re-evaluate what’s most important about Sunday morning. I’ll give you a hint; it’s not your wardrobe. It’s not even being on time, although that’s nice. It’s just hard with kids.
1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Here’s what’s most important. Love. And if you’re lacking in love on Sunday mornings then realize that Satan is distracting you from God’s best for you and your family. So when your children are just being kids, love them. They will learn more about God’s love through your actions at home. You can take them to Sunday school all you want, but the best lessons of love are taught at home. They can see Jesus best through your grace.
When you want to snap at your spouse, stop and consider what’s important. Is arriving five minutes sooner worth marital strife?
When you want to stress over perfect, matching outfits, stop and consider what garment is most beneficial. The Proverbs 31 Woman is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the insanity of missing shoes and surprise stains.
When you want to become upset over your own appearance or body image, stop and consider what God is looking for when you walk into His house. In His eyes you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He’s looking at your heart, not your hips. So if you’re becoming too concerned over how you appear outwardly at church, realize you’re serving man, not the Lord. It’s ok. We’re all a work in progress. Don’t take it as condemnation, take it as loving conviction from a Father who just desires your worship, not your best attire.
Ask yourself, is Satan stealing your Sunday mornings? It’s a question only you can answer, and it’s a struggle most of us face. So if you find yourself more irritable and stressed on Sunday mornings than anything then maybe it’s time for a heart change. Sundays are made for rest. It’s time to find it.