When Taking Your Kids to Church Makes You Lose Your Religion
Still. More. “Whispering.”
At this point the pastor had glanced down at us more than once and was, I’m sure, silently praying that my child would pass out and remain incapacitated for the remainder of this reverent service.
I yanked my son over onto my lap and whispered in his ear, as any good mother would, “When we get home, there is going to be a MAJOR consequence for your behavior. Now sit COMPLETELY quietly, NO WHISPERING.”
Right then, my seven-year-old son picked up my littlest guy’s paper, the one covered in butts, and started to fold it into a paper airplane. My youngest lost his ever-loving mind. Tears started flowing, and all he could think about was his paper.
“He has my paper! That’s MY paper! I want my paper back! Hey, GIVE IT BACK! That’s mine!” All said in a stage whisper, which by now we all know isn’t a whisper at all.
I whispered a frustrated, “COME ON,” to all of the kids, grabbed my youngest up, and rushed toward the door of the chapel, shooting a few cursory apologetic glances people’s way. As I got to the door, I turned around to see the other three children still sitting on the pew, staring at me along with the rest of the crowd. I shot them a death glare and motioned to them to follow me. This time they obeyed, smart kiddos that they are.
We made it through approximately fifteen minutes of a church service before everything went to pot, and while I wish I could pretend that it’s not a common scenario for the Watts family, you all know I’d be lying.
As we drove home, I found myself frustrated, silently and indignantly telling God how HE should have ordained that experience to have gone differently. “God, I was showing up FOR YOU. I showed up so my kids and I could focus on YOU during this crazy season, and You just let it all fall apart! I’ll remember that next time I singlehandedly load up all the kids and take them to church. Next time I’ll remember that, and I just WON’T GO. It’s not worth it.”
And then, as He always does, He gently reminded me how broken I am. So. Broken. He whispered to my soul, “My child, I DID ordain this moment, as I do every moment. You think you came to honor me, I know, but what if I told you that you needed to come so I could show you how broken you are. You’re indignant with me right now, sure that I failed you, when you should be self-reflecting, seeing your own need for redemption in the ugliness that this situation unearthed in your heart. I accomplished just what I intended to in that fifteen minutes. Your kids saw people love and worship and sacrifice for me, and you saw your desperate need for a risen Savior.”
And with that, I realized that I’d had church just as I’d needed to, just as it was intended to be.
Worship songs and communion speak to my heart, to be sure, but my own anger and sense of entitlement spoke louder in that moment. Words about Lent and Easter and the need for Jesus resonated, to be sure, but my own depravity is what ultimately made the impact on my heart tonight.
Sometimes He uses beautiful music and inspiring words and reverent silence to move us a step closer to Him. Other times he uses hyper kids and butt drawings and stage whispers, and maybe our own selfishness and sin. And it’s never, ever a mistake.
This post originally appeared at Feel Free to Laugh! Follow Feel Free to Laugh on Facebook.