I have a confession.
We don’t attend church nearly as often as we’d like to.
And it’s because of our farm.
You see, Bart has work to do every morning. And some mornings, it’s a lot of work. When our barns are full, he has 4 to 6 hours of chores every single morning.
We have a hired man who works Monday – Friday. But Bart believes, as the owner of the farm, that HE should be the one to give up his weekends to work. And so, while he may have help with those chores Mon-Fri, on Saturdays and Sundays, he’s on his own.
Which means that I’m on my own, with two little boys for Sunday School and church. And I’m sorry, friends, but I just can’t do it every week. I decided one morning, after screaming at my children to get them out the door on time for Sunday School, that it’s just not worth it. It wouldn’t matter what they learned in Sunday School that day after getting off to such a rough start.
And so, I’m working hard to give myself some grace. In a perfect world, we would attend church every week as a family, but I’m okay with the fact that we don’t do that often right now. My boys are young, and honestly, the church service must sound like a foreign language to them. My youngest is naturally very active and always has been. Asking him to sit still (and quiet!) for an hour is like asking him to cook Thanksgiving dinner. It’s just not possible. And, let’s face it, while I’m working hard to shush my boys and keep them quietly distracted, I’m not getting much of anything out of the church service, except frustration.
I’ve decided, quite frankly, that having a mother who models Jesus’s love and patience is more important than learning to sit still and quiet for an hour. If I could do both, I would. But I am an imperfect mom (aren’t we all?) and I just can’t do it every week.
The older members of our church are always telling me how much they love seeing kids in church, and that the boys’ noise doesn’t bother them. And I want to ask them if they’ll sit with my kids, so that I can worship God without distractions. Because some weeks, I need church. I need to hear the pastor’s words and sing the Doxology with my whole heart. And I can’t do that when I’m reminding a 3 year old to use his whisper voice.
Other parents have told me that their kids sit still in church from a young age because they were taught to. They made church a routine and the kids learned at an early age how to behave. Sorry, friends, but I don’t buy it. Kids are different. Your child may sit still because they are more naturally inclined to do so. But for my little Hurricane Isaac, it’s not appropriate to expect him to do so. In fact, ask any preschool teacher if they would make a three year old child sit still and quiet for an hour. They will answer, without a doubt, that it is not developmentally appropriate to expect that. Yes, practice helps. But no matter how many times I hand a newborn a pair of scissors, they will NOT learn how to cut a straight line. I know, from my experience as a teacher, that trying to teach a child something that is beyond their reach is frustrating for both parties.
And so, this is the phase of life we’re in. My husband is unable to attend church with our family most Sunday mornings, and I’m unable to remain patient and loving while trying to force my youngest child to do something that is completely inappropriate for his age and temperament.
This phase is not ideal, but it’s also not permanent. In a few more years, our oldest son will help Bart chore (right now, when he “helps,” chores end up taking more time, not less) and things will be different.
But for now, I know that God forgives me for all of my shortcomings, and I’m trying hard to do the same.
In the end, on Sunday mornings, that’s all that matters.
(Well, that and whether or not the turkeys are cared for.)
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