Often I get to church feeling as though I need to skip Sunday School, walk straight up to the sanctuary, down the center aisle, and kneel at the altar to pray. Does this sound a bit dramatic? Maybe, but if you have children and you’re a church-goer, I’m betting (or maybe just hoping!) that I’m not the only one. What is it about Sunday that is so very hard? We don’t have to be anywhere before 9:45, yet inevitably, we are late. Every time. Every. Single. Time. Be assured that someone can’t find their shoes, someone doesn’t like what they are wearing, someone gets undressed before we even get out of the door, someone has a dirty diaper, someone resorts to yelling, someone ends up crying, and at times the latter two are me!
After wrestling children into clothes and shoes they don’t want to wear, I’ll be in the bedroom frantically looking for my other shoe (and wondering why there is never a matching pair of anything in my house—shoes, socks, hair barrettes, earrings, etc.), and overhearing this conversation in the living room as it escalates to a full blown, screaming fit.
Don’t hit me!
I didn’t hit you. I tapped you.
Well, don’t tap me! I don’t want to be tapped!
Mama, he hit me!!
I didn’t hit you; I tapped you!
Well, I don’t like to be hit or tapped!!
Seriously? Would it be wrong for me to hire a babysitter to stay here with the kids while I go to church? I wake up on Sunday mornings yearning for a worshipful, peaceful Sunday and within hours, or even minutes, I want to crawl back in the bed and pull the covers up over my head.
Yes, Sundays with kids can be hard. I usually arrive at church feeling frazzled and looking like I’ve been in a wrestling match and lost: hair spilling out of bun, scarf untied and flapping around my head, one earring missing, one toddler on the hip, one preschooler pulling on my clothes, one purse dangling from the shoulder, one diaper bag forgotten in the car, two coats (that have already been removed) stuffed under my arm, oh and don’t forget my Bible (which I desperately need to read right now) freshly fallen in a puddle of rain!
Oh boy. Surely I’m not the only one. Surely others find the Sunday morning routine to feel a bit like training for an Olympic event for which there is no hope of a gold medal! I do often give a big sigh when I finally make it into that beautiful sanctuary (children safely in children’s church) and sit on those sturdy, old, burgundy pews. I close my eyes for just a moment thinking of the morning’s chaos. I open them and look around at God’s house full of sweetly familiar faces. Organ music fills the space, and I take a deep breath. Then this thought settles in my soul: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And I wonder. Am I glad? Am I grateful? Am I joyful? And I inhale deeply and exhale slowly, letting go of the chaos and the frustration. Letting go of the desire for that perfect Sunday. Letting go of the shame for feeling like a failure. Letting go of the angst, and the fear, and the guilt, and the worry. Just letting go.
This is the day; the only day that I have. And I pray, “Thank you God for this day. Forgive me for taking it for granted. Help me to rejoice and to be glad in it.”