Sometimes Church Is Just the Right Place to Be

I hardly ever get breakfast on a Sunday. 

By the time I reach the bottom of the stairs, the whirlwind begins. My efforts turn from fancying food to digging matching clothes for the kids out of the bottom drawers of dressers (and, being honest, laundry baskets), or to locating shoes that always seem to go missing only when you are in a hurry to leave the house.

I make every attempt to encourage my tiny-mouthed children to finish their breakfasts, and then we begin navigating through negotiations with one child to just brush.your.teeth. 

Sundays are ridiculous, even though they are supposed to be the most important day of the week. 

Sunday is a day for rest. 

Sunday is a day for family dinner and locking hands around grandma’s table. 

Sunday is a day for sliding into the pew at church, plastering a smile on your face and forgetting about what’s been eating you alive this week. 

Only it isn’t. 

I was a disgruntled worker these past few Sunday morning. Sometimes, the kids fling themselves out of bed with smiles on their faces, and it’s only their energetic exuberance for a new day that can make getting out the door that much more hectic. 

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Other days, someone’s tired, someone can’t even find a pair of pants, someone doesn’t want whatever it is I have prepared for breakfast (even though they asked for it specifically), and someone else doesn’t want to brush their teeth because the toothpaste “tastes like spinach.” 

Okay, well they were kind of right about that. But I can’t tell them that because they’ll never want to brush their teeth again. 

About five minutes before we needed to leave, and with wet hair still dripping down my shoulders from my shower nearly an hour before, I sent out a flurry of text messages to mom friends who were surely going through the same motions that morning. 

What is the point of going to church when you just want to pull your hair out? When you know you’re going to be more than twenty minutes late? When you’re so frustrated that listening to a sermon is the last thing you want to do??

In my frustrated state, church was the last place I wanted to be. 

We all finally made it to the car, me with my hair finally brushed and dried. I couldn’t even remember what was in the diaper bag that I hastily grabbed on my way out the door (hopefully at least one diaper), and I was just thankful that I had remembered to swipe my underarms with a stick of deodorant before leaving.

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I was flustered to say the least. I wanted to throw something. I wanted to punch the next person I saw with curled hair and an accessorized outfit right in the neck. 

Clearly, I was in the right frame of mind to be going to church. 

After circling the church for what felt like ten forevers, we settled on a parking spot several streets over. The husband was frantically looking for tissues when I left him behind with a tiny hand in each of my own to cross the street. He would bring up the rear with the fuzzy headed toddler who was wearing mismatched socks and no shoes. 

We were all finally seated together with enough time to make it through one worship song. One. 

“My life is not my own
To you I belong
I give myself, I give myself to you.

God has a sense of humor.

This is the Sunday morning rat race. Usually, no matter how early I wake up and grab a shower, no matter how quickly the children are outfitted and ready by the back door, something inevitably goes wrong. Being late is not a new thing for us, but it is something that eats me alive. 

When you’re inept with punctuation already, adding three children to the mix doesn’t help. I feel like I could quit my gym membership since I make about fifteen trips from the house to the car and back before we actually buckle our seat belts. 

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Yesterday morning, as I leaned forward on the pews, with what felt like a weight of bricks on my back as I recounted my missteps from the last week, I felt the hum of the saints singing and worshipping reverberate through the wood beneath my hands. 

How magical it is when one hundred gathered believers singing ends up sounding more like a thousand instead. 

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on anything other than myself, and I pictured the tiled ceiling and pendant drop lights being lifted away, a final wall between God and His followers breached. 

I knew that we were heard. 

It feels like when I’m in this funk that church is the last place that I want to be. I feel obligated to smile. I feel obligated to seem like I have it all together. Even when that is not the truth.

I wonder where this obligation sets in. I wonder why it is that we feel the need to hide, even though there is no hiding what we are going through, how we are feeling from our God. There is no hiding who we are from Him. He knew the stakes before we were even born.

Any pressure that we perceive before walking into church if all of our own making. There is no dress code in the Bible, there is no rule about punctuality. There is nothing in there that orders us to have it all together before we gather. 

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We are called to come, open and honest about ourselves as we listen to the message, as we take communion and as we fellowship. We are called to be glad because we are in His presence, not because we have our lives in order. 

We are called to focus on His goodness, not on our unworthiness. And He honors the heart that tries to be there as best as they can, gathered fully in the moment to Him. He desires oneness with us that we can only have it if we are honest with ourselves about who and what we are when we stand before the throne. 

We can sing with gladness when we know that after an imperfect week, with trial and failure each one after the other, God still stands. And He is still good. 

And,  as parents, we can also be thankful for the childcare offered for the service. Praise be to God. 

Have a wonderful week saints. 

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