What’s causing young families to lose their faith? Sunday mornings, that’s what!
Do you remember when you were single or before children and thought about what Sunday mornings would look like?
Mom (or Dad) wakes up early, makes a nice hot breakfast. Kids cheerfully come to breakfast, excited for the Lord’s day. They are all be eager to get dressed in their neatly pressed, perfectly coordinating Sunday best. You have some resemblance to Jackie O in your stylish attire and heels. The family would load up in the car, the older kids helping the younger ones. You’d probably all join in some hymns or praise and worship music or may discuss a bible passage on the way to church, just to help prepare your hearts for the services.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure Lionel Richie wasn’t looking in my window when he sang “Easy like Sunday mornings!). I think something like this is a bit more realistic. This may or may not be based on actual events.
Let’s back up a bit and start with the night before. You dutifully get all kids bathed so as to be neat and clean for church. They fight and whine and complain about who gets the first bath, and who gets the last bath and who gets to use the fishy towel. Between bath time and bedtime, two of them have decided to do some coloring with markers and their hands are now multi-colored.
Ms. 8 year old will want you to put her hair in braids, and you do. They eventually go to sleep and you relish your “me-time” until way too late.
You feel as if you just laid your head down and the toddler begins to cry from his crib. You lay still, hoping maybe he’ll stop crying. Then you realize he’s not going to stop crying and you lay even more still in hopes that your husband will make the move to comfort him before you have to (Sorry, Phil!). Toddler is now joining you in bed for the rest of the night (er, restless of the night) because, well that’s the fastest way back to sleep.
Morning arrives, too early. You are awakened by children begging for breakfast as if they will surely die if it is not provided in 30 seconds. Daddy rises to duty, you try to steal a few more moments of sleep.One child wants toast, Daddy makes it. . . but said child wanted Mommy to make it so refuses it and instead asks mommy every 10 seconds if she’s ready to get up yet.
Ms. 8 year old has taken the braids out of her hair, now doesn’t like it, and cries for it be made straight again. Your hubby needs to clip his hair and shower. You need to shower and it’s now 45 minutes until you need to leave the house, the 5 year old is bouncing a ball loudly, the toddler is climbing on counters and taking everything out of the pantry, the 5 year old left the fridge open, the 8 year old is nibbling her food so slowly it’ll be next year before she finishes, the 3 year old is screaming because the toddler smashed his magnetic tile meow-a-bank (he’s all about cats).
Forget coordinated anything. You quickly grab any clothes that aren’t too wrinkled, fit “good enough” and don’t make your kids look like vagrants. Mr. 3 year old thinks it fun to make you chase him around the house. Then after being wrestled into clothing, immediately works to take clothing off. The toddler with the poopy diaper thinks you’d enjoy something akin to alligator wrestling while changing the diaper. The 5 year old is dressed and outside 20 minutes too early trying to get in the car, with the back door of the house left wide open and the toddler now getting into mischief on the back porch. Ms. 8 year old now has her hair straightened but is refusing to put on shoes that fit and proclaiming “I HATE church”. You manage to sneak 2 minutes to dry your own hair.
Next comes the “where’s your coat?”, “where did you leave your shoes?”, “No you can’t take that to church!”, and the “Come OOOONNN, we have to go!” The kids push and shove to be the first one out the door, then refuse to get in their carseats. As they do, you realize the marker from the night before all over their hands, the boys’ bedhead, and the crusty yogurt from breakfast on their face.
The car is now in motion with 4 kids buckled up. . .whew! The 3 year old wants to listen to kiddie music, the 5 and 8 year olds want the radio. The toddler just yells for fun. The 3 year old decides to sing his own delightful song with limited lyrics including: poop, poopy, pee, and butt crack.
And there you have it. . . Sunday morning. Parents are spent and they haven’t even walked into the church!
Is it really worth it? Maybe we just won’t fight the battles. Let’s just skip this week. . .and next week, and the week after that.
But wait, stop and think about this. Who wins if you skip church? Do the kids win? Do you win? Does God win? No, I’m afraid not. There is only one winner and that is the Father of Lies. The one who wishes nothing more than the destruction of your family, the distraction from our faith, the distortion of the Word.
Our kids are watching and learning. Will they grow up knowing that our faith was #1 in our lives, that Church is important (even when it’s hard), that Sundays are set aside for God? Or will they see that when things are hard, we just don’t do them.
Each small decision we make brings us closer to God or farther away from Him. We develop momentum, in doing what He wills and also in choosing the path the enemy lays out before us – the path of convenience, ease, avoiding the struggles to grow.
Once I begin thinking of getting to church (and through church, but that’s another post) as a challenge – a direct challenge against the enemy, I have a new sense of resolve.
We WILL go to church – Even if we barely squeak in before the opening hymn (or not)! Even if my kids look like homeless children who haven’t bathed in a week. Heck, I’m not sure if I’ve bathed this week!
But that is not what it’s about.
We need to set aside the fairy tale fantasy of our faith and just show up. God knows our struggles and our stress, we can come to Him with all the chaos of our lives. He longs for us to show up. His grace awaits us.
This is but a season in our motherhood. It won’t always be this hard. . . or maybe the hard will just change. But don’t let this be a season you sit out. You have too much to lose and too much to gain to sit on the sidelines. Even if the gains are imperceptible right now, they are real. Even if you can’t remember a thing from the sermon, you are better for being there and your children are better for you being there. Our Father in Heaven will reward our efforts, as imperfect as they are.
So to you, tired mama who wants to just throw in the towel and try again in a few years, I get it! Oh, do I get it! I know your struggle and I feel your stress. But to you I say, keep trying, show up, receive what He has for you! Come as you are and He will transform your heart, your faith, and your family!