In the past, when I have sat in a Church, I have seen it as a place where you need to be quiet in reverence. Rarely did I hear children talking or crying or screaming. Children must be seen and not heard, or something like that? Now that I have children and I think back to my many Church experiences, I did hear children. They talked. They cried. They screamed at times, too. It just didn't register with me. It wasn't important. It was a very small part of the whole Church experience. A non-issue.
Now that I am all grown up and I have two children with a mind of their own, every word spoken, every tear cried, every blood curdling scream seems to go through a giant amplifier and pierce through my Mama being. I have to consciously turn off the inner-warning that everyone is judging me, my parenting, and/or our presence there. Thankfully we go to a Church that is filled with imperfect people who are filled with a whole lot of grace and love. 99% of the time we are welcomed with open arms and an understanding that this is a season of life where it's difficult to get to Church on time. They know it's difficult to sit through a service with a one year old who seems to think she needs to be attached to her parents at all times and has hyperventilating anxiety attacks if we go near the toddler room for childcare. Our Church family recognizes that we see the importance of bringing our family to Church even though we may not get much out of the service. You may wonder why I say we are welcomed with open arms only 99% of the time? Because sometimes, as we all do, someone may have a bad day, or perhaps be a visitor, and make a hurtful comment about choosing the wrong place to sit, not so discreetly motioning to our lively little bunch. In my exhaustion, I swallow my just as hurtful retort, practicing grace that comes so un-naturally. I subtly give Jason that knowing look and we know that it may be a morning to spend the service in the foyer. That is a tiny 1% of the time and truthfully in this past year, it happened once, so that must be less than 1%, but I am not a mathematician.
Today, as we sat in Church and the whole set up was turned 90 degrees because of renovations, I got a whole new perspective on things. Not just my physical surroundings and presence in this different space, but my spiritual presence in this space and moment in life right now.
Yes, I realized that I was surrounded by a lot of people who were mighty gracious with us as our two little ones were just that: little ones. We shared giggles at their little antics. I got knowing smiles when we had to remove Olivia from the room because of a classic melt-down. Hearts were melted as Olivia sang out songs of worship to our King, adding her own little dance routine. She yelled out a few too early 'Amens' during prayer, letting everyone know that the prayer was long enough. I heard snippets of the sermon, memorized the scripture passages to locate later for contemplation, and let the words of the songs chosen fill my being, as my favourite instruments of worship were strummed and drummed in a simply eloquent way.
I was reminded that by being there, I would always receive teaching from the Bible.
I was reminded that through serving, community is received.
I was reminded that we are imperfect people, worshiping a perfect God.
I was reminded that God knows us best and He made us wonderfully (Psalm 139)
I was reminded through the joys and struggles of life, God is there. Always. (Psalm 16)
I was reminded that He knows our paths. He keeps us safe. (Psalm 16)
That's a whole lot of reminders considering the fact that there were little ones to distract me 100% of the time, but God has His way of getting the message, we are to receive, across to us. And on this first Sunday of 2014, when temperatures of -40 degrees (Fahrenheit or Celsius ~ take your pick) with the windchill, threatened me to beg for us not to step foot outside to get to Church, we still did. Because, we are learning that God wants us to go to His House and hang out with Him, no matter if it's -40, we only slept 2 hours at night, or just don't feel like it. He wants us to seek community with other Believers. He will open up a way for us to hear what we need to hear between the little voices, the little tugs, the cries and yes, the screams.
And THAT is why I went to Church today. I may have missed out on all of the deeper theological going ons of the sermon, but such is this season of life. In going, I heard the snippets God needed me to hear. In going, our children saw the importance of going to Church. In going, I felt the love of family. In going, I found JOY in His presence. Eucharisteo!
Now to find a way to warm up.