Sunday, March 13, 2011
Easy Like Sunday Morning?
Lionel Richie has obviously never been to my house on a Sunday morning. Seriously...easy? What was he singing about? Where does he live? Who does he live with? Really?
When my kids where little, we woke up on Sunday morning earlier than any other morning of the week. Why? Because we go to church. Now, my middle son really hated church when he was a toddler and his older, preschool brother loved to use it against him (I'll give an example soon...) Many a Sunday morning, to avoid a level nine meltdown, I would dress the church-hater in his sleep. That way we didn't have crying all the way to the House of the Lord. I believe I also used the Pop Tart bribery method.
I need to insert here the fact that when my middle son - or Number 2 - was in his toddler and preschool years he hated being left anywhere with anyone other than mommy or daddy. He was "our" boy and the only one of our three boys who ever was clingy. For those of you who have had your own "cling-on"...you know it is a very draining thing. I mean, we want our kids to love and miss us, but I don't know anyone who enjoys the process of prying a small child off of their leg just so one or the other can use the bathroom.
ANYWAY, back to the oldest using the church-hating against the middle guy. Number 2 would wake up sometimes on the way to church, look down, see the dress-up clothes and ask, "Where we going?"...and Number 1 would maliciously reply with a creepy-beyond-his-years, "To CHURRRCH!" Cue: wailing.
There was a season in which I got up at 5:30 AM just to get the three ready to be at church by 8 or 8:30 AM. And it's not like we lived 50 miles away from our church. It was more like five. One morning, when I was wearing a white dress (stupid, I know) my oldest asked, "Mommy, are you gonna' wear that poopie dress to church?" He wasn't implying that the dress was unattractive, he was simply addressing the fact that I was indeed wearing poop on the dress. You think the stink would've clued me in. That's how crazy my Sunday mornings were.
In addition to the mayhem of getting people out the door in excrement-free,dress-up clothing, we typically had an insane ride to our destination. These trips grew with intensity as the boys aged. One Sunday morning when the boys were about 10, 12 and 14, it was so bad that I pulled the car over on I-5 in the north of Seattle and said (loudly and crazily), "I know what you're thinking! You're all thinking, 'Sure, she's yelling at us and then she'll walk in the church doors and be all nice to people.'" I continued, "You bet I'm yelling at you and you bet I'll be nice to people at church! Why should I be upset or ugly to people at church when you're the ones who are being rude, disrespectful and hateful? Is it their fault you are making bad choices this morning? Well, IS IT?!" Cue: crickets chirping.
I looked at the three faces staring at me from the backseat and realized, though we were now most likely going to be late to church, that I had a teachable moment. "Look guys, I know Sundays can be a bit nutty. I know you may even think me hypocritical at times. But, here's the deal...whether your dad was a pastor or not, we'd be going to church. Whether we were in occupational ministry or not, our family would have the same guardrails. You see, we go to church because we have this awesome God who helps us so much that it is the very least we can do to set aside part of one day a week just to go and say, 'Thanks' and 'What can I do for You?'" I pressed on, "Also, every time you think me hypocritical, ask yourself this question, 'My mom is pretty crazy, what would she be like without God?'" The boys looked at each other with this, "Wow...never thought about that and it would be bad!" face that just about made me laugh out loud.
The oldest finally spoke up and said, "That actually makes a lot of sense, Mom. I get it." Don't you love when kids "get it"...those light bulb moments? I apologized to them for possibly being a little harsh, I also reminded them that I was human - though that was no excuse not to let God help me get better each day at being more like Him. I don't know about you, but I've expected too little from my kids at times. On that day, we turned a big corner and never looked back. It was a very good thing. After that, Sunday mornings didn't get easier, but they got way happier.
You see, I was honest with my kids. Not in a self-serving, make excuses, "deal with it" sort of way. But, in a way that my kids could not only swallow but that they could truly understand. I didn't say, "With God, I will now be the perfect mom!"...I said, "With God, I can be a way better mom than I can without Him, so let's get our fannies to church and say a big, collective, 'thanks' for helping our family be a little less crazy all the way around!"
Easy like Sunday morning? Whatever! Better for Sunday morning? Maybe...sometimes. Better because of Sunday morning...and Who and what it represents? Definitely.
If you haven't had your fanny (and I say this in all love)to church on a Sunday in a while...I understand. I lost that hour of sleep last night (thanks, daylight-savings-sleep-stealing people!)and barely got my own fanny up and out the door this morning. I also didn't have enough volunteers for the children's program I direct, which made it an even more "sunshiny" morning than usual. BUT, once I got there...once I saw some cute kids all happy to see me...once I had some cool people walk over and hug my neck and say, "Love ya', girl! How are you doing? What can I do for you?"...well, I was glad I rolled the fanny out of bed. (And if you've seen my fanny lately, you know this is no small feat!)
I also remembered today those words I had so vehemently told my boys that not-so-easy Sunday morning all those now many years ago, "...we go to church because we have this awesome God who helps us so much that it is the very least we can do..."
If you're a church faithful - good for you, but I'm not giving out any cookies and neither is God. Just stay faithful. Keep serving, loving and thanking. And if you're someone who is struggling to find a worship place or someone just struggling to faithfully get to one you've already found...pray for that awesome God's help. I mean in light of all He's done...it's the very least we can do.