I couldn’t help but smile again this past Sunday. A young couple walked into service with their toddler son. He was adorable. He was full of smiles. He was full of words. And he was full of wiggles. As the service began, I saw their hushing begin. It started with a gentle look and a soft touch to their lips. As the service proceeded, though, the wiggles got bigger and the reminders got stronger. It wasn’t long before they were taking turns holding him and trying to keep him in the pew, and their faces said they were counting the seconds till it was all over.
I remember those days. Sometimes I think I’m still in those days with a certain, young, distracto-boy. I remember walking out of church completely exhausted and thinking, “When did Sunday service become a full-contact sport?” I recently received a text from a friend saying, “You once referred to church as a full-contact sport. You were right.” She included a picture of her young kids spread across the pew.
I have been thinking about these two moms this week and about all the moms currently going through this. There are all the usual things I could say:
But he is so cute. He is fine.
You’re going to miss this.
Enjoy every moment. They grow so fast.
But I’m not going to say those things. I’m not going to say them because they don’t help. They tend to make people mad, and I have never understood our culture’s fascination with glorifying the baby/toddler years. Remember them, but let’s not live in them! I want my kids to grow. I want to enjoy each new, lovely, crazy phase and see the adults they become.
Instead, I am thinking about the things I wish I could plant in the hearts of all moms. Mainly, I’m thinking of that one thing that I wish I had known and understood sooner. We did not become Anglican until our youngest was born. We had gotten our girls through the wiggles and were about half-way through dealing with our son’s when this phrase in Sunday service began to stand out to me:
“And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies,
to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee…”
It dawned on me one Sunday as I listened to these words. Well, it dawned on me as I listened to them while complaining to God (again) about how I wasn’t getting what I needed out of church. I had spent all those years apologizing to God for being distracted, for not knowing where we were in the service, for leaving and not being able to repeat one thing from the sermon. (That last one may not seem like a big deal, but it is when your husband is the one preaching and wants a conversation about the homily over the dinner table.) All those years feeling guilty. All those years leaving feeling more drained than when I entered.
I had missed it, and it was right there. What I experienced every Sunday WAS my sacrifice. Coming in those doors, holding kids accountable, trying to catch my own thoughts and focus in the midst of toddler life was a very reasonable sacrifice. I hadn’t missed my chance to serve and grow. I was living it. Maybe it didn’t feel good. Maybe it was exhausting. Maybe it wasn’t what I thought I wanted or needed. But would it have been a sacrifice otherwise?
So, dear sisters, I want to encourage you as you live your own sacrifice. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is a full-contact sport some days. You ARE a LIVING sacrifice. Hang on. Fight the good fight. The results are worth it. For your children…and for you.
And, if we happen to be in church together, maybe hand me your cute, adorable, little angel once in a while. Because we are one body, and you don’t have to do this alone…
...a self-avowed "Wander Woman," homeschools her three children while traipsing the globe with her Army Chaplain husband. Her third greatest passion, falling below her love for God and family, is empowering other parents to teach their children.