So I’ve been visiting churches. I didn’t want to mention it because I didn’t want anyone to get too excited.
I know who I am. I know God. I love Him. My honest desire is to be used by Him and to please Him with my life. But, er, uh, I know I sometimes fall short.
The funny thing is, I’m much more happier with my life now than I was when I was a faithful church goer. Honestly, I have more peace. I have more joy. I accept myself a lot more. Back then I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that I lived in a constant state of condemnation. That wasn’t cool- at all.
Now I feel that instead of my relationship with God being something that I strive for, it’s something that is mine, regardless of the circumstances. God is my God even when I don’t do everything the way the church says I should do it. God is my God even when I don’t have a pastor to instruct me and challenge me. My God is my friend. And friends don’t leave you hanging no matter what happens. I didn’t feel like that before. I felt like God was only with me because I was doing things like the church wanted me to. I like this new relationship.
A couple of Sundays ago I took my boys to church.Well, it was a Catholic church so I guess it’s called Mass. My neighbor’s cousin invited me after I told them I was looking for a church home.
As soon as we pulled into the church parking lot I knew I was in for it. My boys hadn’t been to church in a while and if you have any small children around you’ll understand that they ask questions about everything.
We walk into the church and immediately my 5 year old Sugarbear says, “MAMA! I want to sit in the front. I want to see!”
“Ok, Boo Boo,” I whisper. “Lower your voice and we’ll sit near the front.”
We’re walking down the middle aisle and my sons are walking on oppositie sides of me. We sit in the 4th row, close enough, but not too close. The church is huge. I look around. It’s not packed. In fact, if everyone tried, they could probably all fit into the first 4 rows. But they were all spread out, comfortably owning their own pews.
My Sugarbear’s eyes grow wide as he looks around. “Mama, what’s that?” he asks and points to a huge statue of Jesus on the cross. “Is that God?”
I cringe. “No baby, that’s not God. It’s Jesus, God’s son. Well, it’s what some people think Jesus looks like. No one knows for sure. He’s a part of God though.”
“Why is he standing there like that? Is he sleeping?”
“No, he’s not sleeping baby.”
“Is he dead?” he asks and studies my face as if he’s searching for the truth.
Yikes! I had done a good job laying the foundation for a relationship with God, or so I thought. I had yet to tell them the story about why Jesus was on the cross.
“Umm,” I muttered. Clearing my throat. “Baby, Jesus died on the cross.”
“WHY?!! Somebody killed him!?” he asks loudly, his voice echoing throughout the church.
“Baby, I’ll make sure to tell you the story later, ok?”
“What’s that in His foot Mama?”
“Baby, I’ll tell you all about it later. They’re about to start.”
The congregation stands and the man of God, the Father (?) walks down the aisle with three people in front of him. All of them are wearing white robes. The boy in front is carrying a cross.
“MAMA! Are those angels?” My 5 year old asks.
“No baby. They are helpers. They are servants.”
“Are they serving God?”
“No, they’re helping the man of God, right there.” I say and motion toward the older man in the long robe.
“Is that man– GOD?!!”
“No baby, he’s not God. He’s the preacher.”
“No, not the creature,” I laugh, then I catch myself. “The preacher. Now hush your mouth.”
My 3 year old is silent, for now. Everyone sings a little song from the song book. My 5 year old wants to read along but he’s too slow. My 3 year old pretends to read along with me and he’s swaying back and forth to the music. I sway along with him until I realize no one else is swaying.
I grab his shoulder, forcing his movement to stop. The song ends.
They dismiss the kids and I go with them to the courtyard. There is an 12 foot statue of Jesus out there and my kids can’t believe their eyes. They stand frozen in amazement in front of the statue.
We sit down with the other kids but we can’t hear the lesson because the teachers didn’t have a microphone.
“Can we touch the water?” My 5 year old asks after spotting the waterfall.
“I can’t hear her. I wanna go back in the big church.”
“Wait a minute Sugarbear,” I hiss into his ear.
After some time we are allowed back into the church. Before we sit down the kids stand in a group at the door. There are two little bowls of water there.
“What’s that water for Mama?” Sugarbear asks.
“I don’t know.”
A little boy hears us and chimes in, “It’s water for the cross,” he tells us and dips his finger inside. He then touches his forehead, his chest, his right shoulder then his left.
My sons eyes light up as they eye the water bowl, then look over at me.
Don’t you dare! I tell them with my eyes.
They sing another song and we sit down. They make some announcements and we sing another song again.
Out of nowhere a bell rings.
“Mama?” My 3 year old tugs at my shirt. “Does that bell mean it’s time to eat?”
“No,” I cough to cover my laughter. “It’s not time to eat.”
“Well when is it gonna be time to eat?” he whines.
I pull him close to me and place my face next to his. “You’ll eat when we get home.” I say sternly.
“Mama?” he calls me again.
“You didn’t you brush your teeth this morning?”
Huh? I place my hands on the pew in front of me and lower my head so that no one can see me laughing. You would think I was praying.
He stands beside me and asks again. “Why didn’t you brush your teeth Mama?”
“I did!” I hiss and lower my head again. Any minute now I’m gonna fall out from laughing.
“No you didn’t Mama? I smell your teeth. It’s stinky.”
I shake my head and compose myself as I look at my beautiful little boy.
Oh my gosh, it’s going to be along afternoon.