I know who you are. In fact, I’ve been one of them myself. You’ve missed last Sunday. Before that, you made it to church but only got through the first 12 minutes of the sermon before your little one decided the nursery is a chamber of horrors and wouldn’t calm down for the sweet volunteer nursery workers.
Maybe you know what I’m talking about. You are a parent with a yearning and desire to be with God’s people in church on a Sunday morning. To sit with other adults, and teens, and white-haired men and women who’ve walked this faith journey longer than you. To sing, to hear God’s Word, to be lifted up by a needed sermon. After a thousand wipe-ups and putting away toys and making food, you are hungry for time with God’s people; you NEED it. You hope your little one stays in the nursery long enough for you to hear the sermon this Sunday . . . holding that nursery pager like a ticking time bomb and hoping, praying it doesn’t buzz and light up in your lap beckoning you away back to the nursery. Oh, and don’t forget the guilt you are probably feeling for wanting a little space to worship. I get you!
I also know how grateful you are for your kids. Completely blessed by them. Thankful for them. I know you bask in the wonder of that little miracle who looks at you, knowing you are his or her mother. Nothing can really describe it. But we also know how taxing this period of your life is. Some days you think in a blur. You feel spiritually dry and pulled in a thousand directions. Then you take a dose of the deadly tonic called “comparison” to some other mother you know or whose blog you read. You feel as though you must be doing something wrong or be an insufficient mother because they seem to have it all together. So you gulp a swallow of guilt, mixed with a tablespoon of comparison and self-condemnation, and feel worse. You didn’t know motherhood could have such hard seasons. Now you are just looking for some fresh air to fill the lungs of your faith.
Another Sunday, here you are. Fighting to make it to church. You plan to be ready — you really do, I know! Lay out the clothes, set out breakfast the night before. Some mornings everything just flows, but lots of mornings, the only flowing is tears, milk onto the floor, and flared emotions as the clock indicates your family is likely going to walk in late . . . again.
But moms and dads who bring your kids into church still wearing their PJs because it’s just one of those mornings, I want to recognize and encourage you. I’m just saying for the record that I’m so glad you came this morning — just as you are, just as your kids are. The family of God is just that: a family. We take you as you are to minister to your soul. I know how easy it would have been to just stay home today, but I’m so encouraged by you, that you fought to be here despite your lack of togetherness. The fact is none of us has it together. So come, come with toddlers in jammies if you have to. Come with them dressed like Spiderman because that’s what he was wearing over his khakis when it was time to get in the car. You are not judged here.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” and, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.”
I believe Jesus would pull your little PJ-wearing child up on his lap and love on them. Then I believe he would pull you close and tell you how loved you are. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
He would tell you how He is there for you.“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
He would tell you how He has not ever left.“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10
He would tell you how He is holding your hand and breathing strength into you. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
You are His child, and He is taking care of you as you take care of others. Breathe Him in, and come, be together with God’s people, no matter how you walk in the door.
Valerie Ackermann has a desire to see parents equipped to teach their children about God at home because there is simply not enough time in Sunday school alone. Seeing the need for a resource that was both theologically deep, yet written in language that speaks to a child and explains the Bible and God in a step-by-step process, she wrote The God Puzzle. Ackermann is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Parkway Community Church where she is involved with overseeing volunteers, planning and developing programs, and facilitating the classes for Sunday school. She also teaches her own class every Sunday and loves staying in the classroom and on the front line with the kids.