There are some people, out in the “real world” who know both me and my children. I realize this, in itself is not really news, but there is also the possibility that some of these people (or people who know these people) may one day stumble upon this blog and read what I have to say.
Having been fired from a job because I failed to notice all the people CC’d on an email when I replied to it in an unprofessional manner–let me just say, I wasn’t rude or inappropriate, just unprofessional–I have learned that I shouldn’t EVER reply to an email that I am not willing to have read, by my pastor, out loud at church on Sunday morning. Needless to say, this had definitely put a filter on a lot of emails that I want to write. Now I just need to pretend that my pastor is listening in on all my phone calls when I have to talk to stupid people. I do tend to get a little short with them. I try to keep telling myself, “you can’t fix stupid.” It also helps to remember that the stupid person on the other end of the phone likely is thinking the same thing about me. He’s wrong of course, but he is thinking it.
But I digress. The whole point of my last paragraph was to say, that for the most part, I need to realize that my pastor, and everyone from my church, and everyone who might ever DECIDE to attend my church, may one day read my blog. So politeness is the better part of valor. Still there is a story here, and a lesson to be learned. And if I can learn from the lesson, perhaps someone else may need the same learning as well.
My church, like many other churches out there, has been going through some difficult growing pains. There have been times when the pews were packed, when God was in the house, and we were on fire. There were some other times, when the pews were empty, we weren’t on fire and God wasn’t in the house. Actually, he was, we were just too wrapped up in the empty pews to realize it.
We were struggling with old members, new pastors, old ideas and new potential and let’s face it, change is difficult for the best of us. There were Sundays where our praise band had more members in it than there were people in the pews There were Sundays where our praise band was nothing more than a guitar, a keyboard and me as the only singer. I told one of the members who was leaving the church that it was my church, and I was staying, even if it meant I was the last one there. “I’ll turn off the lights,” I said.
After several years of shrinking pains, our church is finally back on track. There are many things responsible for this, but none more so than the Holy Spirit. Somewhere along the way, the church members that remained finally put their eyes on God and He rewarded our faithfulness. We now have two pastors who fit with the remaining congregants. There is a sense of excitement and acknowledgement that something is beginning to move through our church.
So, after surviving our exodus in the desert, what now brings me to my frustration? My children–Thing 1 and Thing 2. For now, Thing 3 has been excused from the situation, but only because she’s 1 and not yet responsible for her actions. Thing 1 and Thing 2, however, are a different matter all together. At 9 and 11, they have the ability to be held accountable for their actions.
With staff changes, a decision was made that the children who remained in the church needed more structure. Many of these children, mine included, had been raised in the church from a fairly young age and were very comfortable roaming the facilities. After many conversations with staff, rules were implemented that gently corralled the children. This has not gone over well with the children. It is not easy to remove freedom from anyone. To suddenly say that they are no longer allowed to walk alone in the church, that they have restrictions that didn’t previously exist, was met with both resistance and apathy. They just didn’t care. And children who behave as though they don’t care are met with adults who were less than pleased. For the record, these children were not being rude or disrespectful, they weren’t vandalizing, stealing or doing anything cruel. They were simply children who’d grown up with each other and treated their friends as siblings. They loved each other most of the time, and hated each other the rest of the time. Alliances were formed and reformed with the seriousness that can only be found with elementary-age kids.
As the children become more frustrated and defiant, and, let’s face it, just forgetful, the church adults become equally frustrated. A church is founded on volunteers, and volunteers have only so much patience and sense of humor. Once the children and volunteers have had enough, several of the parents, specifically me, have been on the receiving end of everyone’s frustration. Which leaves me totally frustrated. This has been going on since December–probably even longer but I just didn’t realize it. It seems as though every week, I get another report about about rule infractions and slights to staff and volunteers. And I am tired. Very, very tired.
Now some of you might say, just leave–if it’s that much of a hassle, just find a new church. But that would be like telling me to find a new husband just because he’s a hassle (see the whole, opening the bathroom door on me). This church, for now, is where I belong. Then a friend of mine who attends the church said something to me that went something like this (I swear, she really did say this):
N: “R, don’t take this the wrong way, but I was in the bathroom yesterday, and I thought of you.”
Me: “Well, N, I don’t quite know of any other way to take that comment.” I really do love N and she “gets” my humor.
N: “You know how God has been speaking to me lately?”
Me: “Yes.” God really has been speaking to N a lot.
N: “Well, when I was in the bathroom, God spoke to me about you.”
Me: “Again, not quite sure how I should react to this.”
N: “It’s Satan.”
I opted to remain silent and let her continue.
N: “Satan is doing this. Think about it. You are integral to this church and you survived all the hard time. Now, big things are about to happen and all this stuff is hitting you. It’s Satan. He’s knows how to get to you. Through your kids. You are a momma bear and you will do anything to protect them. Satan is using this to get you to leave.”
It really got me thinking. I started wondering if there really was something too it. There have been been so many rumors running around about the children and rumors are dark and vicious things. They pit people against each other, cause hurt feelings, and can tear a relationship apart. Even as I’ve been writing this, I’ve received an email confirming that third parties are talking about the children in the church.
So I think that N is right. I think that Satan is at work here. I think that every time I’ve cried, every time I’ve yelled to my husband that I’m not going back, every time I’ve not attended a service or event because I don’t want to deal with the hassle, Satan has been happy.
I have to have faith that God is in control–of me, my children, and my church. God gave me children who were exactly right for me. Children who weren’t sheep (indeed, I was told that by their daycare director). They are smart, opinionated, challenging, funny, confident and FRUSTRATING. But they are mine.
And my children, and I, will see you at church on Sunday.