You know that moment of clarity that sometimes comes when you least expect it because you are being immersed in a state of confusion? I call that the ah-ha! moment. Well, I experienced a bit of an ah-ha! moment this past weekend.
The Bacon Slayer and I were serving at church on Sunday morning. A couple of times a month, we help get all the kiddos safely tucked into our Children’s Ministry classes before heading into the “big” service. On those days, we end up missing a fair chunk of the beginning of the service, but still make it in time for the main message.
Now, we’ve been running at seemingly
a million miles per hour top speed lately, what with multiple birthdays, a heavy dose of soccer, enrichment classes, and oh yeah! The beginning of our homeschool year. Things can get pretty crazy around here in a hurry, if we’re not careful. So after an especially hectic couple of weeks, I was really in need of that “refueling of the spiritual tank” for the coming week that I get from hearing the message at church.
So we did our volunteer thing and made it to the service in time for the message. I could tell in the first few minutes that it was going to be just what I needed. Our pastor is on a mission, and we have large delegation from church on another mission in Haiti to finish some building projects that we’d begun on previous missions. Good stuff all around. A few minutes into the message, I noticed a code flashing on a small digital sign on the side wall. The code meant that the Children’s Ministry was in need of extra volunteers due to the high number of kids at the service that day. The thought is that when a CM volunteer sees the code, they will come to help, regardless of whether they are scheduled to do so.
I chose to ignore the code. I figured that by the time I got there, someone else would have already filled the need. The code flashed again a few minutes later. Again, I ignored it. I figured that someone else was helping out, and they just didn’t clear the code from the system yet. However, by the time the code flashed a third time, I felt that I needed to go offer my services.
I left to help, but I wasn’t thrilled about it. In all honesty, I was acting like a down-right martyr about it all…in my head.
I can’t believe someone else didn’t offer to help! I’ve already served this morning! Geez! All I wanted was to get my flippin’ spiritual tank filled up so that I can tackle another week!
It’s not always pretty alone with my own thoughts.
I was really in need…
of what I get...
…the message was going to be just what I needed.
I took a calming breath, shook-off my bad attitude, and tried to bring some cheer to my step as I headed down the hallway. When I found the Coordinator, she was a little embarrassed because as I’d suspected, several others had already volunteered to help, and they did indeed forget to clear the “help code” out of the system. I kept the smile plastered on my face, all the while planning to sprint back down the hall to reclaim my seat.
Then she asked if I minded peeking into the busiest room, just in case they could use an extra helper. No problem. Once there, a quick head count proved that there were more than enough adults in the room. She indicated that I could stay if I wanted, but that it really wasn’t necessary; after all, the room was not only fully staffed, but there was a Bonus Adult because a Mom was in there with her son. Seems he didn’t want to be in the room without her with him. It wasn’t until the Coordinator pointed to the Mom and her toddler across the room that I really noticed the Mom’s face.
I knew that face.
She had a look on her face that I have worn on numerous occasions.
I knew that I had to stay.
The Mom was slowly rocking in a glider, with her sweet little boy sucking his thumb on her lap. He was sobbing. His poor little nose was red, and his face streaked with tears. Mom had tears brimming in her eyes, too. She was seemingly willing them to stay put by staring at the ceiling.
Man! Have I ever been there!
So I sat in an empty glider next to Mom and her boy. I asked how she was doing, what her boy’s name was, etc. She told me that she had two other children, all of which were pretty close in age. She was overly apologetic about her son not wanting her to leave the room. She said she felt like an idiot because all the other parents seemed to be able to drop off their kids without issue, but her’s were another story. She wondered if it was a “boy” thing, because her daughters were extremely social and loved “their church.”
I laughed and told her that I knew boys. Then I told her a personal story about when I had my first two little ones. Son #1 was about 4 years old, and Son #2 was close to two. I was coming out of a seemingly 4-year long mental fog and was ready to get out and do something just for me. I joined a new MOPS group, which offered weekly speakers, craft time, and most important of all to me–fellowship with mothers of preschool aged children. Childcare was provided so that the moms could really engage on an adult level, without distraction. I loved everything about what this group could mean to me. I practically skipped into the first meeting. Never mind the fact that neither of my boys had been cared for by anyone other than family up until then–they’d be fine! What could possibly go wrong?
The Sons did not agree with my assessment. The first week, Son #1 was crying so hard after I dropped him off that he threw up all over himself and two of the caregivers. I’m pretty sure that I was crying nearly as hard outside the door waiting for him to settle into the room–and that was only the first 5 minutes we were there! I tried for half a semester to “leave” my boys with the MOPS provided caregivers. They wanted no part of it. I guess it just wasn’t the right season for us.
At this point in my story, the Mom shrieked and grabbed my arm. She was so excited by my puke story because her boy had cried so hard at church the week before that he was dry heaving by the time she got back to see him.
Nothing brings two moms together like talking about their kids bodily functions.
She went on to explain that her son has never done well with being dropped of anywhere. He did eventually grow attached to a couple that volunteered in his ministry room every other week for the past year. She said that they began to attend church only on the weeks that the couple was there, but that they we volunteering in a different room now, and her son hasn’t wanted to be left in his ministry room ever since. She said that she really missed being able to go into the “big” church and to enjoy the service with her husband.
Now don’t take this the wrong way–it’s not as if the whole point of church is to dump the kids in Sunday School so that you can have some time away from them. But believe me, when you’re in a Season of Life where is seems like absolutely everything you do/see/hear/breathe is for your children, and alone time with your spouse is practically non-existent…well, that hour spent side by side, holding hands in a church service can be like a life line to your sanity.
Eventually, I was able to befriend her son and coax him onto my lap. We played silly games with cars and plastic farm animals. Peacocks drove tractors. Sheep drove semi-tucks. All was well. Although he still didn’t want his mama to be too far away, he was content to hang with me while she fluttered around the room restocking supplies and tidying up the place. For her, that was just the “break” that she needed, if only for an hour. At the end of the service, I gave the Mom a hug and promised her that it will get easier. She left a little more relaxed about the whole situation.
And all those ridiculously selfish, snarky thoughts I was having up until then? All those I statements? They were meaningless because I knew that none of what happened that morning was about me. I was meant to be there for that Mom.