When I finished reading Kate’s blog post (Tips for Surviving Church with Small Children) last Friday, I started crying.
My reaction caught me off guard. Surely this was not the correct response to such a humorous “how-to”…right?
Don’t get me wrong, I was chuckling throughout it, too—I could absolutely relate to chasing/hushing/bribing a child in church—but at the end, when Kate wrote: “Remember God loves children, and He wants them there [at church]”…I lost it.
I felt so guilty. So ashamed.
Because—for the most part—I haven’t been bringing my own children to church.
We’ve only gone a handful of times over the past several years—more so since my parents moved to the same town and became members at the Lutheran church where my daughters currently attend preschool—but still not at all regularly.
Before we had kids, Drew and I attempted to find a “church home” nearby, but the one “progressive” church we were most comfortable with split apart, and we never really settled anywhere else after that.
Now, with kids, it’s much more complicated (obviously). Usually at least one of us has to leave with a child during the service, and there is no nursery or children’s church or crying room at the church we attend, so that means one of us is usually out of the sanctuary for the majority of the service. We end up so distracted by keeping the girls somewhat under control that we get hardly anything out of being there ourselves.
To be completely honest, it feels mostly like an unpleasant chore.
So, why not just stay home and snuggle in our jammies? I’ll rationalize.
Still, even with the inconvenience of keeping my young children relatively quiet and occupied in church, I know there’s more that’s keeping me from getting our butts into those pews every Sunday…
You see, I feel like I have a personal relationship with God, even if it’s still in its infancy after many years of (mostly) ignoring that part of my life completely (more on that in future posts).
I pray daily, however ineloquently, and in the simplest form. Some of my most common prayers include:
Lord, give me strength!
Help me, Lord!
Please be with them, Lord!
Thank you, Lord!
Also, over the past nine months, I have attempted to have a daily “quiet time” (reading my devotional and Bible).
But despite starting to build up my personal relationship with God (Jesus) again, I have been delinquent in trying to find where I “fit in” within the wide realm that is Christianity.
To start putting my faith into practice.
To put down roots somewhere.
This passage from the preface of Mere Christianity really resonated with me when I read it a couple weeks ago:
“[Mere Christianity] is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in…It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.”
I’ve been living in the hallway, as Lewis analogized. Certainly not a very satisfying place to be camping out.
No fires for warmth…no chairs for comfort….no meals for nourishment.
Instead, I’m trying to find a corner to tuck myself into where the draft doesn’t chill me to the bone…where I can prop myself up against the unforgiving, angular walls…where I can scavenge the scraps left outside the rooms after those inside have already eaten their fill.
I’m not sure if God has kept me waiting here for a reason that He has yet to make clear, or if it is self-imposed fear that is keeping me from taking the next step.
In either case, all I can hope is that as I continue to devote time to re-introducing myself to [mere] Christianity, He eventually will lead me to the door at which I’m supposed to knock.
What about you? Where do you currently stand in Lewis’ spiritual analogy? Are you comfortably warm, snuggled up in a room of your own choosing, well-fed and content? Are you stuck in the hallway, like me, under-nourished and unsure of where you fit in? Or are you outside the house completely, wondering if you ever want to step foot inside at all?