I am listening to my family get ready for church. In about five minutes they will pile out the door, climb in the van, and head off to church without me. By Sunday morning this mom is exhausted, I have battled on the front lines all week. Schedule full; two girls in school every day, four kids at home with me, meals, dance, grocery shopping, etc. Saturday we catch up on groceries for the weekend, morning dance classes for the littles, and try to get out of the house as a family – a change of scenery for the caged animals. Sunday the battle to get out the door for the 9 15 service is more than this introvert mom wants to fight. This morning I chose to stay home.
Cuddled up with the cats, surrounded by notebooks, devotionals, and lost in my own thought. The sun is pouring into our bedroom window encouraging the potted tulips on the sill to bloom. This is blissful and where my inner self finds rest with God. The world is shut out, my self worth is not based on appearances or perfection. I am not comparing myself to anyone else, and I have not rushed or forced myself into another schedule. I am free and able to stretch out. My mind is not racing – jumping from one thought to another fighting to stay focused on the sermon. Instead I am slowly forming thoughts, knowing I have all day to prepare mentally for the week ahead.
I am debating on whether or not this is what God had planned when He designed the Sabbath for moms. Should a mom feel pressured to get out of bed, wrangle kids, find clothes, and push everyone out the door. Showing up to another location with a fashionable look, hair curled, make-up, stylish (not winter-friendly) shoes, and a calm approachable presence. That is one tall order for this mom on any given day, let alone Sunday.
I find when our family rushes out the door on fire, by the time I sit my mind is going at such a rapid pace the service is over before my heart has found quiet. It isn’t that I don’t want to join in praise and worship, or that I don’t enjoy listening to a sermon spoken from the word. It is that literally I am unable to be present, instead I am thinking about the fight we had on the way over, the harsh words I used to get the kids to hurry up, our upcoming week, the unfinished work at home, what snack could be ready the instant hungry kids walk into the house. My mind drifts to my budget, guilt over not finding time to serve, caring for my grandparents, a lost relationship with extended family, how to include my in-laws in our life, supporting Joel’s job, upcoming school commitments, dance competition, family vacations, need I go on?
I feel like I have created my own legalism. I am holding myself to a standard I believe shows others I am a “good” Christian. If I go to church every week (no matter what state my heart is) then I have fulfilled my role. But the truth is I am losing myself in the process. I am not happy with my inner self, I am not showing love to others when I am annoyed and pressured, instead my heart is hardening and growing cold.
Today I am full of energy, and excitement for the week ahead. I am giddy about the dinner I have planned – fresh fettuccine with creamy Alfredo sauce, along with the baked ham we found on sale yesterday – yum! The meal idea has had me excited since yesterday morning when I planned it. I also want to bake banana muffins for the girls’ lunches, and organize the house a bit so the week runs smoothly. After the kids go to bed this evening, and Joel heads back to church to edit the service video, I may rent myself the movie I picked out to watch Friday night. That is Sabbath to me, rest, refreshing, and quiet time spent connecting with my inner self, lining her up to be ready to serve in the week ahead.
I am not writing off going to church by any means. I love our church family and the support I feel from the fellow members we worship with. But as I come into my own, and begin to step away from learned pressure (guilt), I am realizing that God calls my heart to a personal relationship with Him. I am going to work at releasing the guilt and going with the flow, creating a system that works for me.