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Every Sunday morning we rush out the door bribing, coaxing, and threatening our kids to just “Get into the van!” Luckily, we live remotely rural so we don’t have neighbors to witness our often un-Christlike eye rolls and harsh sighs as we buckle each other up.

We’ve always lived within a five-minute drive to a chapel, and yet we are usually there not two minutes before the service starts. Once sitting in our seats, we’re on high alert for noise control and sibling altercations for the next hour of what is supposed to be a peaceful, sacred, spirit-filled service. Which for me, is often anything but. I’m deeply introverted and church is very social–it’s a rarity for me to not feel at least a portion of exhaustion once church is finished.

Attending church is not something I do out of convenience or ease.

It’s actually never been either of those things. The real reason I attend is that I feel so strongly that that is where I need to be on Sunday. I’ve always made a habit of going regardless of how the week has been. Regardless of how worthy or unworthy I felt sitting in a holy chapel amongst those who may be, perhaps probably, judging me.

I go not because I want to, but because I feel He wants me to be there. Through years of cultivating a relationship with God through prayer from an early age, I feel this is truly where He wants me to be.

RELATED: To the Distracted Mom at Church: it’s Worth it

Right now it may just be the phase I’m in with little children, a decade worth of sleepless nights and church hallway meltdowns, that is making it so hard to attend. But I feel so strongly that Heavenly Father and my Savior, who accomplished the hardest of difficulties, want my family and me there on Sunday. The peace I actually do gain from attending is in the knowledge that I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there.

My kids usually do love church, but sometimes they don’t. And that’s okay.

Because I don’t either at timesa lot of times. They need to know feelings are valid, and faith is a verb. A labor. When religious culture seems to mostly portray the peace, joy, and happy faces of church attendance, I often feel marginalized. But through knowing and accepting I’m not alone in feeling the sacrificial heaviness of church attendance, I feel understood and seen.

We are not all smiley faces with clean shirts and skirts in church pews. We are also tired eyes in wrinkled dresses with forgotten ties and shoes on the wrong feet. We don’t all have kind happy hearts in our chests as we sing those hymns; some are overflowing with worry, grief, and bitter pains only the Savior knows. 

For me, this life isn’t about only finding the things that bring me those happy fun-filled feelings.

It’s about putting my faith ahead of myself.

Though I don’t always understand or particularly like the ways of things that happen within the church or congregation I attend, I recognize we are all imperfect people trying to set a Sunday service the best we know how.

RELATED: Sometimes Church is Hard

Just the act of showing up gives credit to our faith bank. Let there be crumbs from the week before because someone forgot to vacuum. Let the person in the front who often derails the lesson, speak their voice. Let the pulpit share lengthy, boring sermons. And let the family of little children walk in late. We’re all imperfect, and if we can’t learn to find grace for each other every Sunday, how are we going to find Christ’s grace for us?

I need church. I don’t often want it, but I need it. I’m currently in the refiner’s fire with the limited peace it offers me, but we’re here with our kids in tow and I am learning to endure. And perhaps that’s the life-saving gift I need most right now.

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Julie Jensen

Julie is a wife and mother of four little ones. She is a ranch-raised introvert and craver of the simple life. Faith is her anchor. Writing is her passion. juliecjensen.wordpress.com is her website. Spiritual Physical Financial Goals: My Journey of 30-Day Intentions and Journaling Is for You are her books. You can also check her out on Facebook here: Julie C. Jensen Author/Writer .

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