This past Sunday morning started just like every other Sunday morning starts. Little feet crept in to stand beside my bed while little eyes danced in the just risen sunlight. Little voices whispered for mama and little hands reached for mine. I filled little bowls with breakfast and turned on some cartoons, hoping for just a few more minutes of quiet. The sun made its ascension into the sky as we got ready to make ours into the world.
But this past Sunday, we did something new. We went to church.
I’m ashamed to admit that it took this long. I grew up in the church. For years, at least every Sunday morning we were there. The pastor knew us by name, I went to school with his sons. We spoke to other members when we saw them in grocery stores or out to eat. At some point though, we stopped. I wasn’t entirely sure why, it didn’t make much sense to me then, but I didn’t question it.
Then I got married and had babies. My husband didn’t care for church, so we didn’t go. I should have fought it. I should have stood up for what I wanted, what I knew my family needed.
We should have gone to church.
Then we divorced, and I was alone. How could I go sit in those pews with two babies, as rambunctious as the day is long? What would people say? What would they think? I was nervous. I thought it would be enough to buy books with pictures of Jesus and say my prayers late at night after the sun had sunk behind the horizon and those littles were tucked snuggly in their beds. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I knew it wasn’t enough. I knew we should have been going to church.
About a year ago, we met a man who loves us and God. His mama and daddy raised him up in church, too, but they didn’t quit. They sit in those pews every Sunday, morning and night. They pray and they worship and they send their praises way up high. They clap their hands along to gospel songs and they thank Jesus for this life they have. They go to church.
They didn’t push me. They didn’t poke or pry at why we didn’t go too. They let us know we were welcome and they left it at that.
So, this past Sunday we went to church. I took my 4-year-old in one hand and my 2-year-old in the other. We got to the doors of the small sanctuary and were greeted with smiles and people who seemed genuinely happy to have us there. We listened to a message that hit me so hard I may have been knocked off my feet had I been standing. I sat and thought to myself, this is why we needed to come to church.
The pastor stopped and talked to us, and we laughed and joked. My littles clapped off time to the music and said amen when they heard it from everyone else. They talked a little too much, but we weren’t met with the judgment I was so afraid of. Instead, when we left, there were warm smiles and well wishes asking us to come back.
It took a little longer than I’d have liked. It took a lot more thinking than it should have. I harbored a lot of fear, fear that I’m not a good enough person to sit in the house of the Lord. Fear that my littles would be too much for such a sacred place. But we went to church, and I was reminded that none of that matters. We showed up, and we’re trying to be better.
So we went to church, and next Sunday we’re going back—I like to think that, to God, that’s the important part.