I plopped into the pew out of breath. We made it just in time. My toddler in his dad’s arms, I say a small prayer that I can be present today. I take a deep breath as church begins.
There was a time not so long ago in my adult life when I felt the closest to God I have ever been before.
I would go to church and be able to close my eyes, deeply pray, and feel God’s love envelop me. I could concentrate and dive into the word and His message. I would leave church each week refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on the world. The experience would stick with me throughout the week, pushing me each morning in prayer and Bible study to dig deeper and develop my trust in God harder. When you are in those seasons with God, it is such a special time in life.
But now I am in a different season. And I find myself often frustrated. Sunday morning, I sat in the pew feeling the distance between me and the cross as it stared down at me. Not because I don’t want the relationship or I am not trying, but I can’t seem to give the cross the devotion it deserves.
With a toddler sitting next to me, every five seconds my attention is diverted. Holding him, feeding him, handing him a toy, and “shhhing” his baby sounds. With each word of the Liturgy I miss, I feel myself drifting farther from being involved in what is happening. As I drift away, the weight of life begins to creep up in my mind. The lists begin to be written in my head, the worries begin to set in, and my attention seems to have run out the sacred building.
I sit, nine months pregnant, uncomfortably in the pew, fidgeting as I switch positions and unable to kneel as my belly won’t fit between me and pew to the front of me. I think of how uncomfortable I am, how distracted I am, and I call out to God to say, “I’m sorry. I’m just not there with you today. I really wish I could be.”
My son starts wanting to walk around in the pew and I think to myself, “Why I am even here?”
Is it even worth it when I only spend the time I’m here telling God that I’m sorry for being distracted?
Does He see my husband and me and at least think good effort?
Is the effort even enough? Because it doesn’t feel like enough.
As all these thoughts swirled in my head Sunday morning, God answered me. My sweet son, who no longer could sit still was standing next to me in the pew as I tightly held his arm to keep him from running away. The choir began to sing and he suddenly stopped pulling away. He put his hands in the air and began to dance. Swaying back and forth, hands held up high to heaven. Everyone in the pews around us turned to watch him as he joyfully danced to the music for our Lord. I looked down at him, almost in tears. I felt joy and pride well up inside me as he praised God in his own little way. It was the first time in church that day I was truly present. And in that moment, I felt the closeness to God I had hoped to find when I stepped into His house that morning.
God used my son to show me that right now, finding Him through my children is what He expects of me. It is where He speaks to me during this time of my life.
He understands that right now I’m consumed with this little boy and soon another baby, but that He is there too because He is in them. So the attention, love, and devotion I give to them, is also attention, love, and devotion that I am giving to God.
So I said to God, “OK, I get it!” It matters that I am here. That even when I feel distant you are still near. When I am distracted you are hovering over me waiting for me to return my thoughts to You. When I can’t seem to close my eyes and ask for the things I need, you already know what they are. When I need to praise You and thank You, you know I am grateful. Being in Your presence matters. My son was blessed standing in Your glory praising You. It matters for him. It matters for my marriage that we show up each week as a family, united in our faith even though we can’t devote ourselves to Your word the way we would like to. It all matters.
You see me there, Lord. So I’ll keep going. I miss how we were, but I know we will get back there one day. Until then, I’ll do my best and will remember You are with me. You are with me each day with these little babies. And my devotion to them, it matters to You.
You see me, Lord. And that matters to me.
Originally published on the author’s blog
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