I don’t know about you, but getting my family ready for church on Sunday mornings can send me over the edge sometimes.
It’s a paradox for sure, the cursing under my breath and snapping at everyone because they can’t move fast enough. Here we are, preparing for holy ground, and all I can think is, “Enough, already. I’m done.”
Once I get to church, however, something strange happens. The tightness is my chest relaxes, and suddenly I can breathe again. The peace washing over me can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit, and without a doubt I know this is where I belong. Worshipping is what I was made to do. At no other point during the week do I feel so deeply moved and connected.
Once I get to church, I’m always glad I made the effort. Always.
I’ve wondered before why church affects me like way. Why is it my comfort zone, whereas other people feel uncomfortable the moment they walk in the building? Why do I feel a little empty when I skip church on Sunday, whereas others don’t think twice?
To me there’s only one earthly explanation: my parents.
Because of my parents, I attended church every Sunday growing up. Even when I squirmed on the pew, clawed at their arms, or whined about the service taking too long, they made me tough it out. Like most kids, I didn’t enjoy church. Besides the fact that I found it boring, it made no sense to me.
But somewhere along the way, religion started to click. I realized I could get something out of a service if I listened. That priest I’d been watching for a million years…I realized he wasn’t speaking gibberish. He had some useful life lessons, actually, and if I paid attention I could learn things to help me through the week.
It was a divine revelation.
As parents, we plant seeds, and sometimes it takes years – decades, perhaps – for our seeds to pay off. The spiritual seeds my parents planted didn’t really take root until college, and looking back I realize how perfect the timing was. As much as I enjoyed college, it also tapped into my deepest insecurities. Having a church to tether me offered calm among the chaos.
As a freshman at the University of Alabama, I finally had freedom to CHOOSE going to church. While my parents only lived fifteen minutes away, they never called or showed up on my doorstep to guilt me into going. It was my decision, but if I did go I knew I’d see them.
It started by accident, me attending church on my accord, and largely because of friends I made. I’d hit it off with someone and soon discover that they, too, were Catholic. They’d ask if I wanted to ride together to Mass, and I’d go because I enjoyed their company and figured that a service would do me good.
The campus priest at the time, Father Ray, was a prolific speaker, and his sermons instantly drew me in. Sometimes I’d go to hear him. Sometimes I’d go to pray for good test results. Sometimes I’d go for answers, or to feel better about life. And while I didn’t visit every Sunday, I went a good bit, oftentimes after a late Saturday night out.
My purpose in sharing this is to encourage parents to get the kids to church even when they resist. Even when they hang on you like dead weight, or force you into the cry room, stick with it. Children can’t love something they don’t know, and the more time they spend in God’s house, the more at home they’ll feel. The more at home they feel, the more likely they are to sustain the habit – and eventually attend church because they want to, not because they have to.
We live in a world of quick thrills and fleeting pleasure. We hunger for substance, yet only one thing – God – can meet that craving. Now is our chance to plant spiritual seeds that can benefit our kids down the road. Now is our chance to teach them church is a place to love and respect, not fear and avoid.
So the next time you’re at your wit’s end on a Sunday morning, and tempted to call it off, remember you’re setting a habit. Remember you’re teaching your kids to keep holy the Sabbath and associate Sundays with God. Of course, there’s no guarantee your child or mine will keep the habit long-term, but there is peace of mind knowing we tried. As parents, that’s all we can ask of ourselves – to try and give our best, and pray for God to take it from there.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on June 28, 2013