For oh, so many years, I have felt like an octopus in church–or at least like I needed to be a creature with 8 arms to keep my little people in some modicum of decent behavior as our family attempted to worship God. For 6+ years, I was doing most of my pew gymnastics solo as Mark was preaching every week. Many Sundays, I felt like it was not worth it.
Something happened in church yesterday that confirmed my efforts were not in vain. Immediately after the worship service, our oldest son, now 13, said, “Mom, did you or Dad call Pastor and tell him about everything I have done wrong this week?”
I laughed and said, “No, why?”
“Well, this is the third week in a row that it seems like he was talking about stuff that I did,” he replied.
“Maybe God called Pastor about you, ” I said.
I laughed because only a kid thinks the world revolves around him so much that the pastor of his church would direct his sermon to him. But the emotion that overcame me the most was joy because this means for at least the last 3 weeks, my 13-year-old has been paying attention to the sermon. I also must add that after years of unwelcomed prodding to participate fully in worship by singing vigorously and to become fully engaged while reading the liturgy, he, along with his younger brother, can both be heard clearly by their fellow parishioners.
With this experience fresh in my mind, today several friends on facebook linked this article by Pastor Doug Wilson that encouraged me further in my parental efforts in the pew. I am nearing the end of my physical struggles to parent in the pew, but I still have a pretty rascally 6-year-old daughter who needs some gentle prodding regarding behavior during worship. So this encouragement is still needed to get me through to the end. But I also need it because while the physical struggles are ending, the emotional and spiritual struggles are really beginning to heat up.
I now see why people want to keep their kids little forever. As I see mine starting on the visible path to adulthood, I get more and more driven to pray for them. It would be so much easier if I could just keep wrestling with them to keep them still and quiet during church.