So we just got home from church. It was pretty much pure chaos.
Paul's at the fire station, so it was a solo-parenting show from me during church today. You'd think I'd be good at it by now, but, I'm not. It's a circus, every time. Or maybe more like a jungle where the animals are un-contained.
Now...to be clear. I love church. I love hearing the Word of God preached in clarity and power. I love worshiping along with fellow believers. I love fellowship. I simply love church. And I love my kids more than life. (That's why I take them to church.) But I also struggle at discipline. (Actually, my discipline failures are my next "Confessions of a Mom" Blog...look for it in a few days!) Discipline and training my kids in obedience (specifically my boys) is one of my messes. And as hard as I try to get my act together, I bring this mess with me everywhere I go. Where I go, my struggle comes with me. Even to church. Or perhaps especially to church.
The idea of bringing my "Sunday best" to church sounds lovely, but, alas, it doesn't happen. (I'm not sure I even have a Sunday best!) Today I allowed each kid to bring a book to read during church. But about half-way through the message, when the five-year-old boy was done reading his Ninja turtle book...what do you suppose the book became? Yes. Obviously. A nunchuck. What other purpose could a book possibly serve? There was ninja-kicking and crawling under the chairs while mom was "distracted" (aka "worshiping"). There was fighting over teddy grahams. It was all very normal, actually. It was our everyday chaos, just dressed up, showered, wearing something other than yoga pants, and transferred out of our living room.
It was pretty clear that our jungle act was not impressing those around us...I was starting to feel intimidated by those watching me and embarrassed. (Behavior did improve when spankings were an imminent threat, thankfully). Then, as we were partaking in Communion and singing about Jesus' saving grace, it struck me...I was like...wait a minute...why am I feeling out of place about our jungle act here? Really, this is all sin right here. My failures, my inconsistency in mothering, my children's disobedience and fighting. Sin, every bit of it. And, aren't we supposed to bring our sin to Jesus? Yes. Resoundingly, yes. Jesus commands us to leave our pride at the door when we come into church, but he doesn't ask us to leave all of our sinful messes and insufficiencies at the door. He bids us to bring him our sin. Church is the right place to bring our insufficiencies. When we bring our messes to church, we bring them to the feet of Jesus, in the fellowship of believers, for everyone to see that the Meidinger's need Jesus. Yes. Asap. We have never denied that.
One day at church several years ago, a friend nonchalantly asked Paul the typical "So how's it going?" (probably expecting a typical "Oh we're doing great!" response). But, Paul, being the most honest guy on the planet, responded, "Well pretty sucky actually. Rebecca and I have been fighting all weekend." I caught ear of his response and quickly disappeared to my own friend group. Afterward in the car I was flipped a lid: "Seriously? You really had to say that?" And he was all like, "Rebecca, it's church. Can't I be real at church? Did you want me to be fake?"
Deep sigh. No. Not fake. You're right. Just bring it. Jesus can handle it. And Jesus' people should be able to hand it. Just like Billy Graham's favorite old hymn says, "Just as I am, without one please, but that thy blood was shed for me."
If we bring our "Sunday best" to church, we might appear self-sufficient. Self-reliant. We might appear to have our act together far more than we really do. And, friends, I don't want that. And, what is "Sunday best" anyway? Nice clothes and a facade that says we have it all together?
I don't for one second of my life want to appear like I don't need Jesus. Rather, if people watch my jungle show at church and think, "Wow...she's terrible at discipline and must really need God's help to get through every day..." well, that's more like it. If people see me at church and are compelled to pray that I'll get my discipline act figured out, well honey, I'll take those prayers.
And if that means bringing my "everyday chaos" with me to church rather than my "Sunday best" well then so be it.
Jesus came to save us because we are in fact a mess of a people.
Sin has made us a hot mess. Why pretend to be anything else?