Black Sabbath

If Satan were a bodily organ, he would certainly be a child’s bladder on an already 10-minute late commute to church on a Sunday morning.

Just last week, I finished reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued. Toward the end of the book, she covers the importance of observing and preserving the Sabbath. Brent and I used to be really good at going nutso on Friday and Saturday so that Sunday was a day of physical, mental, and emotional rest. We even went to church on Saturday night, because getting kids ready for church does not put me in a Sabbath state of mind.

As of late, we have somehow managed to move back into our “every moment should be used trying to get things done” mentality. I have found myself weary and not recharged for the week. After finishing Terkheurst’s chapter on the Sabbath, I decided that we needed to implement this day of rest back into our lives.

All last week, I found myself longing for it to be Sunday, to be in the worship service, able to partake in the music and hear a word of encouragement from Dr. Hunter. My soul NEEDED this. Sabbath! Ahhhh!

And just like that, Satan was queued to come do a tap dance all over my patience.

This past Sunday morning, despite my best efforts, we somehow were not ready to leave on time. I even planned a fifteen-minute window for error and not only did we use that up, we cut another five minute slice out of the clock. Once the car was actually moving, I calculated that there was still a chance we’d make it there exactly as Dr. Hunter took the stage.

That is, until my daughter, who NEVER, EVER asks us to stop to use the bathroom starts panicking that we need to stop because she’s “got to go!”

We pull over at McDonald’s, and I sanctimoniously usher her into the restroom. Alas, she has a fear of auto-flushing potties, which this lovely McDonald’s so conveniently has. She wedged herself in a corner and began melting down, tears and all, her hands stretching her cheeks down to her chin saying she can’t use that type of potty. After my reassurance didn’t work, it was back to the car, Satan inhabited bladder and all. She now claimed she could hold it. Grrr.

Brent dropped me off to take baby boy to the nursery, and by the time I got him checked in and found a place to sit in the sanctuary, I had only missed the announcements. Hallelujah! I could breath. I melted into my seat. God come speak to me and fill me up because I feel so dad blamed empty.

Then, I saw that Dr. Hunter was out of town. Another pastor was filling in. Womp, womp. Okay, not what I wanted, but I suppose God can speak through other vessels as well. Okay, Spirit, fall on me like rain.

And then I notice a text flash on my phone down by my feet. I picked it up.

“There’s no children’s church today.”

Two minutes later, in comes Brent with my sweet, beautiful, kind, loving daughter…who can’t sit still for long periods of time.

For her…
The music was too loud
The sermon too long
She didn’t understand why her Bible’s words were different than what the pastor was using

She verbally and bodily expressed this to us over and over again all throughout the service.

Oh, and hey, let’s throw in communion. At the end of the service we were trying to quietly explain to her the significance of the sacrament as well as the intinction method. The easier we tried to make it, the more she started stressing over the logistics of how it was going to happen.

On a side note, the guest pastor’s sermon was actually really good (the 60% of it that I heard). In short, it was about loving others, not just loving the idea of loving others.

And here I was ready to murder my child. But, I looked at her and tried ridiculously hard to see God’s image (in that moment, not even a microscope would have helped). Instead, I saw my image. She was behaving in a way I understood (being so fearful of understanding logistics that I can miss the essence of the experience itself). She was irritating me, which interestingly enough means I irritate me!

I started praying for God to quiet her spirit and calm my soul. I wish I could say that everything dramatically changed, that Jesus himself opened the roof to Northland’s sanctuary and sat down between me and my child, reclined our seats and held our hands, telling us it would be okay as we quietly finished up the service. But, the day dragged on with a ball and chain of frustration linked to it. We had a round trip to Melbourne to drop my daughter off with her grandparents for the week, and by the time we finally got home on Sunday (around 5:15), I felt empty. So much for Sabbath. And now I had to wait another week to try again.

This is what we look like on a peaceful Sunday when there is Children’s Church. See those smiles? They are REAL.

But the house was relatively quiet, so after dinner, I grabbed a small glass of wine and sat on the couch facing a window and just breathed in the stillness.

It was only fifteen minutes, but God gave me a pocket of Sabbath, a time to reflect, and a time to rest in quiet. Suddenly, the day’s irritations became less about my daughter and more about me. What could I do differently next time? How can I be a better parent? How can I extend love, grace, and mercy when I don’t feel like it?

I’m quick to blame those who cause a ruckus in my life. But, if I look closely and reflect, I discover my reaction to a situation says just as much as the situation itself.

I should have known reading a book called Unglued meant I would immediately be served up the opportunity to practice what I learned.

But in the quiet of Sunday night, I was reminded that if I ask for God to give me a space just to breathe, he is faithful. It might only come in a fifteen minute pocket, but he’s the guy who can take a small amount of something and miraculously multiply it into abundance…

…including my patience.

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