Most Sundays, at some point, I wonder why we even bothered to go to church. I'm fairly certain I haven't really heard a sermon in the last year. Most of my time during worship is spent trying to keep Aniston (somewhat) quiet by feeding her fruit snacks, letting her play with my jewelry, or whatever else I can pull out of my bag of mommy tricks. I spend a fair amount of time blocking the aisle so she can't escape and run out the door. (She's been known to. And she's pretty quick.) I also have to hunt for the occasional imaginary dog and, possibly, hide from imaginary bears. I spend a good bit of worship time with my foot on the edge of a dress tail to keep a certain princess from crawling under the pews. And that's on a good day. On the bad days, either B or I haul the squealing, crying princess from the sanctuary.
Most Sundays I leave church feeling stressed, haggard, and a little sweaty from the wresting match I've endured for the last hour. It is not relaxing or refreshing. It's a test of my patience and virtue--one that I admittedly fail often.
Last Sunday, we had communion. I realize that every denomination and church is different when it comes to communion, but, at ours, everyone is welcome--even the little ones. So, when it was time, we went to the front to receive it, and Aniston went, too. A couple had been sitting in front of us for the entire service. They joined our church awhile back, but haven't been able to attend because of serious health issues. There's no way Aniston remembered them, but, as we walked down the aisle, she left me and went to them, getting as close to the lady as she possibly could. The look on the lady's face was just....priceless. Aniston took the wafer from the pastor all on her own, dipped it in the grape juice with a little help, and then knelt at the altar--still beside the lady--and bowed her head.
I was just in awe of the whole thing. As I knelt down beside her to pray, I couldn't do anything but give thanks. I'm so thankful for this miracle, for this little one who teaches me so much on a daily basis. Being her mommy is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, and is one of my biggest blessings, but it's also the hardest thing I've ever done.
We're in a difficult stage right now. Aniston throws tantrums, is stubborn, and wants to do things her way and in her time. Even on Sunday, after that precious communion time, she pitched a huge fit before we left church. I was so frustrated. All I could think was, But she was doing so well! What happened?
Later on, as I was thinking about it, I realized that may have been my own personal message. How often has God said that very same thing about me? How often has He been frustrated with me, my choices, and my reactions to being told, "No,"? It's a humbling thought. Even more humbling is the amount of grace and mercy I continue to receive, even when I don't deserve it.
Through parenting, I'm learning more about love, grace, and mercy than I ever knew before, and I'm thankful.
So next Sunday, when I miss most of the sermon (again) and when Aniston is talking loudly (again), instead of becoming frustrated, I'm going to take a moment to appreciate the wonder of it all.
She's learning, and I am, too.