Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I don't wanna
"I don't want to go to church!" was last week's soundtrack to our Sabbath Day preparations.
McKye's whine--he's spent the entire four years of his life perfecting-- punctuated the hair-combing and teeth-brushing, drowning out the hymns I'd put on to play in the background. to get our family in a spiritual mood. "Scatter sunshine" ended up more ironic than inspiring.
I look at his little furrowed brow and his pouty lips and try to pull out of my tired- mommy- brain all the best ways to handle "don't want to"s:
Somethings I can just force, becoming the drill sergeant barking demands, or with a "too bad, I'm the mom" pick up and lug approach. Other times I can just let go and just give in the happy barefoot hippy mamma, chanting freedom and creativity mantras. And then there's always the endless negotiation tactics, which I'm pretty sure my kids could give lessons to hardened terrorist on getting their way. Yup there are many different approaches to "I don't wanna"s and my kids see them all regularly depending on my day and my resulting mood. But maybe it was those darn hymns playing in the background but this morning, I remember this one matters.
I don't care if my kids become doctors, I don't care what sports they choose (though I joke that they're only aloud to play sports where shoes are the only equipment), don't care if they play an instrument (though dad might push that one). Most days I don't care if McKye wants to wear his beloved orange golf shirt AGAIN, or that Levi can't touch a bowl without spilling it, or that Aaron is naked on the trampoline in the dead of winter. I've gotten pretty good at telling myself not to care. Gotta save the energy for the things that I DO care about.
Like my kids going to church. Because I definitely care if my kids grow up loving the Lord.
McKye tapped into that early on. Before he could even unprompted tell me he loved me, he would, if he felt particular happy with me at the time and wanted to reinforce my good mommy behaviour, would look at me and with a big smile say, "Mommy? I WUV JESUS!" And if he was upset with me? "Mommy! I no want Jesus." Somehow he knew that was the core of his mamma, her soft spot, the button to push to leave a mark. And he's was dead on. For my kids to believe and live the gospel of Christ is my greatest desire and truly matters more to me than anything, just as the thought that they might reject the gospel that infuses everything I am and hope to be, is easily my greatest fear.
So last Sunday morning I tuned out the "I don't wannas" and the inner fears they taunted inside me, and somehow manage to get him into some church clothes and carry him to his carseat where we hold our "traditional family prayer in the van" while we drive the block to church.
On that same street, on our returning drive, the Spirit whispered "Look!"
I turned around and saw that same son, that only hours before had fought me so hard, smiling from adorably large ear to adorably large ear.
His little fingers wrapped happily around his cardboard cut out Choose the Right shield.
The truth is, McKye loves church.
He loves sitting on the bench and pointing out every week "Sister Nalder!" his heaven-sent primary teacher. He loves, whispering in my ear "My friend!" because he can't keep the twin boys straight that come and played with him on the tramp, but he recognizes them as they pass the sacrament. He loves when they sing the children's songs we sing as home, mystified that all the other kids know Jesus wants me for a sunbeam too!
He gave the scripture this week. He lisped his way through the scriptural language:
"da Spirit itself beareth witness wif our spirits that we are the children of God!"
practically shouting the last phrase into the microphone.
His unique and youthful Spirit along with The Holy Spirit.
Coming together witnessing eternal truth.
Learning. Feeling. Coming to know. I am a Child of God! Me!
I love this year's theme. I am a Child of God. Simple. Powerful.
What more important truth could we teach to these children than that they indeed have a Father in Heaven who knows and loves them more than anything.
The foundation of everything else.
As I looked at him smiling, telling his dad about fishing during singing time, I thought, McKye doesn't just love church, He already loves the Lord. In the pure, "of course I do" way a child loves a parent... just because. I'm yours. Your mine. End of story.
I thought about how reluctant we are sometimes are to do the things we know we should-- read our scriptures, engage in meaningful prayer, attend the temple, or really take the time to love, and serve others.
Do we whine thinking the "rockbands" of our lives might be more fun than "going to church"?
Do we get fooled into thinking the the effort of "getting our church clothes on" is just too much hassel and might not be worth it?
But it always is.
When we are on the Lord's errand, doing his work, even when it is hard and they're are disappointments along the way, eventually our soul will smile from ear to ear.
Sometimes preparing another sharing time feels like one more thing, but then I get infront of those kids (who maybe told their mom they didn't want to go to church today) and I get to feel the Spirit as I testify that they have a Heavenly Father who knows each of their names and loves them all so tremendously! I get to follow the Spirit and watch little miracles take place in our little primary. I get to look into little faces and see them feeling the Spirit and know that dispite crumpled ties and mismatched socks they are right where they need to be.
And so am I.
Even though McKye is obsessed with using the urinals and so we always seem to end up in the hall during the sacrament, I get to see his little fingers grab the bread and his little lips slurp the water and know that one day it will be more than a mid-meeting snack.
That one day it will be a profound symbol of the covenants he's made with his personal Saviour. That one day because we rangled them to church--when it certainly could have been easier just to stay home-- they will bring their own little infants and pace the halls through what is usual nap time and whisper into their ears "Jee-sus" as they point at paintings. They will wonder some days why they are there, and how they can possibly be getting anything out of what some days feels like a three hours gong show! But they'll have been through enough life to know church is more than cardboard cutouts and colouring scripture stories, it is a place of living water for souls that get oh so dry.
Right now I just want my kids to like church because I know one day they will NEED it. When loss, or heartbreak, or grief, or stress, or any number of inevitable anguishes fill their grown up hearts, they will know the source of solace, they will know where to turn for peace. They will know that God has and is the answer. Every time.
They will know, as I know, that Jesus Christ is real. That He is our Redeemer and provider of our Hope. He is our perfect Example of perfect Love. They will feel as I feel, the immense grattitude for our Savior's sacrifice and want to serve Him in any way they can and want desperatley for other's they love to to feel what they feel.
And... they will want their kids to go to church.
Even if and maybe even especially when at first they say they don't wanna.