Training for a Marathon

Oh I have thoughts to ramble through… I’ve talked about how our girls sit in church with us before. It started as a necessity. With Covid regulations putting a halt to children’s church, there was no way to send our duo of wild ladies downstairs while we soaked in a sermon. This left us no other course but to train them to sit with us. Now we’ve decided we would like them to stay with us even when there is available childcare. They’re learning so much just through being there and it’s wonderful to see them mature as we keep training them!

But I’ll be honest. Some days, it is not easy. Some days, it is downright miserable.

A couple weeks ago, my youngest really was resisting sitting quietly. We were sitting up towards the front and this kid decided to interject her own comments as the pastor preached. He would ask a rhetorical question, she would answer. He would pause in the Scripture reading over something that on first glance didn’t make much sense, she would all but yell out, “What? That’s weird!” So I took her and she and I sat in the back of the foyer on the floor. I had to keep redirecting her to sit and fold her hands, to be quiet, to not fidget or play with her dress, her hair, her shoes. It was exhausting. I probably got about 50% of the sermon, if that. But God doesn’t leave hard working moms in the dust. What I did hear, I needed.

While it’s great that she was so engaged, her vocal responses show me that I still have a lot of work to do to teach her how to be quiet and respectful. I love that she has questions and I will answer them all! But she can’t distract others by yelling out her questions. Church isn’t a classroom. We’re working on it.

Working on it is so hard though! It’s exhausting to have to redirect and correct and make mental note of what your kids are doing all the time while we’re sitting in the pew. But as parents, I think we have to be very careful that we’re not parenting out of convenience or out of what feels best for us. Motherhood is exhaustingly selfless. Believe me, there are days when I would much rather ignore the structure of our routine and let them run feral. But what is that teaching them? That I only care for them and harp on them when it is easy for me? That it’s okay to give up when things are hard? There are times I would rather send my youngest and all her fidgeting out of the sanctuary and let somebody else deal with her. But how can I show her that I love her and care for the spiritual well-being of her soul if I’m shuffling her out of my sight like that?

All forms of training are difficult. It’s hard to teach them to read. But something I must do, or they won’t have a solid foundation for life as they get older. Literacy is important! And just as literacy is important but must be learned, appropriate behaviour in public must also be learned and requires a lot of training. I want my kids to be confident and able in all circumstances: playing with friends, listening in church, speaking respectfully to adults, shopping at the store. I can’t give up becauspe it’s difficult.

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. I seriously don’t expect a five year old with diva tendencies and a four year old with attention issues to sit perfectly in church. People are constantly telling me, “I don’t know how you do that,” or “Oh my kids could never do that!” or my personal favourite, “It’s easier for you because you have girls.” Well, I’m stubborn, my kids also can’t do it some days, and have you met my daughters? As a nanny of many years prior to motherhood, I have worked with rowdy boys who look like little painted angels as compared to my girls! It’s not about what our kids can do right this second, it’s about what we teach them to do.

And righteousness is also a marathon, not a sprint. Our kids need us to show them what righteousness looks like right now. They need us to demonstrate how to worship. Just like the Israelites needed EXTENSIVE laws about how to worship in Leviticus, our kids need examples. And God put them smack-dab in our homes where we must be the examples. Christians are to be set apart. I think Christian kids should be set apart too. Does the Lord have a hold of their hearts yet? Maybe not. But as we have them sit with us, have them learn the Bible, and teach them at home, we are preparing their hearts. If Hannah could give Samuel to the temple when he was between 2 and 4 years old, surely we can expect our kids to sit by our sides during an hour long sermon once a week in order to teach them how to worship!

So yes… Some days, I don’t want to train. I’m tired, I’m grumpy, the kids are making me crazy, whatever. But this isn’t just my job, it’s my calling. I am called to shepherd them alongside my husband and called to train them. Even when it’s rough, even when it’s tiring. And even when my kid answers rhetorical questions in church. Motherhood doesn’t stop, and neither will I.

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