So, I decided to package it a little differently this time. She went with grandma and auntie to the track to excersise. She also loves to "exercise", so she was very excited about going. Then, she discovered I wasn't going and wanted to know why - I gulped and told her I was going to church. Surprisingly, she didn't react. Either she didn't fully hear me ('cause I tried to do that mumble thing where you cover your mouth when you speak) or the grace of God overshadowed the situation. It was probably a result of both.
So, I was able to go to church without her. Now, for those of you that don't have small children to deal with during a 2 hour church service, some of this may be lost on you. But believe me when I tell you even the most well mannered child will cause distractions. Ultimately, you are unable to fully engage in the worship experience. This has been my lot for the past 3 years. She absolutely refuses to go to the nursery/children's church ... She had one "bad experience" with another child the third time she went and it has been virtually impossible to get her to even go down the same hallway where it's located without some major drama unfolding.
So, she sits in the sanctuary with me (daddy is a church musician and is rarely able to bring her with him). Now, granted, my child is different than most 3 year olds when it comes to sitting in the sanctuary. She participates in service. She claps, she dances and she tries to emulate mommy. She has been doing that for at least 2 years. She is also very well mannered. Sometimes mommy has duties to carryout and people do not mind watching her when I have to step away. There are always comments about how well behaved she is and that she has an "old soul".
I said all of this to be clear about what I am about to share. It isn't coming from an overly frazzled mother whose child is swinging off of light fixtures, throwing tantrums in public (note I said public ...), and just a downright misbehaving child. No, quite the contrary 97% of the time she is a model little girl in public (once again, note that I said in public ...).
But last week I felt led to leave her with grandma and just go and meet Jesus at the house of prayer ...
So glad I did.
I was able to worship and engage uninhibited. No looking out of the corner of my eye to see what loving adorable daughter was doing. No retrieving of little toys that have tried to make an escape under the pews. No opening of snacks to curve her sudden hunger pain. No explanation of the drama skit unfolding or why or what certain people are speaking about. And even more recently, no trips to the potty right. when. the. sermon. is. about. to. begin.
I felt as if I was stealing away to Jesus ... literally.
Then I realized how backwards that is - "stealing away to Jesus". Now, to be clear this is not an indictment on the old Negro Spiritual. I'm reflecting on what has been the lot of my spiritual life for the past 3 years. I've had to creatively utilize time that hasn't been filled or focused on l.a.d.. The vast majority of my quiet time has been when she is asleep. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but I now realize that I have not been very intentional about spending quality time with Jesus. I have not purposely carved out time when I ensure I can not be interrupted by l.a.d.. And no, when she is asleep really doesn't count. It's akin to being a by-product ... I do not intend on my relationship with Jesus to become or remain a by-product.
I need to set clear defined boundaries in which I spend time with the Master. I cannot be interrupted during that time. Because my l.a.d. is also quite creative, I have also realized that this time will need to be spent away from home or when she is away from home. I need to secure a time, probably (and realistically) at least once a week when it is just me and Jesus without the hint or chance of loving adorable daughter slipping in while mommy is spending time with her Savior.
"Mommy, I just want to ask you a question!"
"What is the question baby girl?"
"What's your favorite color?"
You know what? It is a healthy practice. If I am not being adequately fed by or cultivating my relationship with Jesus not only do I suffer, but she suffers as well. I want to be a full and present mommy filled by grace when she isn't being that model little girl. I want to be so connected to the Holy Spirit that I see when an opportunity is wide open to share Jesus' love in a way that is meaningful to a 3 year old and pushes her toward a relationship with Him - yes, even at this age. I want my baby girl to love Jesus and she has to know that mommy loves Jesus so much that even she can't "interrupt".
My biggest hurdle of spending quality, uninterrupted time with Him is being a mommy. What is yours? Work, school, family, hobbies (i.e., "me time"), church/ministry, apathy ...? Each of us have a responsibility to spend intentional, deliberate, purposeful time with the One who sustains us. We can not allow "life" to happen to the point we only give Him the pieces of our life that we aren't using at the time. He needs to be able to speak, love and give grace to each of us knowing we put Him first at all cost.
I am so glad that I not only felt led to go without loving adorable daughter that night, but that I obeyed. I know I am already the better for it.
Just Around the Corner,