The Sunday morning struggle is real for those of us who desire to get our families to church. Even more difficult if we want to actually get them there on time! Sunday morning is when the shoes mysteriously disappear, breakfast staples have all been eaten, no one wants to get ready, everyone oversleeps, and yes, the keys get locked in the car. Let’s not forget the toothpaste tasting funny and the refusal of getting buckled into car seats!
I start Sunday mornings optimistic, yet hesitant. I’ve had too many of them go awry to take anything for granted anymore. Inevitably, we start out great, but by the time we’re in the van, I’ve lost my temper, someone has either cried or yelled back, and everyone’s grumpy. Yet, I have to walk into church with a smile and pretend everything’s wonderful. I hate it. I hate the hypocrisy, especially when I know I can’t possibly be the only one with this struggle.
Our family struggle used to be weekly, then I went through a study on Ephesians 6 and we made the conscious decision to begin to treat Sunday mornings as a spiritual battle. We have come to the understanding that we really are not struggling against our kids; we’re struggling against Satan himself.
I was reminded of this truth anew just this morning. I had a sinking pit in my stomach while we got ready for church. I had been up for an hour with a coughing boy in the middle of the night, the children were tired from a full day Saturday, everyone was up early, and Daddy had to leave to run sound a full hour before we were to head out the door. I prayed for God to protect our family, then proceeded with our routine. As per usual, everything unraveled right at the end. But, we did take time to pray in the van before getting to the parking lot and everyone was in a better mood when we walked into the building.
I had to teach children’s church and I was uncharacteristically apprehensive. When the kids arrived, I knew why: we had four visitors and an unusually high attendance. I took a minute to look at the kids before I began the program and it was then that I realized what this high attendance truly meant.
It meant more families than just mine made the conscious decision to attend church. More than likely, the majority went through the same telltale struggle of getting everyone’s shoes on and out the door…possibly even on time. We made the choice to hustle the kids out the door when everything in us may have wanted to stay home and bury ourselves back under the blankets. We got in those vans and SUV’s, set the coffee we haven’t yet touched in the cup holder, and buckled the wriggling children into uncomfortable car seats, even when the coffee was begging to be drunk in the comfort of home. We did it. We made it to church.
The high attendance of kids this morning gave me hope that we won’t be the generation that forgets about the Lord. We are always only one generation away from our children not knowing the greatness of our God. Unfortunately, that generation is going to be the product of parents who give in and stay home. The parents who find the comforts of home, sleep, warmth, and peaceful children greater than the battle of getting them to church.
We are in a war for our own souls and that of our children. We can’t give up the fight, even when it looks dismal and the thought of “yet another Sunday” feels too much to bear. I can’t tell you how many Sundays I’ve gotten to church frustrated and feeling like a giant hypocrite. I’ve cried on friend’s shoulders and vented to moms of older kids. The response I get is always the same: We’ve all been there. We all make the choice every Sunday to try again. And we do it because we love our Lord and know church is the place our family needs to be.
For what it’s worth, here’s our imperfect family’s Sunday plan, in case you’re like I was a few years ago, struggling and wishing I knew how to make it better:
- Don’t try to do things like baths Sunday morning. Don’t even try to make fancy Sunday breakfasts! Do as much as you can Saturday evening – baths, picking out clothes, setting out shoes, jackets, hair bows, Bibles, diaper bags, teaching material. Even pour the juice and put the cereal in baggies if that helps.
- Pray Saturday evening before bed that God would put a hedge around your house to keep anything that’s not His, away. Be proactive in the battle for your family.
- Get yourself up early enough Sunday morning that you can be ready completely before trying to help the kids.
- Be ready to leave five minutes before you need to actually head out the door – like a leeway time to help avoid being late.
- Pray in the car together as a family on the way to church.
None of this is fool-proof. I did all of the above and still struggled this morning. But, apologies were made and forgiveness was given before we pulled into the parking lot. Sundays are far from perfect, but they are markedly better since we began being proactive and treating it like the battle it is and not merely fighting with the kids to “make Sunday happen.”
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
To those of you fighting this battle with us – I applaud you, stand with you in the trenches, and encourage you to never give up. Keep going. Keep bringing them to church. Fight the good fight. You’re doing a great job, Sunday Mom.