There are too many times where I start running excuses through my mind for why I’m going to skip a church service. The energy it takes just to think about getting all the boys ready and out the door is exhausting, let alone actually getting there. When it comes down to it…well, I’d rather skip all that and have a cup of coffee while sitting on my couch.
But…I push through those thoughts, get the boys up, wrestle a little boy or two to let me get them dressed, and head out the door.
Every single time, I open the door to the church to walk inside and I instantly don’t know why I’d ever want to be anywhere else in the world. I think most everyone feels that struggle – the excuses for why we could skip today, the heaviness of exhaustion, all the reasons why we tell ourselves it’s not that big of a deal if we miss church today.
I’ve told you about Fr. James before. He’s not our parish priest but he’s friends with our parish priest and the two of them enjoy celebrating liturgy together once a week. This particular weekly service was supposed to be our Orthodox homeschoolers’ day too but that fizzled before it began – which I’m still sad about. So, it’s just me and my boys that go every week and we usually double (or more) the attendance.
Fr. Joseph, our parish priest, calls me every week to see if I’m coming the next day for liturgy then calls Fr. James to tell him to prepare a youth sermon JUST FOR MY KIDS. (Once in a while two or three other kids will show up, but that’s just seen as bonus in their eyes.) You have to understand, Fr. James goes all out. He has visuals and props and always has my kids interact and be part of the sermon. Seriously, the thoughtfulness of these two men is touching and I will forever be grateful for them and what they’ve done for my family.
Last week…a series of events snowballed where I had dealt with a child earlier in the week who told me he was never going to put forth effort because he didn’t deserve anything good in his life, Les got to go to liturgy with us because he had to work extra hours, and Fr. James gave a divinely inspired sermon to us. Half way through Fr. James’ sermon, I was literally crying. The type of crying only my parents have seen when I was a kid and Les when no one else was around.
My dad once told me that God is always talking to us, we just choose whether we want to listen or not. Well…there was definitely not any subtlety last week. I’ve looked for years for a therapist for my boys and was continually turned down. God picked Fr. James for my boys.
He talked to my boys about how even when you feel broken and useless, that God can still do great things through you. That if you turn to God, help others in need similar to yourself, and most importantly of all – forgive yourself! – then you can heal. Who randomly picks that topic for an 11, 13, and 14 year old?! Seriously now. I’m not even sure if he knows that we adopted them from foster care, because we’ve never said anything about it to him. He could not have given a more personalized and perfect talk to my boys if I had briefed him beforehand. He even had my child, who had told me he was broken and useless, acting out the (real life) story of a boy who was hit by a truck and permanently crippled from the incident. The boy never forgot the accident, struggled with it mentally well into his 20’s, and never fully recovered physically from it – but he was able to heal and find peace by helping others who were also physically handicapped. Later, he became a bishop.
So, this week, I hushed any desires that attempted to surface to skip church, stay home, and drink coffee…and I got my boys ready – and we went.