As I try my best to focus on Christ this Holy Week, amongst kids and life and company coming, I’m reminded of a truth I reflected on six years ago…and journaled about. Six years later, my own writing and experience (and the words of my then three-year-old daughter) puts my current life and experiences in perspective:
It was a busy week: Holy Week, my son Micah’s first birthday, and a visit from my in-laws. As usual, I had cut out too much for myself: painting the dining room, making a homemade birthday cake, and completely cleaning out the guest room closet. By Thursday, I was totally exhausted from all I had done, and a bit overwhelmed by what was still left to do.
I had one more day before Micah’s birthday and my in-laws’ arrival, and I still had the cake to make and the house to clean. I could possibly manage both of those feats, if we weren’t going to the Maundy Thursday service that night at our church. I was looking forward to the service, though. Having grown up going to Maundy Thursday services, it was meaningful to me. It was an experience that evoked good memories and was a tradition I wanted to pass along to my children. I wanted this Christ-centered evening to be an important part of our celebration of Easter. I was also looking forward to attending because I knew it would be helpful for me to set aside that time to focus on the true meaning of Easter.
With my heart telling me one thing (to go to the Maundy Thursday service), and reality telling me another (there’s no way I could), I was torn. As I wrestled over this dilemma, it eventually struck me that my children would just be in the nursery; they weren’t old enough to attend the service. Plus, it would be a late night for them, and with a big day ahead, they needed a full night of sleep. With these factors in mind (and my long list of things to do, of course), I finally concluded that staying home was probably the wisest choice. This Easter tradition didn’t have to start this year. I thought I was okay with the decision.
Then, 6:45 rolled around. I was busy cooking dinner; Randy, my husband, was not coming home until 7:00, so I had decided to do baths first and dinner together as a family when he arrived home. But, as I was slaving over the kitchen stove, I started thinking of all the families and people who were most likely arriving at church. Exhausted from the bath ritual and meal preparation, I envied those people. Peacefully sitting in church, focusing on God, seemed immensely appealing. Suddenly, I desperately wanted to be there! Who cares about another late night for the kids! Who cares about all I still have to do!
“Kiersten,” I ventured to my pajama’d daughter coloring in the kitchen nook, “how would you like to go to church tonight?”
“Right now, Mommy?” she questioned, a little baffled by the suggestion.
“I know,” I muttered, realizing the impossibility of the task. Eating dinner, dressing the kids, and making myself presentable in less than fifteen minutes was completely out of the question (and that didn’t even include driving and nursery drop-off time). Like it or not, the decision had been made.
With the irrationality of going to church determined, I dolefully continued my motherly duties. I trudged along as I set the table, put food on the plates, and focused on the final touches of dinner. Life as a mother of preschoolers seemed rather unfulfilling and God-less at that moment.
“What’s wrong, Mommy? Why are you so sad?” I heard a little voice ask, full of concern. I was unaware that my emotions had been that obvious to her.
“I wish we could go to church tonight, Sweet-pea,” I said, “but we’re too late.”
“Why would we go to church tonight?” she inquired.
I explained to her that tonight was Jesus’ last supper with His friends before He was to be taken away. The church was having a special service to celebrate and remember Him.
Without skipping a beat, she stated: “We can celebrate Jesus at home, Mommy.”
Her words convicted me. Yes, Kiersten, we can. Thank you, for reminding me, teaching me, of that profound, simple truth. I think God spoke to me just as much in that moment, as I was convinced He would have in that ever-so-important church service.