Today at church, we had an instructional liturgy. This was great, as it allowed our family (new to Anglicanism) to learn why we do what we do each Sunday morning. Throughout the service, the verger explained portions of the service to us. I learned a lot, but one thing that stuck with me was something the rector said: that liturgy is the work of the people. It's not the work of the staff, the vestry, the "people in funny clothes" as he said. It's my job as a part of worship to work out my salvation (with fear and trembling). Now, I must confess that this process of working it out is not easy - or pretty. In fact, I was brought face to face with just how messy it is this morning.
Before leaving for service this morning, I was reading in the current Bible study I'm doing. The study is called Breaking Free and my hope is that this study will show me the things in my life and in my heart that keep me from experiencing God's freedom in my daily life. So this morning, I was making notes about some of the things I've realized take me captive. The first was one I've known for a while: fear. I am afraid of many things on a daily basis. A simple question to a stranger can cause anxiety, especially if I fear the question will elicit a less than favorable response. Fear of conflict occupies a very large space in the miasma of fear in my heart. The other thing that I've recently been acutely aware of is my fear of what other people think of me.
|Kids being kids, part one - a picture worth framing|
|Chihuly at Dusk - It really is stunning|
|Kids being kids, part two - climbing on an old garden door|
The night at Cheekwood followed close on the heels of another difficult parenting moment. B had a rough night Wednesday and her behavior was, in fact, so poor that J and I decided to cancel a portion of her birthday party. Just days before, we sent out invitations for her friends to join us for dinner, bowling and a sleep-over. But her behavior left us feeling like a big consequence was necessary and cutting the birthday party short felt like the right repercussion. I hated telling the parents that dinner and bowling were still on, but the sleepover was no longer on the agenda. Their responses were uniformly supportive. One mom even told me she admired my willingness to make the hard decision. But I hated to do it. I hated to disappoint B. I hated to change our plans. I hated for these other parents to know I have a daughter who misbehaves. (Crazy, right? Like their children never misbehave? I know, but rational thoughts don't apply to these fears of mine.)
And then came this morning. J wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home from church. It was only after we arrived that I realized how challenging this would make my morning: instructional liturgy means no Sunday School for the children. Even 6 year old K was expected to attend service with me. I took a deep breath and plunged ahead. I led the three girls to the area where we normally sit, but B said, "I want to sit closer." Since B is generally the most challenging of my daughters when it comes to church, I figured it was wise to follow her lead. Where did she lead us? To the front row. Not a row near the front. The first row in the sanctuary. As we sat down, I leaned over to B and whispered, "Since you want to sit in the very front, I expect you to be on your best behavior." "OK," she replied. Easier said than done. I didn't keep count of the number of times I had to ask B or K to change their behavior, but I did note in my journal during the service:
Doing the work of our salvation is not easy. Knowing that others' opinions of me are too important is one thing - being broken of this is another as I stand/sit in the front row and watch my daughters sit, stand and squirm in front of the body of Christ. Pride is ugly and it lives in me.
Yet the key to breaking this bondage of fear in my heart was contained right there in the service: "The Lord is my helper. What can man do to me?" So I'll keep preparing my heart to know more of what God wants for me and I'll keep trying to respond to his promptings. I'll keep hoping to break free of bonds that should not enslave me. I'll try to remind myself that my daughters are children - whether at Cheekwood or St. Bartholomew's. And it's OK for them to act like children. If I want them to be who they are, I shouldn't expect anything less.
|Kids being kids, part three - inspecting the water lilies|