I casually walked toward the front of the auditorium and took an end seat about four rows from the front. I have been attending church here for around twenty years and it was not unusual for me to be there alone. Suzanne will often stay home if we have a baby or if one of ours is sick. I don’t sit with friends, because I have a tendency to talk and misbehave. I’m well over fifty, but for some reason I find sitting for long periods of time quite troublesome.
Anyway, we had a sick little boy at home with a double ear infection and Suzanne refused to let me stay home and take care of him, so Allie and I took off to church to celebrate Mother’s Day. So, again, here I am singing during worship time and decided to look around the auditorium. I really wasn’t surprised by what I saw, even though slightly disappointed at some parts.
In many faces I saw joy. Some people are naturally radiant when they sing. Not me, I do try to smile when the words allow, but sometimes my mouth can’t do two things at once. Anyway, joy in the eyes of adults who have the pleasure of being with their own elderly moms. There was also joy in the eyes of the middle aged parents looking at their “little” girl celebrating her first Mother’s Day. It was and is a beautiful sight to behold. One couldn’t help but smile along with them.
Then there were eyes of sadness and remembrance where families had recently lost their beloved mom, or wife, or grandmother. Eyes wishing that they could have spent one more Mother’s Day so they could tell “mom” how much she really meant. To say the things they never got around to saying, because it just didn’t seem like the right time.
Then I spied a family, actually several, but I will single out this one. In this family, there was a multitude of emotions going on. The most obvious was the mom. Her face said it all – “why did I even bother?” There was anger, and self-pity. “I’m not happy” just screamed from the look in her eyes. I’m sure she thought, ”they will miss me when I’m gone.”
Beside her sat her disassociated husband. The look on his face said “I know there is somewhere else I need to be.” If he noticed his wife’s mood, he wasn’t letting on. In his mind he must have been on a golf course or on the beach.
Then I saw the teenage daughter’s face. The look of disgust, and anger. She looked as if she could have called down fire to destroy her parents (mom) for making her come to church. She was probably missing hanging with her friends and her mother forced her to be here.
I continued to glance around all through the twenty minutes of worship and no smiles were cracked, and no praise was sung. It was sad, really sad. My heart went out to each one of them. Why? Because we have all been there.
Sure, the Bible says to honor your father and mother, but it also says fathers (parents) not to exasperate your children. If your adult or semi-adult child doesn’t want to come to church, maybe they will settle for lunch. If you force them, you will only build resentment and hatred. Guilt doesn’t work either. You can’t make your child want to be with you, no matter how much you love them.
Kids, you really need to spend important times with your parents, times important to them. If you come out of obligation, you miss the whole point. You do things with parents, because you love them. And, you want to spend time with them.
That love we all crave starts from the very beginning. Showing our kids what we want with respect and love. Kids also need discipline which is part of love. If you try to put yourself in charge after your kids turn teens, it won’t work. You have to be the parent from the beginning. You can’t be your child’s best friend. If so, all respect is lost. Kids don’t listen to you when they do not respect you.
Wounds heal with time and sometimes when you think you have lost the battle, that prodigal child comes home.
I do miss my own mom. She died several years ago, and there are always things we wish we would have said. But, no regrets. I look at my wife as she still mothers little ones and I can see the love she instills into each baby. I see my own daughters. Two of the three are married and the love they have for their little ones is the same love that their mom instilled in them.
I hope all the moms who read this will continue to love their children, have the patience their children need, and have forgiveness in their hearts for wayward children and disassociated husbands. We need you.
Oh, speaking of love. May is Foster Care Awareness Month. I pulled some information off the Dropping Anchors Blog on Facebook and this is what I found:
*Over 415,000 children live in foster care in the US because of child abuse reports.
*Over 100,000 children in foster care are eligible for adoption, but one-third will wait over three years before being adopted.
*25% are infants.
*The average age of a child in foster care is 2 years old, and 50% are separated from their brothers and sisters.
*Over 23,000 teens will age out of the system without a family to call their own.
*Those kids that age out will normally experience homelessness, drug and alcohol dependence, sexual abuse and commit crimes.
Kids belong in families. Families that care and love. Fostering is not an easy job, as a matter of fact, it is one of the hardest, most difficult jobs I’ve ever done, besides parenting. A lot of people say “I just couldn’t let them go.” More often than not, you don’t need to. Others say, “I would love them too much.” Don’t you wish that sometimes someone would love you too much?
Look into foster care. You could change the life of a child, not to mention your own, forever.