Last night I sat in a meeting of some of the key leaders of our church, being poked, prodded, climbed and kicked by my children: one on the outside and one on the inside. I am sure I spent more time getting up to assist my son with the potty, or help him locate a particular toy car than I did sitting down. While the others took notes or discussed ideas, I tried to convince my little boy to eat sandwiches and tried my hardest to listen to other grown-ups talking about grown-up things over the top of Jasper listing all the colours he could see. My main contribution was “ssshhh!” (directed at my child, not the other leaders!). It was frustrating in the extreme and I just kept thinking to myself “this is so hard!”.
It would have been so much easier to be at home, where instead of a sandwich, I would no doubt be trying to get my son to eat something I had cooked, with vegetables in it. My success rate might not have been any better, but at least I wouldn’t have been worried about whether or not his perfectly natural, two year old noise level was disrupting others. It would’ve been so much easier if all I had to worry about was how much food went into his mouth, not whether he was derailing a meeting while he ate. It would be so much easier to avoid these scenarios, to remove myself from positions of leadership and influence, until my children are older – that’s what I was thinking throughout much of that meeting.
Maybe it would be easier, to leave behind the world of events, meetings and countless volunteer hours that we as a family have devoted to building the church. Maybe I should just get this season out of the way. That sometimes feels very tempting.
However, I am convinced that I would not be able to parent my children as effectively if I sidestepped the calling that God has placed on my life, which above all is to build the church. These little people, one of whom is not even born yet, will grow up not just hearing me talk about the importance of gathering with and supporting other believers, but seeing me pour my heart and soul, often my tears, very often my laughter, into facilitating that gathering. When they are older, they will know the church and they will feel known within it; they will understand that this is their place and these are their people. My son already does.
I hope they will be able to see that the church is a little bit stronger, a little bit better, because mummy and daddy worked their butts off to make it that way, along with an incredible community of like-minded people, even when the seasons of life made it difficult.
I hope that they will see that we have sown our time and finances, not in spite of having children to raise, but because of them. One day it will be their turn to lead, to push through the limitations that my generation faced and extend the boundaries of the kingdom of God. When that day comes, I want to be able to say I have done everything I could do to build the best platform for them to launch from.
Full disclosure: I cried a bit as I wrote this, because I know that the majority of those years of making hard choices to be part of the heart and soul of our church, no matter what, are still in front of me. Perhaps those choices will always be hard and the reasons will just change, but I know that being part of this incredible community and having the opportunity to lead and encourage others and to serve our community – these things are worth making hard choices for.
Being part of the heart and soul of church is sometimes hard, but it is always worth it. Ultimately, I hope this is what my children will learn as we walk this journey together. I also wouldn’t mind if they learned to play quietly during the odd meeting.
“The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.”
Written by Jen Grubb