When we started going to our church, my kids were both pretty young – 3 and 7. Our church has a balcony, and most of the people who sat up there were families like us – with young children who were restless during the long service. There is a children’s service that takes the kids out from the beginning of the service until after the sermon, but not all kids went. We also have these coloring packets for children that have a coloring page, crayons and two pipe cleaners – either for poking siblings, or for the parents to make flowers or crosses out of, depending on the mood of the child. Many times, the restlessness and accompanying noise made it hard to pay attention to the service – especially to the sermon. One day, in a fleeting moment of clarity, I realized that my whole life was “in the balcony”. Listening to God’s word was hard enough at church, but in the real word, it was even harder. There is always something to distract me from that small voice in my head – wrestling the kids out of bed, trying to force some nutrition into them before taking them wherever they had to go, homework, getting dinner on the table, baths, bedtime, late night calls for water or company. I actually probably heard more when we were sitting in the balcony because I really had to work at it.
I realized that I’d have to try harder to focus on that voice, and have had some success. But even though we’ve graduated out of the balcony to the front row of the church (my youngest daughter’s choice for seating), I still find that I allow myself to be too distracted, and don’t take enough time to just be still. My prayer time is limited to quick, if heartfelt, lines like “please make sure Hannah is safe on the road today” or “please let Sara not have strep throat again” or “please don’t let a tree fall on my house in the storm tonight.” Only once in a while do I actually stop and realize that I need to take more time to grow in my spirituality. And once I realize this, I generally get distracted by some other need, my own or my family’s, and so it goes.
But in spite of my seeming lack of attention, God still works in my life. It continues to amaze me that regardless of where I am at any given moment, God is right there whether or not I see Him. He certainly deserves more attention that I give Him, but He doesn’t sigh and give up, He still waits – and patiently at that. If I had to wait like that for my kids to pay attention to me, I’d probably throttle them, but God just waits. Every now and again, when I get a glimpse, it’s almost like He smiles and waves as if to say “yep, I’m still here…” and then, unfortunately, I allow the image to fade again.
As I write in this blog, I hope to allow myself to focus a bit more, and to see, in the day to day workings of my life, that God is working and present, and that He loves me regardless of my shortcomings. I may also write about things unrelated to spirituality, but ultimately, doesn’t it all come back to the blessings I have?