It’s 11:05 on a Sunday morning. We’re on our way to church. Given that services start at 11, and we’re still a good 10 minutes away, tension is high. It doesn’t feel like the appropriate moment to bellow Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah or crank out some tinny boy band worship music. It’s best I opt for silence.
I wish my husband would, also. Instead, he sits rigidly in the passenger seat, giving me driving directions to a church I could find with my eyes shut. “Make a right on Winnetko… You’ll save the stop signs.”
“Thank you, Captain Obvious!” I want to quip.
Instead, I nod and smile, trying not to notice his rugged jaw line getting more and more clenched at the cars that speed up and slow down in front of us – as if intentionally wanting us to be the very last people to arrive at services.
Rex and I might be glowering, but spirits are high in the back seat as our kids laugh hysterically at a downloaded Cupcake Factory game on my phone. They could care less that they should be in Sunday school, knee deep in learning about Noah’s animals walking two by two up the ark. Instead, they’re opting for doughnuts rolling two by two down their virtually built assembly line.
Before merging to my right, in a vain attempt to gain five seconds towards our arrival, I glance at the rearview mirror. The coast is clear, but the screen of my smart phone is not. It couldn’t be cloudier if they dunked it in mud.
“Didn’t you wash your hands after pancakes?” I ask, tossing a bag of wipies over my shoulder. (My kids are ten and nine – you’d think by now we’d have outgrown the baby wipe stage, but apparently not.) The package lands in bulls-eye precision on the hand-held Samsung.
“Mama!” Stink (a nickname for his outrageous personality) whines in frustration, “You ruined our game!”
“You’re ruining my phone!” I quip back.
“You’re ruining my mood!” Rex adds.
“No one is going to ruin my day!” my daughter, Pipsqueak, chirps.
Once again, I glance in the rearview mirror, but instead of focusing on the smudged handheld device, I focus on my daughter’s face. Half Laura Ingalls, half Hermione Granger, she’s pragmatic, curious and forever optimistic. She is joy and peace despite less-than-perfect circumstances. She radiates Jesus.
Given that until late August, my husband had never stepped foot in a church… given that my son has a mild form of Tourette Syndrome and he couldn’t give a rip about a few tics… given that my daughter remains calm and centered despite her often harried and manic mother, I ought to be optimistic also. My face – my life – ought to be radiating Jesus, also.
It’s time to switch into the slow lane – both figuratively and metaphorically.
And so I do.
As I lower my speed and lower my voice, I speak with intention. And suddenly, just like that, the whole tone of our Sunday changes.
“What do you want to do after church?” I smile.
“Get a Slurpee!” Stink offers. “Me, too!” Pipper squeaks, followed by a big thumbs up from Papa.
That’s all it took. A perspective switch. Suddenly “I’m not late for church again.” I’m “Going for Slurpees with my family in one hour!”
So this morning, we’re not winning the ‘Most Punctual Family at Church’ award. Jesus loves me anyway. I can’t help but think that if He looked through the rear view mirror and saw my face, He wouldn’t see the smudges of life. He’d tell me he loved me – as I am. He’d remind me to focus on Him, not my faults.
And this morning, that’s enough.
We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. - Hebrews 12:22
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