Admit it, you laughed. You probably laughed because you’re a parent and you know it’s painfully true. Or you laughed because you’re not a parent and you are thinking, “This is why I don’t have kids.” Either way, it’s still funny.
Getting kids to church is the absolute worst. It really is. Nothing goes right. Everyone is tired and uncooperative. You’re tired and frustrated and you want a nap and it’s not even 9:00 yet. You’re running late and your coffee is cold and you just want to say, “No! Not today! No church. Let’s just stay home. This isn’t worth it.”
But what you really should say is, “Not today, Satan.”
Because the Devil’s in the details.
A very wise friend once shared with me that she and her husband would get into an argument every time they went to planning meetings for their mission trips. They would be on their way to talk about how to share His love with people who don’t know Him, and the devil would find a way to creep in and and distract them from their goal. They would arrive to their meetings frustrated and unable to focus on spreading the Word.
It’s the same with bringing children to church. You’re doing your best to make sure they know God, and know the church is where we worship Him, but Satan does his best to make sure you never make it there.
He’s in the sleepiness that keeps your family in bed.
He’s in the burned pancakes that have to be remade in a hurry.
He’s in the coffee that you forgot to buy yesterday so now you’ll have to face this without caffeine.
He’s the shoes that are missing and the matching bows that can’t be found.
He’s in the wrinkled shirt and the scuffed dress shoes.
He’s in the empty gas tank when you’re already running late.
He’s in every single red light that just won’t turn green.
He’s in the lack of parking spaces and the rain that starts right when you find a good one.
He’s in the eye rolls and glares you get from people who have forgotten what it’s like to have young children.
He’s in your head strong toddlers who are doing their best to distract you from the word of the Lord.
He’s in the endless potty breaks during the sermon that you’re missing. Again.
He’s in your 2 year old who dodges the priest’s blessing which you’re pretty sure is about to get you exiled from the church.
He’s in the details. He’s lurking, waiting, learning your triggers so he can use them against you later. He’s there, making sure the path to God isn’t easy and even more difficult when you’re towing little people behind you.
Be strong, my friends. Your kids need you to find your armor and a shield and use it against the wickedness of Satan. They need you to show them the way to God, even if it’s not easy and it takes every ounce of patience in your body to get them to God’s house. Patience can be refilled with Him, with Starbucks, with queso, with prayer.
My armor and shield are the steps I take to make sure Satan isn’t there when I wake up on Sunday. It’s laying out complete outfits on Saturday night. It’s packing the church bags full of goldfish and crayons. It’s making sure the coffee maker is on and ready to deliver the delicious nectar that propels me through the day. It’s grabbing donuts on the way to church when we’re out of pancake mix, and making sure the baby wipes are fully stocked. It’s avoiding the people who deliver the glares of judgement and embracing those who embrace my family. It’s choosing to focus on the message instead of the misbehaving 2 year old begging to be held.
Be steadfast, smarter, and stronger than the Devil. He’s in the details and the frustrating moments, but God is our big picture. He’s our end game. He’s our forever.
You’ve got this, parents.
This is the prayer our parish says at the conclusion of every Mass. How great it this prayer in relation to the path to church on Sunday mornings?