Sunday morning worship wasn’t that out of the ordinary, other than that by the time the 10:45 service rolled around, I realized I hadn’t gone to the bathroom at all that morning, and my bladder was about to explode from all the coffee. ALL THE COFFEE! So after the passing of the peace I trucked back to go, and decided to just sit in the back (normally I am up front sitting next to Nate).
It was an amazing vantage point, and I was particularly struck by one mother and daughter (the daughter is about 14 years old) and their interactions. The daughter was repeatedly laying her head on her mothers shoulder or lap, and I could only presume she was sleeping.
And it was beautiful.
That might sound weird, to have a Pastor and the wife of the Pastor preaching at the time, to find it beautiful that someone was asleep during the sermon, but it was, it is.
Why? Because that 14 year old was comfortable enough to sleep in her church, and her mother let her sleep, letting her own body be used as comfort for her daughter.
I was instantly taken back to myself in a similar situation. I was 14, my family was in a church that I simply wasn’t connecting with. Up until that point my father had always been the Pastor of the church we attended, and there were some privileges and notoriety that went along with that for the Pastor’s kids. But now he held a conference position, and he might as well have worked at State Farm (Bloomington-Normal is the world capitol of State Farm, you can thank me when and if that ever comes up at a Trivia Night all you Trivia Lovin’ St. Louisians!”) for all my peers cared. So I didn’t go to Youth Group, and I didn’t go to Sunday School, but my parents still tried to push me to go to church.
They didn’t always succeed. Some Sundays I would lock myself in the bathroom fully clothed (sitting in the bathtub to make myself feel a little less guilty) and refuse to open the door, saying:
“Oops, I’m still in the tub, guess I won’t be ready in time, sorry, better go without me”
That can only work so many times. . .
When I would go to church with them I would without fail, fall asleep.
And my mother or Father would let me lean my head on their shoulder, and wouldn’t wake me.
I was probably tired because I was a growing teenager. Or I was up on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) all night trying to muster up the courage to IM boys I had crushes on who had things about Jesus and guitars in their screen names. Mustering up that courage and never actually doing it takes a lot of energy out of a girl! Or I was pouring over Vogue and InStyle magazines, thinking, “I bet if I start working out, and convince my parents to let me buy more clothes from the Limited and Abercrombie, then, then I’ll look like Elizabeth Hurley, or Liv Tyler, but for now I’ll just rip this page out of the magazine, put it in my goals binder, and feel like I’ve accomplished something”.
Hey! They had the same hair color as me, so, it seemed plausible.
Whatever the reason, or justification, I slept.
And unlike my peers, their parents, the other adults in the church, knew exactly who my Father was. He held a conference position for goodness sake! A really, really, big deal in the insular world of the United Methodist Church.
But they let me sleep.
With everyone watching.
They let me sleep.
I don’t think I knew the magnitude of that decision then. I don’t know that I did until Sunday when I saw this mother lovingly stroke her daughters hair while she rested.
It was a pivotal time in my faith life, it was a pivotal time in my life. Mean girls, and mean boys abounded. I hated everything about myself, my height, my weight, my baby sized teeth, my nonexistent calves, my nasal tinged voice, everything.
And the social structures set up by the church were simply places for mean girls and mean boys to take on those roles “in the name of Jesus”. I could have been done with church. I could have written it off completely.
But they let me sleep.
Despite what others might have thought.
Despite what it looked like.
Despite who it offended.
They let me sleep.
They didn’t do everything right (sorry Mom and Dad, but you also taught me to be honest).
But this was so, so, so, right.
Amongst a myriad of other things, this kept me from writing off church.
Because in my heart I knew, even if I didn’t in my head yet, that God’s house was to be a place of comfort, a place of rest, a place of peace, and my parents had allowed it to be.
This mother was allowing it to be such a place for her daughter.
And while that mother may never know what that will do, in her own daughters life, it wrecked me back newfound to my purpose as this quote embodied itself in my ever aging, often weary heart:
“Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains”
And now I must be off. Because I was reminded, I’ve got mountains to move.
peace to you,