See, we lived in a small town, and the new church was about two towns over. Being a transplant from the north, I never had the huge network of friends that so many others around here have. So my prayer for my children was that they would have that. That their friends at church would be their friends from school, they would grow up feeling that wonderful sense of community, and they wouldn’t have to choose between doing things with friends from school or friends from church…
because those two groups would be the same. This second church was home for me, but not for them. It was the church where I’d drive up on Sunday morning and a sweet man named Derrick would pick up the two carseats, carry them one in each arm to the nursery, while I followed behind with their bag. Magically, the car seemed to park itself (not really, Barry was my official car parker), and when church was over, the processed reversed. My car was waiting out front, and here would come Derrick, one twin in each hand. THIS WAS HOME.
Then going on two years ago, we moved to “town”. It became more and more obvious to the twins that they were feeling like outsiders at church, because everyone else lived in the community, and were neighbors, while we weren’t. It didn’t help that for so many years I worked in a job where I didn’t get off work until after Wednesday church started, so they missed that additional fellowship time. I loved our church, loved being in the choir, loved all of my friends. One morning there were several little girls being baptized, and my daughter AB was one of them. When it seemed like 90% of the people that came up to us didn’t know her name OR mine, I vowed to help find the kids a place in our community where the entire family could worship, be close enough to home that we could make it to church mid-week, and prayed that it would have friends from school in their age group so that people who should recognize us, would.
It seemed easier to pray for noontime tea with Peter Pan, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. Served up by a purple-haired unicorn.
Every few months or so, I promised the kiddos we would look for somewhere close to school. We’d go once, and then the next few weeks, go back “home”. They were getting tired of looking, and neither the new churches nor our old felt like home to them. I even caught Nathan asking to stay home one Sunday in January. Now I know you’re supposed to train up a child and all, and a 7 year old shouldn’t get to choose to stay home from church. But I also know that forcing God down N’s throat is the opposite of what he needs. He’s already asked Jesus into his heart, so now it’s more about finding a place where he feels comfortable learning about who God is so he can enjoy going to church.
So that day in January, I let N stay home and just AB and I went to a new church. A new old church. It was the same church they’d gone to as infants for their parents-night-out program whenever the hubs and I went out on a date. She liked it. I liked it. We talked a little about it on the way home, and then went back to our home church the next week. And the week after. And every week since… except last week, when we went back to the January church.
Both kiddos came this time. Guess who was there? One of their friends from school. A good friend, not just an acquaintance.
Be. Still. My. Heart.
You know the funniest thing? In all our searching, I’d always compared the prospective church to our second church, but the new one never measured up. The choir wasn’t good enough, the folks weren’t as friendly, it was too far, the music was too much like a rock show, too this, too that, this twin didn’t like it, that twin didn’t like it, or there was something about the pastor I just couldn’t put my finger on. With many of them, the church was fine. I could recommend it to dozens of friends, it just wasn’t right for us. And each time I couldn’t wait to go back to my church.
But last week was different. The choir wasn’t as good, but it was okay, for once I didn’t mind. And I remember thinking in the pew, before I’d even found out that their friend was at church, how monumental it was that that I didn’t mind.
It is amazing to me that in all this time that I’d been praying for the kids to find a church with friends from school in it, that when that prayer would be answered, everything else I’d been worried about finding in the perfect church… the choir, how friendly everyone is, whether or not they have AWANAS… wouldn’t be anything I’d worry about at all. It would all be insignificant the minute you realize it’s an answer to prayer.