My boys behave badly in church. We have weeks when they talk, when they wiggle or play with distracting things. But sometimes they just fight.
In an effort to change behavior patterns that I thought were made worse by the anonymity of back-row seating, a while ago I decided to move forward in church, sitting front and center to let the kids feel all those eyes burning into the backs of their heads. Problem is it’s not working. Or maybe there aren’t all that many eyes judging them…
Living Water might not be the church to shame my kids into behaving properly during worship. Over the past 6 years, they have shown many sides of themselves to this congregation, and yet we are always treated with love, care, and respect.
On this particular Sunday, my boys decided that gum wrappers were worth fighting over, knock-down kind of fighting. Yes, ready to hit and kick one another over a tidbit of paper while seated in the third row smack dab in the center. All during Pastor Dan’s sermon.
On this particular Sunday, my boys decided that gum wrappers were worth fighting over, knock-down kind of fighting.
After I managed to physically insert myself (by standing up, in the midst of a seated congregation and moving into the middle of the mayhem) I got one boy to keep his hands to himself on my right and kept the other boy on my lap.
The one on my lap is the one who needs physical contact to let his guard down and let go of the fight. And that’s what he did. He pressed his head into my shoulder and said, “I’m sorry, Mommy. Will you forgive me?”
What was that verse in Luke 17 saying? If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; if he repents forgive him. Even if he comes to you seven times in a day and repents, forgive him seven times.
I’m sorry, Mommy. Will you forgive me?
I realized at that moment that I would forgive my Brothers seven times seventy because these boys aren’t done yet. All the rebuking in the world may not lessen the number of opportunities to forgive again. I thank God for giving me the faith to believe it’s all for good.
As for the other son, no apology, no pleading for forgiveness. But he held my hand, even sang the next song with me. I forgave him just the same (and rebuked him just the same).
This day’s consequences came by staying after the service to pick up papers throughout the auditorium (yes, I had to assign them separate sections so they didn’t fight over the scraps as they found them).
I forgave him just the same (and rebuked him just the same).
And the rest of the scripture reading reminded me that with faith the size of a mustard seed, I can expect obedience – if only my kids were mulberry trees being told to be uprooted and planted in the sea. I’ll work that one out later.
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