As a writer, I am always acutely aware of my audience. In this environment, it is hard to have that awareness, but I keep a list of names in my head. If content is questionable, I run their faces by my brain and think, "Would I say this to their faces?" It helps the line of what to include and exclude generally crystal clear.
I wrote something last night that I've shared with many of my online friends, but I am reluctant to share here because, well . . . I am concerned about offending because it gets a little too honest in parts.
I've been sitting on this a day and have gotten positive response from my test audiences, so I will (with mild editing) include it here.
I say I know the God I worship. I talk about Him enough. I read about Him. I tell about Him. But talking to Him? Nah, that's dangerous stuff, so I save it for mealtimes and bedtime prayers (or the most desperate of situations). Sometimes I don't even know if I believe what I teach my children, so I don't always know why I scrub them and spruce them up, strap them into their car seats and shush their way through a service that, face it . . . it's been years since I had any idea what that man up front there was talking about.
I tell my girls, 'We're here to worship God. Sing with me and STOP THAT.' I tell my boy, 'Stop meowing and stand up and, for an hour, forget that you're two.' I prod my husband to wake up and lose my place in the song and my sharp awareness of the stares wears me down.
But these are the people who love me, right? This is my family. Who cares for me, watches out for me and supports me in all my parenting decisions (except for the ones that, well, we didn't do it that way when our kids were little).
I try to sing the next song, then realize that it's time to take Charlie down to the nursery so that I can come back for the sermon. I come back and spend six minutes arguing with Dixie about why she can't go potty (because she just went).
Again, I nudge the sleeping husband.
The man stands up to speak and I intend to know what he's saying. But then Melody wants to know where to find JONAH in the word search and Dixie took her crayon. Fumbling, I drop the crayon and crawl under the pew to retrieve it.
I pass out the change out of the corners of my purse. I hope we don't need it in the next few days and evenly distribute it to the girls and help them not lose it during the prayer. I fuss at them for dropping the coins in one at a time and then later for missing the one under the shoe they took off.
Then communion comes and my prayer is, "God, please do not let Melody choose ever again to use this silent and reflective time to ask, 'But Mommy? How did Daddy and God get the seed IN your tummy when they created my baby brother?' in such a loud, clear voice. I'm too busy keeping their clumsy, grabbing paws off the trays to think about this blood and body I partake of. The singing starts again and I am relieved that we've almost made it through alive. Again.
I open the Order of Worship (because all Worship must have Order) and I groan at the realization that the most long-winded of the elders will give the announcements and closing prayer and GAH!, there's a baptism after that.
What about the stuff in the crock pot at home? When they make this plan, they never take my crock pot into consideration!
We shake hands and make polite conversation. I, for the millionth time say, "No, eleven months and still no job. We're okay. We'll let you know if we need anything." (Will I let them know? I don't know. I secretly prefer it when they silently slip us money because I just don't know how to say, "I can't figure it out this month.")
It takes a rise in my blood pressure, some shouting and a few threatened spankings to get to the parking garage and argue over who gets to push which button in the elevator on the way down. The straggling scruffy children who started out the day so scrubbed and spruced are again strapped into their car seats. I turn on NPR and hope that Garrison Keillor can drown out all their backseat ramblings.
I'm so glad we worshiped God today.