Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Sunday Machine

I sit here this morning thinking back two years ago, then we would be up, running around getting dressed, brushing hair, eating a quick breakfast and out the door to church, the whole family. Now like all Sunday mornings, it is quiet, Adam may or may not take the older boys, and I will be at home caring for Alex.
I wonder how many other parents are at home today, who used to go to church, or would really like to start. However, your child's needs are much too great for the church to handle. Or maybe you simply fear your child would be too much of a distraction for the class, or maybe you are just plain scared of what people would think or say about your precious differently abled child. So here we all sit.
The Sunday machine roars on without us, people shuffling around, in a hurry, sometimes angry because things aren't flowing, somebody spilled on their Sunday best. The stress level is high in the car, but pull into that parking lot at church, the smiles are pasted on.
The Hallelujahs, and God bless yous are said, and the stress of the morning melts among the songs.
A few amens are shouted out when the message is about reaching out to those in need, who are hurting, however, those who are alone go unreached, and midway through the smiles, that hungry stomach growls, and eyes look at the clock, minds start wondering about what food will fill their bellies just as soon as that guy is done talking.
He is finally done, and the race to get the kids begins, not forgetting to say God bless you, as one fights through the crowd of people. Out the door, and off to the favorite restaurant of the week. So is the Sunday Machine.
I used to be a part of it, I grew up in church and I believed that if people really wanted to go to church then they would be there, and I judged them, and made my own opinions on why they weren't there, and I thought that if someone couldn't get there, or had a need, the church would not let it slip by. The church however, lets lots of people slip by, and people continue to form opinions on why they arent at church.
This morning I think of you mommas whose children need so much medical attention you couldn't leave them in a room with 10 other kids and one teacher, and feel safe. Your children who are so delayed the other babies in the room would trample yours, whose children are loud, rock, and at home its like a rhythmic song, but in public you just want to hide.
In a perfect world every church would have special teachers, or volunteers to be an aid to special children, or rooms for differently abled kids, and parents would feel safe leaving their babies. The church would find a way to get you to church. The phone would ring, visits would be made. In a perfect world parents wouldn't feel they needed to protect their children from the blank looks down on their child in a place so filled with love.
The world isn't perfect though, and so here we sit. Sunday morning again.


Following Him said...

You are so strong and it amazes me. As Alex grows up, the future may be bleak, but with you by his side, anything is possible. I will not be going today as I have strep, but will be inspired through many around me! Happy Sunday! Yes, I am usually apart of that Sunday machine too :)

Mandy said...

While I'm not in your same position, I'm one of those moms in a way. I usually take my daughter to church and my husband stays home with Grady. We just can't risk Grady getting something from a kid in the nursery and we can't ask the nursery workers to take the extra work that would go with trying to keep a 15 month old away from germs.
Have you seen Brent Riggs blog? He does a Sunday morning message for parents who can't attend church.

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing Jessica.

We did not get back into church until this fall and we still only go to Sunday school. I wondered what people would think about AnnaKate. Why was a 2 and a half year old in the 12-18 month old room. Why could she not walk? The first day back the head of the nursery spoke to me about AnnaKate and she took a very special interest. Her full time job is working with special needs kids. What a blessing! She adores AnnaKate and has even offered to babysit. It really warms my heart and pleases me that AnnaKate has a safe place to be at church. I hope and pray that you find that for Alex.

Kelly W.

Finding Normal said...

We go on occasion, all 4 of us. We don't leave either kid in a nursery, just all sit out in the narthex together, so Noah can roam and play cars and Addison can blow raspberries, and we can try to get a tiny bit out of mass. It seems a lot of Sunday mornings someone is either sick, getting sick, or just getting well again, so we just stay home. It's been bad lately, and I feel so much better after we go.
I will NEVER forget the looks we used to get. We belong to a really big church. Really big. So we fly mostly under the radar. Or did. Until we started taking Addison with her oxygen tank (back in the day). Shawn and I would leave and cry, trying to figure out why everyone felt the need to stare at us. It's better now, but we still get lots of stares. One would think church would be the one safe place we could go to without the stares. Apparently not.

Michelle said...

I have acutally chose to do the opposite in the same situation. My church family has really become a huge help with Austin. I have taught so many people about accepting kids with different abilities and I really feel that's why God gave me Austin. By fellowshipping with other believers at church, I have made a really good friend who knows Austin almost as good as I do and I feel compfortable leaving him with her for a date night. Fear is a debilitating emotion and I have learned over the years to put that fear aside and let Austin live like a 6 year old should (even if it's impossible!). It's so comforting to watch him learn and not rely on me so much. My mommy guard is up at all times, of course! BTW, Austin loves church with his noises and all. No one has ever said a word to me about it! =) Worship is his favorite. He sways from side to side, smiling. Yes, even the disabled can praise God!

Brandi said...

Yes, we are one of those. We are home from church today because of germs. We just can't risk Bella going to the preschool class and giving germs to Nathan. Better yet, we can't put Nathan in the nursery because of germs. I'm curious what we are going to do when we actually go back at the age of 2. If he's not walking/talking, where will we put him? We have been getting DVD's of service sent to us every week. It's not the same, but at least we are getting the sermon.
I love your perspective Jessica.

angie said...

Interesting topic Jessica, and one that I have thought about so often. We belong to the same church that I have attended since I was 9 years old. I know everyone there, and they were all wonderful through all of Em's medical trials of the first year. However, we were not able to go to church the year that Em was born (waiting for transplant) or the next year because of the germs. Isn't church the place people will always go....even when they are REALLY sick????

After getting out of the habit of has been really really hard to get back into it, and in the meantime our pastor moved and we got a new one. Guess what....HE is the one that has not been accepting of Emma....and it make me FURIOUS!!! We went a few times and he made some really inappropriate comments. We are having a difficult time going back, but we really want to attend church??? So, yes...the Sunday Machine is going on without us also:(.

malette-foreveryoung said...

This is very powerful

I am one of the mother that take my children and stay close by in case one of my boys get out of hand and they need me. My boys have special needs and I never know how things will go or if this weeks teacher will understanding my sons and they needs. I am so glad when it is time to go home.
I always can call my husband who stays home to come and get them
Some Sunday one or two boys will stay home because they are so worked up that they would not be able to sit still.
We take each Sundays they come.
Thank you for sharing

Stephanie said...

Right there with you...

Anonymous said...

There is a woman at the church I've gone to since i was little. she has 8 children, one of whom has special needs. they were quite the site to see back in the day! The rest of her kids are grown up and gone now... but her special needs daughter still goes to church with her every sunday and sits at her side. It's sweet.

tm in oh said...

Jessica, you were a good friend to me when I didn't know anyone and NEEDED someone to take an interest in me. You served a purpose in my life and I am so Thankful! ! for you! You have such a unique perspecive that others don't have the ability to see. You may not have chosen this, but it is yours ~ and I have seen over time how you've grown. As someone who doesn't necessarily know exactly what is needed or even wanted, I do know that we all have the desire to be LOVED! and ACCEPTED! You can find that in church because it is there ~ Someday you will be to someone else what you were to me . . . a friend that embraced me for who I was and accepted me You will be that one that someone needs :~) :~) :~) I LUV YOU! I wish I was closer so I could be one of those that you need. As I'm not, I'll continue to love ya from Ohio and pray for you and your sweet family.

The VW's said...

Sundays are definitely not what they used to be for our family as well! We used to all go to church without a thought, but now we decide: Is Gavin well enough to go with us? Are there too many germs about for him this time of year? When we do take him, we have to get up and rush to get his meds and treatments done in time. So, a lot more stress, but yet I think church means a whole lot more to us now too!

We are blessed with a very caring group of church goers and have never felt out of place with him! I still feel a little weird being the only family with a child who can't do so much. I feel like others are staring at us, etc., but everyone is very supportive and these are just my feelings, not theirs! My husband and I often take turns taking our older boys to church while the other stays home with Gavin, this way most of us can enjoy a time of fellowship and get the much needed uplifting that we get from hearing God's word. It's not ideal, but so is the life that we live. It's not ideal, but it's a full life! Hope you can get back to it one day too! I usually go away from church feeling so much better than I did when I came.

Cindy said...

I pray for every family of special needs kids to find a church that is accepting of their whole family. There is so much love for many of our kids...I pray that all of our kids find the same.

Cathy said...

It is funny, just yesterday I told someone at Mass that I had 6 envelopes in a row I haven't used. That translates into the fact that I haven't been able to bring Annabel to church for 6 wks and basically impossible for me to go. YUCK! I don't put her in nursery becasue don't feel worker is qualified. Also don't like cry room(quiet room) in the church to warm and afraid of too many germs. She is really beginning to jabber and don't want to disrupt congregation. so sometime I just stay home. She does love the music in church and all the people who talk to her. I am glad you are having such good weather and you can take Alex out for a walk.

Carebear said...

Oh man. This post really got to me. I have two perfectly healthy kids, but am currently a single mom (Dad is away at school), so have not been to church in awhile. I do miss the music and those moments when I positively felt the Holy Spirit moving in me. But you remind me of how stressful it is getting there, and you made me realize that I don't think about the families who can't get there for reasons much harder than my excuse. Thank you for this post. I will be thinking of you, and other moms like you, when I miss church again this Sunday...

Luke's Mom said...

Ya, I can totally relate. This last Sunday I was so hoping that Luke would be healthy enough to go to church. Didn't happen, in fact Saturday night was a nightmare, with alarms going off all night long. I had someone ask me that afternoon if "I had played hookey from church" I was so upset that they would ask me that knowing that Luke has been so sick. I am blessed in the fact that the few Sunday's I am able to go Luke can stay with us in the back and I can make a quick get-away with him when he is breathing too loud, gagging, coughing or making noises.

Blessings to you, I pray that God will continue to bless you with His Amazing Strength.

Love in Christ,

Kristen said...

I love this post! I too, am home on Sundays (Our daughter has fetal alchol syndrome and has a compromised immune system) while my husband takes our son to church. We try to alternate every other week. This post made me smile just knowing that someone else is missing the Sunday "machine".

Stephanie said...

oh no! Please move to TN and come to our Church. They have an amazing ministry called King's Table that is TOP NOTCH for special need children.
Maybe pray about approaching leadership about something like this at your Church.
I don't want you to have to stay home on Sundays!!
Thanks for the reminder of the pettiness of our normal complaints.

Alex is SO cute.
Wish you lived closer so he could be loved at our Church!!