Ain’t that good news? Ain’t that good news.
I received it as good news. I still had it together. This community was holding me together. The choir’s words washed over me, a tired mother covered in my ministerial robe as if that could hold me together. And yet here I was, I was making it. Ain’t that good news.
It had been a Sunday morning gone wrong. Driving to church that morning, the kicks and the screams were the climax of it all. Every battle had to be fought because Drew was rounding at work and we had a morning deadline to be at church. Sunday battles are no joke as a mother-minister-married-to-medicine. Every battle my oldest lost. He lost his breakfast at home. He lost his ability to get a mint from my office (his favorite). He lost the orange juice that spilled out of the poorly-designed water bottle (which later meant younger brother’s shirt lost as well, discovered moments before walking). He lost his ability to keep moving forward without going back to fix the past, as I was unable to agree to his request to “go home and get another water bottle.” Grace upon grace, I drove with a straight face and focused all my energy on not letting the kicks and screams cause me to do the same.
Once in the office, breakfast is consumed at the volunteer desk. I set down the diaper bag and pull out the basket of toys for the youngest. I attempt to shed the frustration from the morning and get out the bulletin and Bible. After everything is gathered and little winter coats hung up on the robe rack behind my office door, I head out to pass my children on to the village to carry. Youngest is dropped off without too much difficulty and then the oldest, despite much trepidation after an awful morning, agrees to let me leave him with his teacher. Grace upon grace, I make it to our short “huddle” over the piano before 8:30 worship begins.
In the pew during the sermon, I continue praying for calm despite it all. I attempt to pull it together and get my game face on. While the village carries my children for these hours, I must carry other’s children in Bible study and God’s children in worship. Once out of the first service, word that the oldest is fine relieves me. Then word that the youngest feels warm and is not acting like himself troubles me. I keep going about my job, while attempting to carry the tension of mother and minister without it breaking me in two.
Grace upon grace, it happens. Teaching the book of Esther to a bunch of 6th and 7th graders restores me in a way that reminds me of my calling and is surprisingly healing. I participate with the congregation in a baby dedication in 11:00 worship where we commit our willingness to this little girl and her family to be that village to carry her and her parents, even on the rough mornings when holding it together seems impossible. I give thanks for this village that is carrying my four year old on mornings when bad decisions happen, my twenty-one-month-old whose diapers are examined and reported amongst the nursery workers, and even me when holding it together seems like an Olympic feat. I give thanks for villages that don’t demand perfection but rather just obedience in showing up.
“Bonhoeffer explains that all communities are life-communities, meaning that communities are constituted in concrete, lived acts of belonging, and this belonging happens through participation, through shared life. We enter a community by entering its life…Bonhoeffer shows thus that even young children are taken into the center of communities, not through rational consent but through person acting with and for the child’s person…
Ministry is not only the running of games, crafts, and hand-motion songs but more so the embracing of the deepest fears, hopes, and questions of the young mother and father, for they, with their child, are a collective person. And these collective persons experience Jesus Christ as they are drawn into the life-community of the church.” – Andrew Root
Grace upon grace, I am reminded that I am not alone. Driving the car with the kicks and screams may be real but it is not my true reality nor my true identity as a mother. This community life where we carry one another is my reality and my true identity. Especially on the messy mornings, grace upon grace, ain’t that good news.