My girls love our church and the girls ministries activities they participate in mid-week. I'm so thankful that they have other strong women in their lives to encourage and build them up spiritually and fill in the gaps that I'm no-doubt leaving, despite my efforts.
Witnessing their childlike faith builds my own. Most of the time, their first response to negative things like illness, stress, or fear is to pray. I remember once Chloe was complaining of a sore throat. As I started digging through the medicine closet, she scolded me: "Mommy! I said I'm sick! Why haven't you prayed for me yet?!"
Of course, they also pray for things like American Girl Dolls and for their sisters' character reformation ("Dear Jesus, please make my sisters stop being so bossy").
This Wednesday, I received some disappointing news that sunk my mood for the day. Bronte, by far my most sensitive child, started following me around asking me what was wrong, seeming worried and frankly, making a bigger deal of it than was necessary.
It dawned on me that we were going to church that night. I stopped what I was doing and turned to her, offering her less of an explanation than a word of warning.
"Bronte, I'm fine, ok? I am just not in a good mood. No big deal and, not to say this was your plan, but please don't go to your class tonight and put up a prayer request about your grouchy, stressed-out, mean mother."
It sounded really crappy and I quickly tried to backpedal hoping I didn't just create a new prayer request revolving around deep psychic wounds inflicted by said grouchy, stressed-out, mean mother: "I mean...I'm sorry. I will cheer up and you can have whatever prayer request you want, of course."
Too late. Now she was in a bad mood (And no wonder. I suck). "I wasn't even going to do that, Mom."
She sighed and stomped off. I sighed and stomped off after her, apologizing again, and feigning a cheery voice to prove all was well while offering her some Halloween candy.
Cut to nine hours later as we were driving home from church. I asked each one of them how their class was and they asked me how the youth service went. Everyone seemed to have a great night and the girls mentioned that they had put in requests ranging from prayers for our dear friends who lost their home in a fire this week to safe travels as we head out on our vacation.
Then, it happened.
And by "it" I mean the retribution I'd earned for potentially quashing one of Bronte's prayer requests in the interest of my own pride and not wanting her teachers (my friends) to know that I can be a jerk.
The five year old chimed in from the backseat.
"Mommy, I prayed for you tonight in my class."
Oh boy. Lord, here's a prayer request: Please don't let this be about what a grouch I was today.
"What did you pray for me about?" I asked, trying not to dread the answer.
"I prayed for the bumps on your face."
Now, I wish I had beautiful skin, but I don't. I'm 42 years old with skin that looks like the before picture on a Proactive commercial.
"Oh. My. Gosh. CARYS!!!" This was not going to be good (although, hey, prayer answered: It wasn't about what a jerk I can be!).
"It's okay, Mommy. I just told my class that you have bumps on your face and that I told you that I think it is because you must not take enough showers."
I screamed. Bronte and Chloe screamed (I had enough presence of mind, however, to realize their screams meant they are aware they shouldn't embarrass their mother during prayer request time). My mother-in-law, who was also in the car, screamed with laughter.
I started sorting through a mental list of churches I could switch to.
Carys started crying. Over all commotion she bawled, "I told them that I was wrong and that that wasn't the reason!" (But not that I do actually shower daily, I noted).
I quieted everyone down and reassured my baby. "That's okay, sweetie. Thank you for praying for me! That was so nice and thoughtful of you!"
The last thing I want to do is hinder my children's prayer life. If that means that other moms hear about my bad mood and bad skin, so be it. I suppose there is something to be said for discretion, but how to teach them that without them feeling like they can't speak what's on their heart or that they have to cover up for my shortcomings?
Until I figure that one out, I've decided to be willing to be humiliated. It's a small price to pay for children whose first response is to pray!