“Why do we have to go to church?” my ten-year-old says as she rolls onto her side and pulls the covers over her head. “Why can’t we just stay here, and you know, home-church, kind of like home-schooling?”
I thought I had heard everything, but this took the cake. I had been given a lot of excuses for why we shouldn’t go to church—I’m too tired, it’s boring, we went last week. But this took the cake—home-church.
It occurred to me that like my fear of home-schooling, I am severely unqualified to home-church. Sure, I grew up going to church and have been going most of my adult life except for that brief gray period in my early twenties, but that doesn’t mean I actually know anything.
I tried to come up with reasons that we can’t stay home, that what we are looking for can only be obtained within the walls of a sanctuary with lots of people around us singing hymns and saying prayers together. But my words sound hollow even to my own ears as they flew out of my mouth in a desperate attempt to change my daughter’s mind.
Ultimately, I demand, threaten and plead until she trudges unwillingly to the car still in her pajamas with her church clothes in hand because we are now running so late. Throughout the service she ignores my gaze, and pulls away when I try to put an arm around her shoulder. Every time my knees go down to pray, I ask God for patience. After the service she runs off to Sunday school without a word, skipping the usual coffee hour treat. Instead of going to adult Sunday school I stay at coffee hour and chat with other mothers of ten-year-old girls. They make me feel like we all share the same struggles. All of sudden, I feel less isolated.
When my daughter comes out of Sunday school, she is suddenly different. She skips, arm and arm with a new friend she has recently made, and asks me if they can have a playdate after church. She tells me that they are excited about going to youth group together later that afternoon.
I smile and breathe deeply for the first time all morning. I have found the answer, even if I can’t put it into words that she will understand.
Community is something you can’t find at home.
Amanda Lamb is a WRAL-TV reporter, mother of two and author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood."