90% of the time, I do Sunday all on my own. Dan is usually out the door before we need to leave the house. And, on the average Sunday, he has meetings until well after the little boys are in dreamland. So, that leaves me to have lunch on my own with them. Sometimes we come home but most of the time, we go out somewhere together.
Several years ago, when Micah was still an infant, I wasn't as brave to do lunch alone. He was more than ready for a nap after a morning in the church nursery. Jonah was still so young and didn't sit still very well. But, we didn't have anything at home so I went to a local Mexican place near Orange City. I (literally) wrangled both boys as we ate. Drinks were spilled. Salsa was knocked off the table. Micah cried. Jonah had to potty. I had to leave our table and take both of them to the bathroom. I came back and they had taken half of our food away even though we weren't done eating. It was a mess. I WAS A MESS!
Over the course of the meal, we had talked about Dan a few times. Jonah said he missed Daddy. I told him that I missed Daddy more than he did. (Which was the straight up truth!) The tables all around me were full of church people. Most were obviously from one particular church because some of them had on Polo's with their church name. I noticed some of them talking about us as they glanced our way. I felt super uncomfortable. But, I also noticed there were smiles and nods toward me. I assumed they knew Dan from local church things.
We finally finished our meal long after the rest of them had cleared out. Our table had settled down a bit and I was able to talk to Jonah about his Sunday School class and what he learned that day in church. I asked the waitress for our check and she brought me a note instead. Written on the back of a bulletin from that local church was a note that said something like "Dear Single Mom or Mom who goes to church Alone, What you do matters. You are making an effort to have those boys in church. We know it is hard. But, we also know it is worth it. You are brave. You even made it through lunch on your own. You are a hero to us and to them! Enjoy this lunch on us. You deserve it!"
I was initially mortified! The prideful part of me wanted to run out and find which one of those people standing around their cars had paid for my meal. I wanted to tell them that I wasn't a single mom or a mom who attends church alone. I wanted to tell them that my husband was the Pastor of a local church and was at a meeting. I wanted to make sure they knew that he was at church too. And, honestly, I probably would have run out there except I was too tired to run. (See paragraph about how exhausting that meal was!!!)
I couldn't wait to get home to tell Dan about it. We laughed about it that day and have laughed more about it since then. When I described to Dan the person that I was sure left me the note, (because I saw a man scribbling away at a table a few minutes earlier) he immediately knew him as one of his pastor friends. (Which, in turn, makes the whole story a little bit funnier!!!)
Fast forward to today! Dan has meetings all day today. He usually has one Sunday a month that there are no meetings and he does lunch with us. But, today was a meeting day. Like most Sundays, we went to Chili's. That is our go to place. The boys love it. We usually see tons of church members. Micah gets free milk refills. It's our place.
I always try to use times when we are separated from Dan to talk to the boys about how hard he works for our family or about how what he does is really important to help other people. So, I know the table next to us heard us mention Dan or Daddy quite a few times. And, if you look close, I am wearing a wedding ring. So, it was obvious that the male was missing from our table. At one point during the meal, we were discussing daddy. About then, Micah dips his chicken in ketchup as his elbow lands in BBQ sauce. As I go to wipe his elbow, he leans forward and knocks his milk to the ground. We now have milk, BBQ sauce and ketchup everywhere! All the while, the table next to me never took their eyes off of us. Except, this time, there were no smiles or nods. There was no solidarity. There were only glares.
When the stress of lunch was at it's peak, I declared it was time to go. Micah didn't want to go because that meant nap time for him. There were immediate tears. It was beautiful. I paid the bill on our Ziosk. Then, as I am gathering my things, the nice suited church man at the table next to me tugged on my purse and as I looked at him, he said "their daddy should be in church with those boys!
I smiled and kept getting our things without fully realizing what he said. Then, I looked at him and said "Sir?" He said "You shouldn't be doing this alone!" I quietly and quickly said that my husband did go to church and was still there at a meeting. He laughed and gave me an approving thumbs up!
I got to my car and I was furious! I immediately tweeted about it wished I had way more than 140 characters to say what I wanted to him. I also wish I didn't have my sweet boys with me so I could go back in and (nicely) say some things to him. (And, secretly, I wish I had a backbone because I would NEVER have the courage to say out loud the things I say in my mind! I'm very brave inside my own head!) But, I do have a blog and that is way more than 140 characters!!! So, here goes...
Christians...LET GO OF THE JUDGEMENT!!!!
If my husband were at home (instead of all day at the church) today, what that man said to me would have done ZERO to get him into a church pew. But, that man from a few years ago would have spoken volumes to him. LOVE...don't judge! Be a positive witness...not a negative church member!
How can you do this? Hold a door for a lady battling her kids alone. Buy a meal for a single parent taking their kids out for lunch. Send an encouraging note to a family whose kids are having total meltdowns at the table because it took a lot of effort to even leave the house that morning. Better yet, invite them to your table and engage them in conversation. Don't just glare at them. When their kid spills their milk, beat them to the floor to wipe it up.
That's what Jesus would do. I'm sure of it!!