Church is often times assumed as a preserve for saints. The truth is that we go to church because we recognize we are sick with sin and in need of a savior.
Early this year, when I finally made the transition from working mom to work at home mum (WAHM) I was the recipient of insensitive remarks that almost sent me packing from church. Moms out there will agree with me that new moms get tons of unsolicited advice. I don’t have a problem with unsolicited opinions when they come from a good place; a caring and concerned place.
New moms deal with a lot! They are almost always exhausted and sleep deprived making them super vulnerable to negative energy. For me, all the unsolicited advice came from church; from other not so new moms. This began when my son found his feet.
My son is exceptionally hyperactive. The doctor warned me long before he was born to prepare for a super active child. As he grew from month to month I sort of began to doubt whether he would really turn out as the doctor had predicted since he was calm and settled. Little did I know, it was just a matter of time before I met this toddler who would be always on the move, literally!
When he was barely 2 years, an elderly woman from church told me to take him to play school to learn how to sit still. I graciously listened to her but silently wondered to myself, “Did I look like I was tired of running after my child? Was play school really the solution or was this a phase that would eventually pass whether he went to play school or not. Say I decided to take him to play school, would the teachers make him calm but maintain his fun personality or would be cowered into a wimp?”
More unsolicited advice
Another time, I was seated next to a lady on a pew; when my son started fidgeting the lady asked me to tell my then caregiver to take him out. Again, I wondered whether taking him out was the solution or showing him at that early age that church was a holy place where he needed to be reverent would be best.
Other women suggested that I should get another child to calm my son. The nerve! Did these women stop to think that perhaps I was not able to conceive again? That we may not have money to bring up another child? Children are expensive, very expensive! A while passed before I was an audience to unsolicited advice. I thought it was all over. Boy was I wrong!
A warning from the church pastor
One evening after the afternoon service my husband came home and told me that he had been summoned by the church pastor. Reason, an elder had gone to the pastor to tell him to tell my husband to keep off our son from the altar. My son had one time slipped through my fingers and sped to the altar. One time! That same church elder had told me that I should spank my son for walking up and down the stairs outside church. Who does that? I wondered whether this elder had children or if he ever was a child.
That was not the end of the callousness. One afternoon when I was walking up and down with my child outside church as I usually did when my son became unsettled, a deacon approached me and said, “Madam, I have noticed that this boy does not listen to you.” I stared blankly at him. He continued, “A doctor from this church has said you should take your child to the hospital to be examined. It seems like he is not OK.” The way he said those words seemed to suggest that my son was not mentally stable. Plus, the events preceding this incidence seemed strange to me. I was exasperated! I wanted to speak back in defense but God held my tongue. Boy, I was boiling inside and the things I would have said might have sent me straight to hell.
A young mom who was accompanied by her toddler noticed I was not OK and walked up to me to find out what the problem could be. I narrated the encounter and she was equally enraged. I told her I was leaving that church for good! She said she would do the same if she were in my shoes but after speaking her mind to the deacon.
Temporary exit from church
For over one a month after that incidence, my son and I remained at home while my husband went alone to church. Ours is a small church; so after a few weeks people noticed that my husband came alone to church and they started wondering aloud about my whereabouts.
A couple friends of ours called me and told me that church was a place that covered a multitude of sins and sinners. They advised me to hasten back to church not to allow the devil time to make me complacent of staying out of church. Further, they told me to forgive that deacon and forget about the incidence. Forgiving was easy, but going back to church became hard. Church had ceased to be that warm, heavenly place that I had always loved to visit.
Some sweet elderly women from church also visited one afternoon and told me that the church was for sick people and not saints. They said there were women in church who actually disliked children because children are messy. I was stunned. They pleaded with me to go back to church for the sake of my son who needed to experience Christ for himself just like I had. Until this time, I always held the view that church goers were supposed to be kind, sensitive, and gracious but I was wrong. The words of Jesus came alive in this experience, “I have come to save the sick and the lost.” Jesus did not come for the kind, gentle and sensitive but for the unkind, rough and callous so that they would be transformed by His love.
Young moms are often overwhelmed. It would mean so much to them if they received support and positive energy. I speak for those moms who have left church for the reasons I have shared here. They are many. I know this because sharing my experience with one of my sisters confirmed this truth. Next time you meet a new mom, please hug her and exude lots of positive vibes.
Should you want to read a related post click here.