Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the penitential season of Lent. I plan on taking Babykins to church tonight. Since we missed last year’s Ash Wednesday service, this will be the first time the ashes will be put on Babykins’ forehead.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ash Wednesday’s namesake, there is an imposition of ashes on congregation members–typically smeared on the forehead in the shape of a cross. The ashes remind us of God’s promise to Adam after the fall into sin, “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” (Genesis 3:19b). Likewise, being covered in ashes is an ancient Christian practice of repentance.
Truth be told, I’m not looking forward to Babykins having the ashes put on her forehead. It’s a terrible reminder that she is a sinner just like me and will someday die.
But it also reminds me that my fervent prayer for her isn’t simply for her physical health and comfort, it’s that God keeps her steadfast in the Christian faith–the faith that Jesus Christ died for those sins and that she is covered in Christ’s sacrificial blood.
In 47 days, I will sing of Christ’s resurrection and victory over eternal death. However, tonight I will mourn of my sin and my daughter’s sin and cry out to God to have mercy on us poor, sinful beings.
If you ever want to spark a debate among pastor’s wives with young children, just mention attending midweek services during Advent and Lent. These services typically start around 7 p.m. You know, right when parents are usually getting their children ready for bed. As hard as it is child-wrangling on Sunday mornings, it’s even harder fighting with exhausted children in the evening.
There are two groups of pastor’s wives when it comes to evening service attendance. First, there are those who diligently go to midweek services, no matter what age their children are. They argue that the only way children will learn to appreciate these midweek services is by taking them. Likewise, they state that it’s difficult for their husbands to ask other members to attend midweek services if his own family isn’t attending.
The other group are those who stay home for the evening services. They argue that the battle in the pew is not worth fighting when the mother will spend most–if not all–of the service quieting an increasingly fussy child. They make attending Sunday morning service the priority and do the best they can the rest of the week. The best they can often doesn’t involve taking their children to church after their bedtime.
Guess which group I fall under? Hint: I started writing this post at 7:30 p.m. on Ash Wednesday.
Yes, I stayed home with Babykins. I initially did try to take her to midweek services. We went to a few Advent services that ended in tears. Christmas Eve service was a disaster involving a completely inconsolable Babykins with no escape plan. I didn’t want to go through that frustrating and humiliating ordeal again. I told my husband I would not be attending Lent services.
However, I did intend to try to attend Ash Wednesday service since it’s one of the bigger services of the year. But this week Babykins finally started going to bed earlier and I didn’t want to ruin our progress (and yes, I really do believe having her out late one night would set back her sleep progress).
Sure, I feel guilty for putting sleep before hearing God’s Word. Of course, I would have also felt guilty if she had a meltdown at church from being overtired. Lose, Lose.
At any rate, she fell asleep at 6:30. Church would have been rough.