Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. I never found it to be restful. Sunday is usually the day to play catch up – shopping, homework projects, laundry, yardwork, etc. Even though I told my family that I didn’t want to schedule kid activities on Sunday, somehow all three of my kids have things to do. Even with those activities and catch up time, I try to get us to church. We don’t go every week, but I try to make it a couple times a month at least.

I was raised Catholic. We attended the 10:30 mass every week unless my parents had plans. If that was the case, we went to 4:30 mass the night before. You could only miss mass if you were near death. We sat in the same pew every week. My dad always stood on the aisle with his arms crossed like a guard making sure we didn’t bolt before the priest walked down the aisle at the end of mass. We attended confession every month or so until I got married. To me, it was torture. In 8th grade, I made my Confirmation. It was supposed to be “my” decision to become an adult in the church. When I told my parents that I didn’t want to continue in the Catholic Church, they told me I didn’t have a choice. My mom told me I needed to make my Confirmation in order to get married in the church.

Flash forward seven years. I was engaged (to a non-Catholic) and called the church I grew up in to arrange the wedding. I was told that I could not be married in the church where I attended mass every week. It wasn’t because my fiancé wasn’t Catholic (although that was the case for my grandmothers who married non-Catholics). It was because I chose to get married on a Sunday and the church was too busy. That’s it. When I asked if one of the four priests at the church could come out to marry us in the mansion where we were holding the reception, I was told that the Bishop wouldn’t allow it. As a Catholic, you couldn’t just go to the next church down the road. You had to be a member. I asked my mom what I should do. Together we decided that I should do as my Catholic neighbor did. She was marrying an Atheist and he didn’t want to be married in the Catholic Church. She called the Presbyterians and they gladly married them – no questions asked. Thankfully, they did the same for us. Ironically, on the morning of our wedding, my very Catholic grandmother went to mass at the Catholic Church as if God was not going to be at the Presbyterian Church.

We talked about becoming Presbyterians, but my husband was working retail at the time and he worked on Sundays. After that, I only went to church at Christmas and Easter until my daughter was born. We had her baptized Catholic as that was all I knew. The other two kids were also baptized Catholic and the girls made their Holy Communions at the Catholic Church. I tried to get involved in the church in hopes of embracing the religion as an adult. I taught RE (CCD) for 5 years. I volunteered at VBS. I tried to find a place for myself.

The year that my son was supposed to make his communion, I pulled the plug on the church. I knew he would be whatever his future wife wanted him to be. My kids hated going and so did I. I didn’t feel comfortable, but instead always felt guilt. My family and I went down the street to the Lutheran church (often called “Catholic Lite”). The church has a great youth program. My kids enjoy going. I volunteer regularly. We have all made new friends. I never feel guilt. This church does not have crazy rules. They are very laid back.

This past Sunday, I tested that. We had to go to two services this week. My son was being presented with a bible at the 10:15 service and my oldest daughter was helping to serve at the 11:30 service. However, my kids’ activities all ran during that same time this week. My middle daughter and husband had softball practice on Sunday and they missed the first service. My son and oldest daughter went with me to the first service. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that my daughter wore her most “holey” jeans to church. Great! I just made my son change out of his dirty Monster Truck t-shirt before we left. We could only stay 45 minutes before we had to leave for soccer. My son changed into his soccer clothes (that I carried in my purse) and my oldest daughter stayed for the next service. After dropping him at soccer, I returned to the church. Ten minutes into the 11:30 service, my husband dropped off my middle daughter. She arrived in dirty softball cleats. When I shook my head at her, she took them off and wore her socks. Fifteen minutes before the service ended, my middle daughter and I ran back to soccer. After stopping at home to pick up a snack, I flew by the church on two wheels to pick up my oldest daughter and bring her to volunteer at the barn – already an hour late.

By blogging, I put myself out there to be judged, so I expect a few “tsk, tsks”. I am sure there are some of you who would have made the kids go to service regardless of their obligations. There are those of you that would have skipped church altogether because you were too busy. Instead, I chose to fit it all in. I don’t believe God was looking at my family and their choice of outfits and making a judgment. I did not feel any guilt. Guilt is man-made. I believe God was standing at the door like a greeter, watching us come and go. He was smiling and saying, “Thanks for coming today. Thanks for making me a part of your day.”