MOM: Manager of Mayhem

By Cindy Koch

I am often exhausted after church. I used to think it was because I had so many little children, one after another. I spent years teaching them to sit quietly in church when all they wanted to do was play hide and seek under the pews. I knew the cry room and narthex of every church we attended from the many hours of bouncing and soothing and shushing during sermons. I lost years of listening to the Word proclaimed to me because I was having body and sign language conversations with my 2-year-olds to keep them from distracting others during church. Many a Sunday I would wonder, why do I even go to church? It did not seem like I was getting much out of it.

My children are older now, but I am still exhausted with the many opportunities for distraction floating around my head. Just today I looked over at our teenagers and observed them restlessly squirming without their entertaining stimulation. Constantly worried about the distraction they are offering to others, I continually pray they will just stop and listen to the Words spoken to them. Years ago, I told myself this was a necessary burden given to MOM: Manager of Mayhem. Years ago, I dreamt I would grow out of this stage (as my children grew up) to fully enjoy worship and God’s Word spoken to me there. Today, I think I may have been mistaken.

The one who encourages the mayhem, especially to draw us away from the promises of God, is still at work. Just as much as the Evil One amplified my babies cries in my ears, just as he inflamed my impatience during church, just as he provided a million ways for my children to distract me, his disruptions get me almost every time. Who else will shush the baby if I do not? Who will still the chaos of my pew if I am caught listening? Why even go to church if I am only there fighting to keep my kids from distracting others? Why be there if I am not getting anything out of the Words being spoken? I default to Manager of Mayhem, and Satan laughs as I lose again.

Mom’s work is good and necessary, but Mom desperately needs to hear the Word. Both happening at the same time seems entirely impossible to me and I do not have any good answers. But I did have a friend.

One Sunday shortly after my fourth daughter was born, Mrs. Pam met me at the front door of the church. “Give me that baby,” she said, holding out her hands. Reluctantly, I gave her my baby. Mrs. Pam was no stranger. She had helped me raise my kids for years, but church was one of those places where I felt like I had to take care of my own problems – children being a big issue where toddlers were involved. But for some reason, I let go of my pride and received her help. Together, she helped me quiet a distraction. My friend helped me hear the Word.

As a mom who is still distracted by the mayhem (and probably always will be) I hope and pray God continues to give me friends who will help me hear the Word. Whether it is a reminder of comfort when I am distraught, or a word of warning when I have gone too far, or a glance of approval when I am unsure. We all need others to support us in the fight to hear the Word.