So last weekend we went away with our church. It’s a weekend with some teaching but also time to just get to know each other and truth be told I wasn’t massively looking forward to it.
We arrived tired and I was nervous about how I would find it, how Faith would get on-she’s been uber clingy of late, and I knew Mike would be in the kitchen the majority of the time.
The first 12 hours confirmed my fears.
Long story short I found myself at 5am crying in a dark corridor downstairs with Faith (also crying) wriggling around in coffee covered sleeping bag after having fallen out of the single bunk bed we had tried to all squeeze in. There were other single beds but I was trying to reassure Faith so she’d go back to sleep…it didn’t work, we all felt a bit squished and she still fell out.
I was lost and so blooming tired that I found myself wondering why had we come. I had hopes that I might form some connections with some people, that I would have deep authentic conversations. But as I stumbled around with the remainder of my cold coffee in one hand, and a slightly soggy but very clingy baby in the other arm trying to find the baby room but only finding the indoor pool, my hopes of any meaningful interaction were dwindling.
Faith and I eventually found our way and put on Toy Story and ate pastries and the world seemed to start to get better. But I felt on an emotional cliff edge.
People kept offering help, but Faith was literally having none of it, I was embarrassed that she was refusing to go with anyone and throwing massive paddies.
The parenting failing just seemed so public and visible.
Eurghhhh…I hate that! I don’t mind people knowing I don’t have my shit together, but when she’s unravelling, and I am too-I would rather not be around other people. I spent the first 5 hours trying not to cry, and just survive.
And then the day improved, it was still a blur of keeping Faith entertained, fed and napped, and getting other stuff done. We were exhausted and no deep conversations were really had, I left the quiz early (and then my team went on to win-I literally aided the win by leaving!)
But looking back these things are what I will remember;
- I felt people had our backs, they were advocates for us, and particularly for Faith. Faith actually stayed in the childrens (under 4s) group for over 2 hours-which is way longer than she ever has done before. A friend, and the group leader, said it was an answer to prayer. I will be honest its not something I had prayed for, but I was beyond moved that someone else had.
- At one point on Saturday evening, Mike and I just sat down on a sofa for 45 mins. We hardly spoke, there was a teaching session going on-but we just sat and in those moments I felt so rested and where usually I would feel guilty for not being in the session, I didn’t. I felt like this was what we needed then.
- The childrens’ session was amazing, so thoughtful and engaging. I was also reminded that a snack can usually sort my daughter out whatever is happening.
- People seeing me have a bit of a emotional meltdown may have been a good thing, and without words brought a solidarity far greater than any deep conversation.
- My understanding of spirituality/faith is not based on a weekend away but sometimes letting one sentence you hear be your meditation. I have been thinking about my spiritual appetite ever since…
- People exhausted themselves to make this weekend away happen and at times I questioned whether there was maybe too much, and we could all just do less. But I also realised that those people had enabled everyone who wanted to, to come and participate. They had spent themselves so those, whatever their age/ability, could access this. They were demonstrating hospitality in its fullness.
- My favourite quote will always be from the child who told his mum that ‘his nipples were tired’ . Love it!!
Church is not always easy, and it is not about getting in with the right ‘crowd’, belonging to each other is about being with each other-wholly present whatever state we are in-and about the giving and the accepting of love whatever state were in.
It looked like a personalised Thomas the tank engine kids water bottle this weekend.