Joy.My heart swelled with happiness the Easter our twins were nearing age two. The gratitude in my heart was overflowing as I remembered the overwhelming changes our family had survived over the last two years. We had grown from three children to five with the addition of the twins. We had moved from an international culture in suburban California to a northern Wisconsin farming community and were adjusting. We had purchased our first home. There was so much to celebrate as we prepared to worship our risen Lord. What a glorious morning it would be!
Perfection. Every child had a new item of clothing for this service. The older girls had new dresses and our eldest sported new pants and a tie. I had broken out the sewing machine for the first time since the move and made the twins matching pinstriped sailor outfits, hers a dress and his with shorts and shirt. Tears of thankfulness stung my eyes as I surveyed my shining brood.
Normally we positioned our family in the back pews as any discrete family with active babies would do. This particular Sunday was different. I was happy and I was proud of my wonderful family. We marched right down to the front pew in church, scooted hither and yon to accommodate where everyone would sit, and settled in.
Expectation. All went well during the opening hymn and liturgy. The babies quietly moved amongst the five of us, in usual fashion, wanting to be held by dad, then sisters, then brother, and back to me. My normal vigilance relaxed as the sermon began. Had we passed the threshold of taking one or the other twin out of church at least three or four times each service? I began to be hopeful. They were all being model children. I just knew this was the turning point.
Within a moment of my musings, the pastor made the main point of his sermon. He asked for a call to action from the congregation with a loud question. Making use of the silence, the pregnant pause, he waited. The congregation held their collective breath as they searched their souls for a proper rhetorical response. The packed church was completely silent in expectation.
Broken. As if on cue, the response came. It was loud and clear from the front row, our front row. Imagine the loudest and longest and juiciest-sounding release of flatulence human ears have ever heard. It reverberated forward, then upward, then off the rafters to the back of the church and boomeranged around back to our pew. There was no doubt as to the origin of the sound. With a perfect sense of timing, one of the twins (remaining nameless) had single-handedly made a statement and sullied the pastor’s oratorical moment.
With the innocent indiscretion committed, my idyllic family image came tumbling down and me with it. First I saw the unbelieving sidelong glances looking for confirmation that the others had heard the same explosion. Stifled gasps erupted behind us. Our own pew shook with giggling and movement. We were dealing with the moment in the only way we knew – we laughed! As I recall, whatever remained of the sermon was lost as the front row motion went through the rest of the church.
Forgiven. The sermon ended quickly. Our pastor, a good friend, wisely refrained from eye contact of any kind until much later in the day. Being a forgiving person, he mollified my utter mortification over the event. Of course, it was out of my control, we reasoned. But, still. Really? On Easter Sunday? Why us, Lord? Would any one ever forget the disrespectful interruption we had caused?
So much for our perfect morning! My perspective on expectations for my family changed immensely that day. In hind site, the humorous event was just what we needed to lighten up the day. When thinking through the whole incident, I realize that what I really wanted was children who loved the Lord, us and each other. To this day, those desires have not changed, and my family has not disappointed. Not only that, we still giggle as we recall this Easter morning at family gatherings!
As the mom, I am so thankful that we don't have to be perfect to receive God's favor.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
How about you? Have your expectations been shattered? What lesson has it taught you? How is your family better for the incident?