Don’t we look smiley and oh so color coordinated? This picture and what it shows and doesn’t show says so much about my family. It’s Easter morning 2018. We’re color-coordinated and smiling away on a lovely Easter morning outside our church. I even managed to somehow get the boys to wear fedora hats one more time even though they were less than thrilled about it.
Little would you know by looking at our smiles that the McBride Easter morning was full of tears, rushing around, anxiety, and miscommunication. Though the morning at church was lovely and almost everything went smoothly, it was a tough day for the McBrides and probably a lot of you juggling ministry and parenthood during arguably the busiest Sunday of the Christian year.
Those of you in ministry know the chaos that is prepping and producing Holy Week. There’s Palm Sunday, family events, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Vigil Service, Sunrise Service… all the extra hospitality, and egg hunts. Our families see us in a flash between worship services, planning, and prepping. Though we know that it is God’s work that matters, we stress ourselves out trying to welcome people to our churches and create worship experiences that just might woo people back to church more than twice a year.
My husband Ryan told me later that our younger son Matt woke up on Easter morning not asking about the Easter bunny, but if I ever came home the night before. I had come home the night before from our vigil service after the boys went to bed and left again for the sunrise service before they woke up. So, even though I had put out Christ-centered Easter baskets and all the clothes for that morning, and thought I had communicated with my husband about when and where to be, somehow the Pastor of Schools and Families own family missed the church egg hunt and was a frazzled mess entering church.
It all started with a very cute Jesus LEGO that I had been so proud of. I’d managed to keep their Easter baskets focused on Jesus and fun at the same time. Score one for Pastor/Mom! NOPE… Turns out, they were difficult to put together and sent my husband and two boys down a spiral. Two minutes before the egg hunt began, I called Ryan asking where they were. I could tell when he said hello by the echo in the phone that he was still in our house. His tone made it clear that the morning was not going well. We had mixed up the details. The boys were not cooperating. There were lots of tears. And, with one minute to spare, I had to start the egg hunt. I looked around and wanted to cry. All that planning and my own family wouldn’t even be there.
Here they are… the legos that launched a thousand tears… Cute, but costly!
By the time Ryan and the boys got there and we sat down together in the praise service, I wasn’t sure what to say. They were stressed. I was stressed. There wasn’t much I could say to turn the morning around. It wasn’t worth it to be mad and ruin the rest of the morning. As I was worship leading that morning, I got up to welcome everyone hoping that I could keep it together. Once I did my part and the praise music began, I looked at Matty who was completely done. The only thing I could think to do was to pull him on my lap and hug him while everyone sang Easter praise music all around me. Poor kid… ADHD, anxiety, all the stress of being a pastor’s kid, an overscheduled mom… It was too much for Matt. Even our older son Teddy who usually is a little easier to manage had had enough. The boys were fighting. Ryan was done. It wasn’t pretty.
After the service, knowing that at the end of the day all mom wants is a picture, they all headed outside and slapped on smiles so that we could take our yearly Easter pic in the sunshine. As we smiled, all I could think of was how much my family goes through for my call to ministry. It is wonderful work. Most of the time they love what I do and are happy to help out. But, it comes at a cost.
I share this story with all of you in ministry or not just to say, no one has it all together… especially on high stress, busy days. We’re all a bit of a hot mess trying to keep it together and do the best we can for our kids. For all of you people out there who, despite best efforts, missed your easter egg hunt at church and walked into the service late with your families, I feel you. The struggle is real and you’re doing a good job.