“Can I sleep over at my friend’s house tonight?” With a deep sigh, I tried to patiently respond to my 13 year old’s question with love despite my significant irritation at the repetitive question. “You know how I feel about Saturday night sleepovers.”
Time after time, tracking the kids down on Sunday morning has caused us to be late to church. I strongly dislike being late anywhere. Normally, I’m the person that shows up early for meeting, events, and other commitments. Therefore, being late to church is almost unforgivable in my mind. The problem is that most of the time we do run late on Sunday mornings. With six kids, preparations begin early. There simply isn’t enough time to drive around town collecting children from various locations. Out of desperation, we established the rather unpopular rule that Saturday night sleepovers are no longer allowed.
Unfortunately, the kids have not accepted this directive without a fight. Each week, they attempt a new angle in an effort to overturn the policy. I held my breath as I waited for the typical argument and offered a quick prayer for patience.
“But they go to our church now. I can meet you there.” I blinked. They go to our church? My daughter smiled. She knew she had me.
Molly (not her real name) is my daughter’s best friend. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mom. That situation has contributed to the bond the girls have formed as they both try to navigate the world of living with one parent and visiting the other.
Several months ago, my daughter approached me and asked if she could attend a small group for Junior High girls that the church was starting. Of course, I happily agreed and commended her for wanting to be part of it. Then, she tossed in the catch. She wanted to know if I could pick up Molly and take her as well.
While I happily accepted the responsibility for transporting my daughter, picking up her friend and dropping her back off afterwards did not hold as much appeal. Desperately I asked, “Can’t her mom take her?” With six kids, our transportation commitments already exceed reasonable efforts. “They don’t go to church and her mom doesn’t understand why she wants to join our small group.”
Ouch. Well, what’s a good Christian mommy to do? “Yes, I can take her.” I received a quick hug for my efforts and my daughter excitedly bounded up the stairs dialing her friend as she climbed.
The next week, we started our new routine. I picked up Molly, drove to the church, dropped the girls off, took care of other commitments, returned to the church to pick them up, waited impatiently for their small group to finish (it always runs late), and dropped her back off at her mom’s apartment.
It didn’t take long before I discovered the unexpected benefits of this arrangement. First, by bringing a book or my laptop with me and leaving the other kids at home, I captured some much needed quiet time while I waited for the girls. Second, I realized that small group opened them up to conversations during our ride home that allowed me to share my beliefs in God and my opinions on other various social issues they faced as teenagers.
Several weeks later, Molly’s mom approached the car as I dropped her off. In broken, heavily accented English, her mother suggested that she could take them to small group each week. I tried to conceal my shock as I agreed to the carpooling arrangement. I asked if she knew where the church was located and she nodded.
That night, I decided to add Molly and both of her parents to my prayers. I realized agreeing to drive the girls to the church didn’t mean she would start attending church as well, but it was a start. I prayed each time she drove up there, the trip would become easier and maybe, just maybe, she might decide to take a step inside.
As I found myself agreeing to my daughter’s request for a Saturday sleepover, I thanked God for using my daughter’s devotion and conviction to follow Christ as a testimony to not only her friend, but her friend’s family as well.I have no greater joy then to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4 (NIV)
You have circled this mountain long enough; now turn north. Deuteronomy 2:3 (NASB)