For the first time, in my entire life, I left in the middle of a sermon because I was so mad at what the minister had to say. Ironically enough, what I've been kicking around in frustration all day had nothing to do with the Bible or Bible principals or anything to do with Jesus or God. The thing that caused me to stomp out of the auditorium in anger, with a crying eight year old on my heels was Santa Claus. Yes, you read that right, Santa. And, just for the record, I wouldn't have stomped out in anger if the timing had been better or had this sermon taken place in a room full of adults, or if my daughter's heart hadn't just been broken.
This morning we had our baby dedication service so there was no children's church. I've been working with Hadley and encouraging her to listen to what goes on in the auditorium. Today, I wish I hadn't. The part of the sermon that I heard revolved around being honest with our children, which I totally agree on. More than once, I've told my children that I will always tell them the truth, even when it's really hard an uncomfortable, and I do. Sometimes it downright hurts to tell the truth to them, but when they ask, I answer.
So, when the preacher said, "this may bring some uncomfortable questions to some of you but I'm going to tell you anyway" I assumed he was going to talk about being honest about sex. We've been there, done that in this house, so I didn't even blink. Then he says "Santa! When my kids asked us if Santa was real, we said NO, Santa is not real but it sure is fun to believe."
This is where I should mention that his kids are college age and up, mine are ages four and eight, and the auditorium was filled with ages newborn through adults.
Hadley looked at me with big tears in her eyes and said "Why would he say that mommy?" at which point I nearly lost it. Yes, the hormones make me a little crazy but Hadley has had a rough few months and now one of the people we teach her to trust has yanked the rug out from under her with zero regards to whether or not she's prepared. That's when I stomped out of the auditorium, dragging my bawling eight year old behind me.
I'm not mad over Santa, let's be honest, every parent out there knows that there's an expiration on that fairy tale. I'm mad over this man's insensitivity towards my children and lack of consideration for my choices as a parent. I agree 100% that when our children ask us questions we should be honest, but MY CHILD DIDN'T ASK!!! HE made the decision on when she would find out.
What's even more disappointing is that Hadley is at the tender age where she's starting to make memories and things that happen now are the things she'll remember for her lifetime. What's the most upsetting of all is that this will probably be one of her earliest memories of church service. We teach her to trust and respect our minister, we pray for his family and life, and, without thinking, he chooses to make a bold statement that will forever be imprinted on her memory as one of her earliest church experiences.
I was about Hadley's age when I remember my first real church experience and fortunately it was a very positive one. Long story short, our minister taught us to love one another and all of our differences. He taught us that as long as we weren't doing something sinful or hurtful it was perfectly okay to have fun and enjoy our life and we shouldn't judge others for doing the same.
Up until this point, I've appreciated most of what our minister has to say. I've respected his sermons, some have been both thought and conversation provoking, and I've kept a very open mind. I've also been impressed that he's bringing some heavy hitting sermons while still settling in. He's both acclimating to a new congregation and a new area, all while bringing his 'a game' to the congregation. My sweet eight year old has prayed for his family during this time, because she agrees that it's scary.
When Hadley, tearfully, asked why our preacher would stand in front of so many people and lie, God gave us grace with what to say.
We said, "Honey, he's not lying."
"Yes he is, I know Santa is real, how would he leave that note on our Christmas tree if he wasn't real?"
"No honey, Mr. Steve doesn't believe in Santa."
"Well, I believe and he's wrong."
"It's okay if you believe, but we've talked about this before, not everyone believes."
"Well I believe, mommy, Santa is real and Mr. Steve is wrong," with big tears in her eyes
"Sweetie, it's okay for you to believe and it's okay that he doesn't."
--mommy was thinking that Mr. Steve should have kept it to himself but through the grace of God, I kept that to myself.
"Do you believe in Santa, Mommy?" Hadley then asks.
To quote Joy's mom, from many many years ago, I said something that God gently reminded me of,
"I believe that Christmas is a magical time. I believe that there are lots of blessings and lots of things to be thankful for and people tend to notice them more at Christmastime."
"Does that mean you believe or not?" Hadley insists.
"It means exactly what I said it means, sweetie, I love Christmas and all the magic that surrounds it."
"Well, that's fine mommy, but I still believe in Santa."
So, despite the fact that none of this really has anything do with Santa, Hadley is hanging onto the magic of Christmas as tightly as she can. I'm planning on having a discussion with the preacher regarding all of this. I don't know what outcome I'm hoping for, but if I don't get this off my chest, it will eat me alive and I'm praying that this won't jade Hadley's opinion of every minister from here on out.
Until then, HO! HO! HO! and God Bless!