Their clergy parents love to write about them, don’t they?! I needed to submit an article for our church newsletter – quickly – so I took our Friday night football experience and crafted the essay. Too trite? Or maybe okay?
Through Another’s Eyes
By Preacher Mom
I went on a real adventure last Friday night. I ventured out to the Landrum High School football game with Gus and Mia in tow. Maybe that sounds pretty routine and not adventurous at all, but let me hand over my two curious, imaginative, extremely fast three-year-olds and maybe you will change your mind. A dear friend of mine accompanied us, providing an extra set of eyes and hands. She loves the kids, has more patience in her big toe than I do altogether, and has a parking pass at the back gate of the stadium so we didn’t have to walk through traffic. It was great! The kids were perfect. Seriously! We sat with another mom who helped me box out a “safe” play area in the bleachers and all was well
What was really fun was seeing the Friday night football world through the eyes of the children. When I go to a football game, I watch the action on the field, the band, the cheerleaders, and keep an eye out for Anna’s general whereabouts. This is where my attention is focused. I thought I was pretty observant. I was wrong.
Gus and Mia saw far more things than I did. They saw the moths flying around the stadium lights, the way the clouds scooted across the sky, other children in the bleachers, and not necessarily the players on the field, but the hopeful 2nd or 3rd stringers warming up on the sidelines. They noticed not one, but two John Deere Gators parked on the track (just like the one back home on the farm!) and wondered if maybe we could take a quick ride around the field. They noticed the discarded candy wrappers, which I soon learned to notice myself since I didn’t want them eating any ‘leftover’ candy! They saw every vehicle parked at the back gate that had lights mounted on top. They noticed every uniformed individual, from band members, to ROTC cadets, to policemen, to paramedics, to the players and referees on the field. They saw the drum major high on a podium directing the band as well as the tiny little gap under the bleacher seat, just the right size to park the matchbox cars I had brought along for their entertainment.
To think of all I would have missed if I had not brought them along for the adventure!
Yes, it took a lot of energy to keep up with them. Yes, I missed out on some of the things I intended to see while they were busy pointing out their discoveries to me and asking one of their millions of questions. No, I didn’t get to circulate around the bleachers visiting friends the way I used to a couple of years ago. But that’s okay, because I saw and experienced more through their eyes than I ever would have seen on my own.
Sometimes we need to take the time to see the world through the eyes of another person. We become so focused on what we think should be happening around us that we fail to see what is really happening. We may think we are observant, but in fact we are numbed by our own expectations of the world. We miss out on so much!
Take worship, for instance. Presbyterians are known as always being decent and in order, so most of us could participate in Sunday worship in our sleep. (That’s just a manner of speaking, mind you – let’s not try it!) We know pretty much what to expect every Sunday, just as I know pretty much what to expect at a high school football game. But what are we missing?
Do you mean the words of praise you say in our Call to Worship? Do you pay attention to the words you sing, or is your mind set in neutral? Did some word of the Prayer of Confession convict you of a previously unconfessed sin? Do you hear the Spirit rustling in the notes of special music? Can you hear the Living Word speaking as scripture is read? And what about those moments of silence in worship? Can you hear God whispering to you? Or are you blinded by your own expectations?
As a pastor, I experience worship differently on Sundays when we have first time visitors. Since I do not know if visitors are familiar with our form of worship, I am aware of trying to make the service visitor-friendly. Since I don’t know if they have a background in the reformed tradition (or any tradition, for that matter), I hear the words of the liturgy and sermon in a completely different way. I wonder how the silences sound to them. I wonder how the music sounds to them. Visitors shake me from my preconceived expectations and point out to me all kinds of details I might otherwise miss. Their presence makes worship even more meaningful for me because I experience it through their eyes.
I encourage you to do the same. Whether there are visitors on any given Sunday or not, shake yourself loose from your preconceived expectations of worship. Look for the details. Look and listen for the unexpected. Yes, it may take a little more energy on your part. Yes, you may get distracted from what you were originally expecting. No, you may not do things the way you have always done them. But I promise you, it will be an adventure you may never forget.