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This post is written by Suzanne Hines.
Most people live for the weekend, celebrating Friday as the last day of the work week. Saturday is for sleeping in and resting, getting caught up on house and yard work, and spending time as a family. Sunday is another day of rest, and for many, it’s the day to go to church.
We all know this isn’t the case for those who work the weekends. Friday is typically the busiest night of the week, Saturday is full of overtime opportunities, and Sunday is often just another day on the job. In the law enforcement field, someone always has to be at work. And that someone is often one of our husbands.
It has always taken me a while to come to terms with the loss of the “typical” weekend. Sure, the days off are nice in the middle of the week and you won’t hear me complaining about having a three day weekend every week. But after three years of my husband working as a first responder and a police officer, I have done my fair share of “actual” weekends without him.
One of the hardest parts of these weekends is getting myself and two kids under two to church.
Honestly, it would be so much easier to just stay home in our pajamas.
I wouldn’t have to worry about getting everyone clean, presentable and dressed. I wouldn’t have to worry about getting out the door on time. I wouldn’t have to worry about lugging two kids and all their stuff into the church building in all kinds of weather conditions. I wouldn’t have to worry about dropping the kids off at nursery, or getting them to settle down throughout the entire service.
I wouldn’t end up crying tears of frustration as I chase down the toddler in the lobby while everyone else seemingly gets to listen to the sermon and sing the songs together.
In the long run, however, I have found it absolutely essential that I still make an effort to attend church regularly on Sundays. If I resolved to only attend church when my husband is off work or available, I would not be attending very frequently. There are so many reasons that this is important, but a few of them are:
Finding my tribe.
As a LEO wife, this tribe is ESSENTIAL. If I didn’t have my church body, I do not know what I would do. In order to find my tribe, I need to show up and be there.
Filling my cup spiritually.
Sure, I don’t always hear much of the sermon and I don’t always get to sit in the service. But even if I only get to sing one song with the body of Christ, I am filling my cup spiritually.
Setting a good example for my children.
I am teaching my children that worshiping with a body of believers is vital. This is true for any Christian, but is especially true for those of us whose husbands’ careers have so many unknowns.
Now, all of those concepts make so much sense and I don’t know many people who would argue with them. The reality, however, is that it’s incredibly challenging to get to church when the husband is working a Sunday. Here are some practical tips that we have found to get ourselves to church on a consistent basis.
5 Ways to Maintain Church Attendance as a Law Enforcement Family
Make it a priority.
I am not the type of person who needs to be at church whenever the doors are open. I know my limits and I don’t force myself to attend evening services, AWANA, and every ministry opportunity available (although those are all great things!).
However, when we are healthy and not traveling, attending our regular weekly service is a non-negotiable for me and the children.
Get ready the night before.
The night before church, I usually bathe the children, lay out their Sunday clothes, prepare breakfast, and pack the diaper bag. In the morning it makes it so much easier to just grab everything and go.
Set fairly low expectations.
I always need to remind myself that I am most likely not going to be able to sit through an entire service (this is often true even my husband is there with me!) . I have cried many tears of frustration before and after church that it seems like I am not getting ANYTHING out of it.
I need to remind myself that just being there is the right first step, and I need to be patient with the process.
Ask someone to help.
It’s always humbling to ask for help, but I have found that if I ask someone in my church family who does not have little ones to help me, they are more than eager to hold the baby while I chase the toddler or vice versa. I have often had to ask for someone to help me carry the children into the building or back out to the car.
Report back to the husband.
Working weekends is hard on everyone. It’s hard for me to go to church by myself with the kids, but it’s also hard for my husband to miss church. One of our biggest frustrations in this job is that we can’t show up for everything, because most things are scheduled around a regular 9-5 schedule! I try to pay special attention to announcements and updates on people so I can share with my husband when he gets off shift. I also try my best to take some sermon notes or make note of the Bible passage that was read so I can recap it for him.
I know firsthand how incredibly difficult it is to make church a priority when weekends don’t look like weekends. I know it’s so hard to make it to church without the help of our husbands. However, it is VITAL to our spiritual walks, our marriages, our parenting and the job that our husbands are working.
Even if we only get 10 minutes out of the service, we need to make those 10 minutes a weekly priority.
How about you? Do you have any tried and true tips for making church a priority as a law enforcement family?