I had deeply humbling experience at church Sunday morning.

The family and I decided to visit the local Assembly of God church in Fort Meyers.  The Baby and The Oldest girls were especially excited to attend as they hoped to see Dan & Louie of the Dan & Louie Bible Stories CDs they so enjoy.

The Baby got the complete set of Dan & Louie stories for Christmas from her Mamma S, and she had remembered that the church that produced them was in Fort Meyers.

I sensed that the building was large when we drove up, but dismissed it from my attention when The Husband pulled up into a “First Time Visitor Parking” space.

As we entered the church, I asked the greeter what services they had available for children, and he offered to escort us to the children’s registration desk.

That sounded as benign as vanilla pudding, so I agreed to follow him.

Along the trek, I began to notice the scope of the building after we had passed a cafe, Christian bookstore, and several information desks and kiosk booths.

Apprehension began its prowl when the greeter indicated that the children were served in another building.

The kids’ space we entered was banked by a wall of computers where parents registered their children.

The Husband and I approached the Help Desk to get information about how to sign up the girls.

The volunteer was pleasant enough. He dutifully explained the process of how we could sync a beeper to the children in case we needed to be contacted during the service in regard to their needs.

Though helpful, he did not engage us with us personally, smile or offer a reassuring look.

I began to feel my chest tighten as I realized that I did not feel able to put my kids into this program like logs-floating-down-river-for-transport- assembly-line.

So I signaled to The Husband that I didn’t want to leave them, and maybe I should stay with them in kids’ church, and that he and The Boy should go hear the message in the sanctuary.

I headed around the corner with the girls into a space almost as large as the sanctuary of our church at home. The walls were painted royal blue and red. The room was filled with bleacher-style seating like a stadium.

All around us people milled about in activity. Groups of children without adults were playing in stations on gaming equipment, with play dough cups and a tag game. Youths with microphones attached to their heads talked to each other in preparation for the lesson or Worship.

No one looked at us or greeted us.

I realized my temperature had risen and that I was over heated and uncomfortable, and decided to go find The Husband and The Boy in the sanctuary.

We made toward the door as a kind man held it open for us when my lips began to tremble.

In an instant, I  felt enveloped in a compressed sleeve of fear.

The fear constricted my chest and I could not breathe.

There was enough pain that I wondered if it was my heart.

The oxygen starvation inspired desperation.

I hazarded a step or two out of the doorway and faced the wall for privacy.

My only focus was to catch my breath so I could escape, and get us out of there, but I couldn’t find my center.

It seemed like I stood with my face pressed into the corner of that wall for 40 years.

Eventually, the siege passed.

My chest opened up, and I could wipe my face and tend to my girls.

We left to find The Husband and The Boy.

I took his sunglasses off his face and shifted gears.

More than any other thing, I wanted to get in our car and drive away.

I was embarrassed, and tired and felt so far away from my Savior.

However, I didn’t want my girls to associate my response to the church, or to think there was something wrong with their program.

The husband plugged the girls into kids’ church while The Boy and I found seats in the sanctuary.

We stayed for the message, ironically about courage, encouragement and discouragement.

I opened my heart to Praise and tried to press the rest away.

My home church never seemed so precious or far away.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!