It seems impossible your mad-o-meter can go from zenzero to wristlock in thirty seconds. In church. But they we were.

It started out flowers and fresh air. We had walked there. Everyone including the Conserve Water While Showering Zealot knew better than to suggest driving on a beautiful September morning. Conservation talk cuts both ways. I hadn’t even actively discouraged the scooter. Aside from my skinny-in-the-wrong-place jeans constricting round my legs like a permanent calf raise on dumbbell shoes, it had been a pleasant approach to the pew.

Truth be told, we don’t actually have pews. We have red chairs.

We were even on time. Granted the service starts at 11:45am but getting a teenager, middle schooler, and a child with a lot of questions to church after Daddy’s been gone for 7 days and after an evening of wine tasting is something I think God notices.

The service starts with singing, my favorite part.

Within five minutes, two of my children had left their red chairs – past me on the end - in search of water. Within seven minutes, one of the water-bound children also wanted a sip of my tea, animating to everyone sitting behind us that it was too hot. Between minutes seven and eight, there was a minor sibling altercation that always looks MAJOR to a Mother mid-hymn followed by a much too vigorous refusal to switch seats because “he wanted to see what his brother was writing.” Who’s writing while we are supposed to be singing anyway?????

At minute eight my eyes were closed in worship. At minute eight thirty, we were in wristlock and making our way to the back for a conversation. Unfortunately the offering was being passed at the exact moment of exit but these things happen seem to happen without much warning when you cede control to people who have chosen to sit in the almost front row.

It’s probably worth noting that the “everyone sitting behind us” may have included a school teacher I have a tiny problem with for sending students- mine included -out of the class for what I can only conclude is misbehavior, asking a question or breathing too deeply.

It occurred to me somewhere between the “You can never sit next to your brother in church again” edict and the rope I was now trespassing to sit in the last row of red chairs that maybe I was overreacting a tiny bit. That perhaps my big movement to the back in wristlock was more noticeable than whatever altercation preceded it. That maybe I wanted my children to behave just a little more than I wanted to worship. That maybe I cared even more with an audience, especially when the audience includes people you have a tiny problem with.

Once safely in the last row, the mad-o-meter continued to register for a bit. I even tried to make eye contact with the almost front row who was carrying on writing until I realized – all too vigorous sign language confusion a clue- that maybe it was time to let it go. That maybe I should carry on letting God meet me in my red chair and my too tight jeans and ask for a change of attitude.

I know he listens when we ask him for that. I know that because instead of bolting out the door at the end of the service which would have been to plan, I stopped to introduce myself to a family I hadn’t seen before. They were in fact new to Luxembourg and new to the church. I got to be their welcome. Me, the one with tiny attitude issues, who had just been welcomed back herself.