We have a six-year old daughter. Years before she arrived I planned for her. I gave a lot of thought to the kind of childhood I wanted to offer her. Made life changes myself so we could provide her a good life. Church life made the top of every planning list. I had Allie in January. In Michigan. Surprisingly, it didn’t snow the evening we drove to the hospital. It rained. A terrible thunderstorm. The snow came a few days later, when we got her home safe and sound. And then found ourselves snowed in for weeks.
But sometime close to when she was one month old, we bundled her up and took her to church for the first time. We have moments when life events are just too much. This was one of them for me. My first time sharing my faith with my daughter. She slept through the whole service (I prefer to think she had assumed an ongoing attitude of prayer) and we kept her with us in adult church. Many new things caught my attention as I approached the service through the eyes of motherhood. We would obviously have to sit near the back should Allie wake up all of a sudden and scream bloody murder. Babies are best seen and not heard, right? Our contemporary praise and worship music, had it always been that loud or did they crank it up the week I brought my baby? Do they make itty-bitty earplugs? No one would really try to touch her, right?
Then, every church-going mom faces the dilemma of when to take your fragile blessing to the church nursery. I, naturally, held strong opinions about this. I had planned the moment for years, remember? I would take Allie to nursery very early. I trusted the children’s department and knew the workers would love on her well. And I also banked on the fact that if I took her to nursery early and never made a big deal of it, she’d not be a crying, leg clinger (By sheer luck, this turned out be entirely true except for a brief period at about eighteen months). I laugh now at the things I thought I could control!
When she was four months old, I dolled her up (telling my husband the prettiest babies get the best attention) and took her to nursery. Then, somehow, I dropped her off in her car seat and walked myself into the sanctuary. I clung to the numbered tag they had given me, identifying us as her parents. The whole service, I kept one eye on the screen that tells parents when their child needs attention. Our number never showed up. My budding theologian made it through her entire first Sunday!
Since that day, we’ve taken Allie to class thousands of times. She’s had wonderful teachers and made great friends. We are giving her the church life I want for her. I hope it always goes this way. We do what we can. We count on others at our church to help. I am thankful for Amy who makes sure teachers are in place, the kids are safe and they learn straight from the Bible. I appreciate those teachers - Rebecca, Melissa, Scott, Dana, Marley - who I bet she remembers fondly someday. These people have played key roles in my young daughter’s life. So many others impact her too though. I hope they know the Kingdom work they do. Our greeters who always meet her with a smile. Mark, who always offers to buy her a pony (forget about it, mister). Margaret, who makes her feel special and shares her dog with us. Catherine, who lets her join her family during singing.
Church goes through changes, as everything does. It seems different from what I experienced as a child in some ways. In other ways though, it remains very much the same. Still the bride of Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. I try hard to show my daughter its value. I also thank those who serve us. In big and small ways. I close today’s post with a note I gave to one of our greeters one Sunday morning:
To you, it seems a simple greeting to one a quarter your size.
But do you know how proud she is to show you her dress each Sunday?
Do you see her eyes light up and the big wave as she recognizes a friendly face?
And for this Mama, I think big thoughts.
You, kind sir, teach my little girl that church will always meet her with open arms.
Through your generosity, may she always know the light of her Savior can be found among a body of believers in communities worldwide.
So thank you for this simple act, seemingly as small as she is...
However, I know for certain, God uses your service for things eternal.