Last Sunday morning, Jason got up to read scripture during worship and Half Pint lost it. Our little daddy’s girl just couldn’t handle being physically separated from him for two whole minutes. Pickle Pants was sitting quietly next to me. Man Cub was lying swaddled in my arms. I could take HP and MC out, but what would PP do? Take all three out?? I was paralyzed with indecision, so we just sat there with Half Pint wailing, “Daddeeeee daddeeee!” while I tried in vain to muffle her cries with my hand. In those brief but quite embarrassing moments, my Right Guard went left.
Did I mention we sit on the third row in an auditorium that is almost as big as a football stadium?
And it’s not just the church service that is exhausting…I feel like a Doomsday prepper as I pack the diaper bag and the girls’ busy bags on Sunday morning. Every contingency must be foreseen and adequately planned for. Bible, check. Moses sticker book, check. Goldfish, check. Quarter for the collection plate, check. A billion baby wipes, check. Dramamine, check (just kidding). Then there’s breakfast to serve, outfits to coordinate, hair to style, etc. etc. I feel like I need a nap before we even arrive! It’s so easy to grow weary and question the sanity in dragging your young family to church for every service.
I bought seven week old Man Cub some shoes last weekend. They were too cute to pass up and they will keep the sweet older ladies at church happy this winter – because if baby isn’t wearing a hat and shoes he will certainly catch his death. However, my main motivation for buying them was so that next summer when he begins to stand and then walk and his little feet need protection, he will be used to wearing shoes. I’ve learned the hard way that if you wait nearly a year to introduce your baby to the big wide world of footwear you can expect some major resistance!
But this post is not about baby shoes or failed deodorant. It’s about enduring this season of hectic and sometimes humiliating worship services. It’s about not letting Satan convince me that it isn’t worth it, or that my kids are too distracting to others, or that it will be easier if we take a year or two off. It’s about teaching my kids, “Hey, this is where our family will be every time the doors are open…no excuses.” It’s about accepting that I may not really hear and absorb a sermon for a few years, but teaching my children how to behave in church and about our commitment to worshipping our Lord is far more important.
I don’t expect Man Cub to get anything out of the songs, prayers and sermons he will hear during his first year or two. My primary spiritual goal for him this year is to learn to pat the Bible. But just like I want him to be accustomed to wearing shoes now so he will wear them when his feet need protection, I also want him to be accustomed to going to church so he will go when his heart needs protection.
What about the new family that has been visiting? Did you see them last week? Their kids were standing up doing the Macarena during the closing prayer. They should teach those kids how to behave! Guess what, they’re all wearing shoes for the first time and they are doing their best. It’s true that unruly kids can be distracting in church, but let’s try so hard to encourage rather than discourage young parents. I’m sure one day the memory of how challenging these training years really were will have faded and I will be tempted to frown grumpily at young families with loud children. But I pray I don’t. I pray that I will keep sheets of stickers in my Bible to hand the children to help keep them busy. And that I will always have a smile and encouraging words to offer those frazzled parents.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4
In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. – Proverbs 14:26