For several years when it came to attending church, it was me with my first- and second-born children. My husband works as a restaurant manager and usually isn’t able to attend.
Taking two kids to church by myself was certainly not easy, but I somehow figured out how to make it manageable. Going to church and helping my kids learn about God—I’ve always wanted these things to be priorities.
Often, they went to children’s classes where they made a cross out of wooden craft sticks or colored a picture of Noah’s ark. They listened to a Bible story and sang songs.
Sometimes they came with me to the sanctuary where they learned about worship in a different way. They clapped and sang along to the praise songs. They fidgeted during the message, but I was always amazed at what they absorbed when, during lunch, I asked them what they learned at church.
Throughout the week, they recited memory verses or practiced dance moves they learned during children’s church. My oldest read Bible stories to his sister.
Then my third child was born.
I love him so much, but he is the one. The one who resists naps. The one who fights sleep at night. The one who is hungry all the time. The one who cannot be still for even three seconds. The one who hates being away from me.
Going to church got really difficult.
Other babies slept through the service, but mine cried. Other babies bounced happily on their moms’ laps, but mine screamed. Other babies played nicely with rattles, but mine threw his toys.
When he got a little bit older, I tried dropping him off in the nursery. About 10 minutes into the service, a nursery volunteer would text me and ask me to pick up my very aware infant who could not be consoled.
As he entered the crawling and walking stages, it became more challenging to chase the youngest around the lobby while the older kids were in their classes.
I am embarrassed to admit it, but I gave up on church for a while.
Sometimes, at home on Sunday mornings, I would play a DVD with Bible stories. Or we might watch some of the church service on its Facebook page.
While going to church might have felt impossible, not going to church just felt wrong. Sad. Lonely. Despite these feelings, I continued to tell myself it just wasn’t worth it.
Then one day my oldest asked, “Can we go back to church?”
My daughter, the middle child, chimed in. “Yeah, I want to go back to church, too!”
I thought about pulling out all my typical excuses, “It’s too hard with your little brother. He just screams if I drop him off in the nursery, and he doesn’t do well in the sanctuary. It’s really difficult to chase him around the lobby.”
Instead, I looked at my children asking me to help them have a relationship with God and said, “Yes. We’ll go back to church.”
And so, a couple weeks ago, we did. We went back to church. The big kids were excited to return to their classes, and I was incredibly nervous for the moment when I dropped off my youngest. I figured he would cling to me and cry when I left the nursery.
But you know what? He didn’t. He didn’t cling. He didn’t cry. It felt like a miracle when he willingly followed the volunteer to some toys, not even concerned about where I was.
I obsessively checked my phone during the church service. I was sure a volunteer would send a message requesting I pick up my littlest one. But the message never came. I sat through the entire service by myself, yet beautifully surrounded by the body of Christ.
I’ve always loved worshipping God through music. As I listened to the praise songs, a few lines from a song called “It Is Finished” moved me to tears:
The cross is my beginning;
The line drawn in the sand.
The end of all my striving;
Now I am born again.
God met me right there.
I didn’t have to keep striving. My kids didn’t have to behave perfectly.
We could go back to church. And I’m so glad we did.
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