On Church day, I wrestle her to the ground to comb her hair. I admit it is the only day I comb her hair. I beg her to wear this cute dress with a pink ribbon. I force it over her head and tell her to try twirling. She does and the princess feeling lasts long enough to get us to church where she can’t be – naked. We pile into the car and I give her the run down- Yes, first we go in and sing the songs, then we put some money in the plate, then we go sit at the tables outside so that mom and dad can listen to the important message. Then its Sunday School!
For years, I remember sitting in church reading and even “playing” in my seat. I remember singing songs and that wasn’t so bad. But the talking on and on- ugh! I believe I read the whole Little House Series during the sermons. I even remember a lady coming up to me after church saying “I saw you reading and it looked like you were baking a cake.” I think I was looking at a picture cookbook and pretending to make a cake. I counted heads in the front row. I traced the window patterns in the air. I doodled.
When I think of church when I was under the age of 10, I remember waiting. Waiting for the talking to stop so I could go get a brown, sugary, Pinwheel cookie. ( you have to be in West Michigan to know) Waiting for the chance to get up from the cold, hard seat, twirl, and tap around in my shiny black shoes. Waiting to find my friend Kelle and wanting to sneak a bit of leftover communion bread with her. Waiting to walk downstairs, play with toys, and have my own church- in Sunday School.
So now my six year old daughter is stuck in the same situation. We are in church and she sits. It is what kids are supposed to do. Sit and keep yourself occupied and quiet until church is over. The minister stands up and shares how so and so is sick -“Oh, no! He’s sick! What are they going to do?” she says.
A missionary stand up and starts “Many years ago, ”
“Better listen mamma” he’s telling a story.”
The offering comes around- “Look mom, it’s time to give him a piece of your heart. Do you have any?” I reach in and get her involved that way. Hey, at least she is listening a bit. More than I ever did. Bless her heart for trying!
As soon as the minister stands up for the sermon, we escape to the lobby. There I unpack coloring books, pens, crayons, sticker books, a puzzle, – whatever can be entertaining for the next twenty minutes or so. She keeps herself occupied a little bit – then asks
“Where are the kids? Is it time to go to my class yet?”
The minister says “Now pay attention to that word in the scripture because it is crucial.”
“Mom can you read this page to me please” , she says.
I not only miss the reason why the word is crucial in my Christian walk, I miss the word all together.
The concluding song ends and people begin to file out of the sanctuary.
“Okay, Momma, time to go!” she announces.
We pick up everything and practically race down the stairs like the rest of the kids to Sunday School.
At this age, she is finally at church. The waiting is over.
For a young kid, our Church now is the way it was many years ago. Wait- be quiet- wait- listen- wait-learn. It’s beginning to get engrained in her as it was in me. But my little young brain just couldn’t grasp it and nor can hers. Nothing gained in church except the order of things and a little bit of nice music. For the time being, my child has to do the same- my autistic child. For the time being she does as she is told with little complaint and more- she tries to get something out of it- make the best of it for as long as she can- bless her heart for trying!