Going to Church with Kids: Challenges, Motivation, and Blessings
I get excited for Sunday’s, I really do because I never know what will be in store for us as we all take on the challenge of going to church with the kids. You know what challenge I’m talking about, sitting quietly for an hour as I try to intently listen to the message as my children whisper/ yell-whisper at the same time. Yes, that challenge. Admittedly though, I have actually created a great system for when we are in church that keeps them pretty calm. Calm enough that I have been approached by someone every time that I have all my kids with me in church. Last Sunday, I got told that I was an inspiration to all mothers from a church member that walked across the isle to motivate me. The elderly couple behind me told me I have great patience and was doing a great job. This isn’t me bragging, okay maybe a little, I’ve worked hard on this, but I want to share the joy of the reward that my devotion has paid off. Today a mom with the same age children who sat next to me with her five year old complimented on how well behaved the kids are. We laughed about how much of a Ham liladster is. We discussed how her other children were in class and I told her mine would have but they all opted to be with Mommy today. We laughed about the hardships that come with bringing your children to church and that we wish there was a simple easy button.
To all the other parents I know it’s always a hard decision to make, should I take them with me? Should I put them in class where they can be exposed to sickness? Will I really learn anything if they are sitting with me? Will they even learn? I know in their class they will atleast get a little more out of it then with me? Right?
All of these questions are legit, now that I think about it, it really shouldn’t be that hard of a choice. Yet, sometimes it can be for some parents. I obviously, was that parent. With each child I had new fears. New worries and doubts, I didn’t know if I could handle it. I want you to know I support whichever decision you make. I have noticed there are benefits of both. The good news is, either way they are learning about God and building a relationship with him. So you’re already winning!
Like everything, it’s a balancing act, there are times that I’m alone when they all go to class, there are times when I have just one kid. There are times when someone voices their opinion and tells me they want to join me. The kids love the music and we sing the songs all week long at home and this has become one of my favorite times of the week. The constant singing brings such joy to my soul and warms my heart that it actually has become a big part to refueling me.
We are partaking in a parent/child dedication ceremony on Mother’s Day and we have to take a devotional class beforehand. During our class we discussed that the church ministry only has about 33 hours a year with your child. That’s the average amount of hours each year that each kid will get in Sunday school after missed days due to illnesses and holidays. That’s not enough for your children to grow a relationship upon. Children need us, you, a community to help them grow in their relationship with God. The awesome part about sharing church with your child is they get to see how you worship God, and how you praise him. I let myself go during the music so they learn to feel it completely and vurnerably. Christian music has always had such a profound place in my heart, body, and soul that it literally has only deepened my relationship with God. So, I like to allow it to take me to my place of serenity, and want my children to see that.
The kids are more funny in church then angry it’s just the youngest hasn’t quite got the whisper thing down. I always get a kick out of it though when she chimes in with laughter at all of Pastor Tim’s corky jokes perfectly on cue. Now, don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been perfect, we’ve had our days were the youngest is sleepy and throws a fit and I have to rock her and miss out on the message and watch it later on podcast. That mostly happened when she was younger. There were moments were we made messes and spills, and my goodness can you just stop. There were even moments were I wanted to get up and leave, but I didn’t. I did however step out and recover, but I always go back. I’ve noticed the devotion has paid off. It has taught them to try to remain silent, listen and soak up one good lesson for mommy. The devotion now lies within them as well. They always walk in confident and ready to participate in church. From saying hello to everyone, singing, and yes, even the listening. If they choose to sit with me and not go to school I told them they need to walk out and tell me one thing they heard so we can discuss it further and we can understand it a little better. This has helped keep some of the chatter down as they do listen for something. I will say, it has been fun to hear their side of the sermon they heard. Sometimes, Aliyna just clings to one word Tim said.
It is a funny thing though, I don’t get motivation from others nearly as often or any other time as I do when I have all three of my kids. Well maybe a handful of times, women come up to me when I have my two youngest. It could be when they see my youngest, she is something else. It’s like, they see me with all my hands tied up and feel like they should motivate me, and to be honest I’m glad they did, because it is exactly what they are doing, motivating me. I’ve gotten positive motivation from other church members, nearly every Sunday since I’ve had my three kids. Literally, I can remember other moms telling me good job, and saying they didn’t know how I do it by myself when Addie was a newborn. Yet, I have to say this, GOOD JOB TO EVERYONE!! Everyone, you made it to church so go you!! I think everyone who goes deserves a praise every now and then. So I dare you to go up to anyone and tell them good job for being there, not just the moms who are juggling kids.
I read a blog the other day about a man telling the mom in church good job. It was beautiful. Calming her worries about the “challenges of church” and saying keep it up. That he sees her efforts and says good job. It got shared over a million times and felt good to read as another person says good job to us moms. Its tiring sometimes, and can even get deflating when church is supposed to be about building yourself up for the week. It’s about setting your mind on what matters. If you find yourself struggling with the “church challenges” with your children then try getting a new perspective. You are there to help build a relationship with yourself and your children. So do that, don’t focus so much on the message. If you need to, go back later and listen to the online sermons when you have peace and quite like I sometimes do if I feel like I missed too much. Most churches offer recaps online. Use the time as an opportunity to experience God with your child.
I have made Sunday’s all about the experience of church vs a “to do. I let the kids explore church and the grounds all around. Today we found this hallway filled with an art gallery! It was pretty awesome talking about all pieces with the kids. They kept running and asking what this meant, and I even made them guess on a few and it was funny to hear their obvious answers.
I let them see Jesus in all the scenery and devotionals the church has put up. I don’t rush out of church, or hurry the kids out because I want to get it over with. I walk around, allow the kids to shake peoples hands, and tell all the older people hello, because they always get a kick out of them and their smiles. Last week, we even waited in line to shake the pastors hand. I want them to see community in our church not selfishness. I let them play outside if the weather is good. Their favorite is the water fountain out front of our church.
They’ve always enjoyed it and this last Sunday, I was blessed to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit inspiring my son. Last Sunday, after church service, he asked to stay so he could pray and worship longer. The kiddos stopped and said hello to Pastor Tim, said thank you for the words he says to strengthen our relationship. Then, when we walked out we made our usual stop at the water fountain. While we watched the water and all three kiddos had to pose on the cross like Jesus, Ayden asked why the cross was there. We’ve seen that cross for years and he has never asked that before. I explained to him that it’s called a “Meditation Fountain”. That as you sit there on the rock, you look at the cross and let it remind you of all the good works and sacrifices that Jesus did for us, and then you close your eyes and allow the water to quiet your soul while you wait to hear God whispering in your heart. He said let’s try! I couldn’t wait!!!
I sat down next to him and closed my eyes, peaked them open to see him with his head bowed down, eyes shut, and mouth quiet. He silenced himself to hear God. He listened to the water, and it was such a beautiful sight. It was. For a passer by thought so too, they took our pic and showed it to us! HOW SWEET!!!! THANKS FOR THAT!
I feel like I mess up a lot in parenting. I honestly sit at night and think about if I could have said something better to help them grow in any way. I don’t want to miss moments of opportunities that I could have shared intimate moments with them that can help them in their future.
Again, I have to say thank you to all the woman and older couples that come up to me each week and tell me I’m an inspiration to mothers, and that I handle all three of my kids by myself each week with such grace and patience. It’s def a daunting task sometimes so to get constant motivation each week from fellow church members feels good. No one has ever told me that my children bother them so thank you. I think if I felt like we were bothering people then I would never get moments like these. I know it’s difficult and tiring, most people want to go straight home, but try something different at church with your kids and see if yalls relationship with God grows together. It’ll be something either one of you won’t be able to forget.
-Start it, Commit to it, Succeed