“Sarah, did you get to go outside today?”
“Yes. I climbed up in the treehouse, and I wasn’t even scared!”
I can hear the excitement in her voice. Glancing in the rearview mirror, I see pride written all over her face – big brown eyes beaming with joy, face-crackingly big smile, pleading eye contact searching for an equal amount of pride to wash over my face as well.
“Sarah, that’s awesome! I’m so proud of you!”
She settled back into her carseat, donned a smug, you-should-be smile and resumed looking out the window for cows, motorcycles and other random Sarahish joys.
“Who did you play with today?”
She names off a few kids and then says, “When I was in the treehouse, I played by myself.” She doesn’t seem sad about it. In fact, she seems quite pleased with this.
I have to know more.
“You didn’t have anyone to play with? Was something wrong?”
I watch her face in the rearview mirror to see if there are signs of sadness, left-outedness or disappointment.
“No, I wanted to sit there by myself. I was singing a song to Jesus.”
Pause. Pause. Semi-awkward moment of silence.
“Really? That’s neat. What was your song about?”
The excitement and pride return to her face accompanied by contentedness and peace.
“I was singing a song about how much I love Jesus and how much I wish he could be here with me.”
She repeated this story to me two more times that evening. When she said her “night-night prayer-rahs,” as she calls them, she said the following:
Now, I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Thank you for Daddy, Jesus, Mama, Sarah, Aubrey and Dayze, and please let Jesus come be with me.
She began asking when we were going to church again. She wanted to know if she could go to the children’s class during church. She wanted to know what else there was to do on days other than Sunday.
We answered her questions as best we could and were forced to make a decision about how to proceed.
My husband and I believe in a Higher Power. We have questioned to which religion we feel most drawn and how to categorize our personal beliefs, but at the end of the day the most important thing remains the same – we do believe and we need to pass this along to our children.
When they get older, our kids can make up their own mind about what they believe, but they will never have that foundation of faith and a platform for being able to make that choice if they aren’t exposed to a church setting. We do so many things to help our kids have a solid start in life – eat dinner as a family, make time to spend together doing fun things, read together, go to the library, let the kids participate in actitivites like Wee Ball, TumbleBus, CompuChild and more.
So when you add all these things together and throw in our many talks about how important we think it is that our kids grow up in church, we were left realizing that there was no real answer to why we weren’t active in the church where we are already members. They have an exceptional children’s program, and it’s a church I’ve attended off and on practically my whole life. There was no real reason not to go other than the fact that were lazy.
So now we go to church.
Yes, it was that easy. After all our slacking and excuses and feet-dragging, we just needed a four-year-old to tell us it was important.
Sarah attended a church-run daycare/school for a couple of years. When she was around two years old, if you asked who loved her, she would say, “Zesus!” Something about that “J” sound was too difficult for her to say, but who is going to correct an adorable toddler who is singing proudly about how Zesus loves her?
When we finally flirted with the idea of going to church more regularly, Sarah was too shy about going to the children’s class during church, so the few times we went, she came with us to the sanctuary and never gave us a moment’s problem. When she was younger, she loved to clap when the choir sang, but other than a few applause outbursts and the occasional, “I’m hungry. When are we leaving?,” she was a perfect angel throughout the services.
This past Sunday, she went to the children’s class and didn’t even hesitate when we left. When we got in the car after church, she was talking about having fun and wanting to know how soon we could go back. I explained that there are services on Wednesdays, too, and that is when the choir practices and missions activities take place.
“When is Wednesday, Mama?”
“Today is Sunday. Say your days of the week.”
She began singing her song to help her remember and realized that Wednesday wasn’t that far away.
“That’s right,” I said. “You’ll go to bed tonight, and then tomorrow is Monday. The next day is Tuesday, and then it’s Wednesday.”
I didn’t think much more about it. She asked a few times about choir and whether she could go, and I thought it would be a good idea if we tried it out. I had no idea how seriously she was taking it.
Wednesday morning, I went to her room to wake her up. Before her eyes even opened, she said, “Today is church day.”
“No, baby, today isn’t church day.” I was oblivious to what she meant. Those big brown eyes flew open and looked right at me with an are-you-kidding-me-with-this seriousness.
“Yes, it is. You said on Sunday that there would be two more days, and then it would be church day again.”
/sigh/ That child is too smart sometimes.
So we went to church Wednesday night, and based on how much fun both she and Aubrey had, I’m sure we will continue to go. For whatever reason, our tenderhearted, fear-filled daughter has been blessed with a sudden rush of courage, maturity and faith.
I’m not sure how this came to be laid on her heart other than maybe it’s God’s way of pushing us to get off our lazy rears and get our family to church. Maybe He said, “If you won’t listen to what I’m telling you, I’ll tell your child. I know you’ll listen to her.”
Message received, Big Guy. See You Sunday.