Churching.

Now that we have found a rhythm in our life as a family of three, we decided to emerge from the world of online worship and put our feet back inside of a church.  Stepping through those doors two weeks ago was like a breath of fresh air.  To be back in the midst of the body of believers, to be surrounded by a community with a heartbeat and desire to serve God, to worship outside of my pajamas…I savored it all.

We brought William with us and he had his first experience at kid’s church.  At his current age, it is just nursery daycare, but it is still a big deal for him.  The first week was a little unnerving, since it was all completely new, but he survived.  When we returned the following Sunday, he knew what was going to happen and quickly became very unhappy.   It was heartbreaking to leave him, but the lovely ladies in the nursery assured us that we would be paged if he continued to be upset.  We never received a page, so were excited and proud to pick him up once the service was over.

When we rounded the corner and our little love came into view, I saw something that I will never forget for as long as I live.  There, on the floor surround by toys, was our boy sitting with a friend, babbling and sharing a bag of Puffs.  I know it sounds completely ordinary, but to me it was much more…it was our boy relaxed, happy, and at home in church.

I was immediately overcome with gratitude that we live in a country where we are able to worship freely in places with wonderful child care.  When William turns two he will officially start Sunday school and the thought of that is enough to do me in.  I am so incredibly humbled by the thought that there will be people week after week to love on my boy and to teach him about Christ, filling in the holes that we miss, and giving another voice to the faith that we treasure.  What an incredible gift.

As I thought about all of this, I found myself flooded by memories of my own experiences growing up in the church.  I thought about my time in Sunday school and then youth group…Wednesday night suppers, mission trips, flannel boards, weekend retreats, animal crackers, uncomfortable shoes, Bible studies, and unforgettable friends.  I thought about the lessons I learned, the Scriptures I memorized, the questions I asked, the trips I took, and the experiences that changed me forever.  I remembered the faces–the friends and the leaders, the old and the young–some who remain beside me today and those who are now only familiar in my memories.  Church helped grow me into the woman I have become.  It was there, through the commitment of so many faithful people, that I came to know the God who relentlessly pursued me and found a passion in His calling.  Thankful doesn’t even come close to capturing my gratitude–my life was permanently transformed by the time I spent there.

So while it seems inconsequential to note this image of my boy eating Puffs in Sunday school, to me it was the start of something…the start of something huge.  It marked the first chapter in what I pray will be a lifelong relationship between my boy, the body of believers, and the God who loves him more than he will ever comprehend.

So. Very. Thankful.

Called.

I once heard it said that the greatest difference you make in the world might not be what you do, but who you raise.

While I no longer remember the context or author of this idea, the weight behind the words has remained with me for years.  When I first heard it, I was not yet a mother and still the words stunned me with their profundity.  Now with a future man in my care, the idea has an even more sobering impact.

I thought that when we first had William, we had a complete understanding of the tremendous responsibility given to us as parents.  As we crept along I-4 after leaving the hospital, we were overcome by the reality that we. were. his. parents.  We would be responsible for making sure he was safe, fed, and cared for, every hour of every day.  It was daunting and inspiring, terrifying and empowering.  We weren’t sure how to go about it but minute by minute, day by day, that is exactly what we started doing.  We woke in the middle of the night to make sure he was still breathing.  We obsessed over how much he was eating.  We checked the temperature of his toes constantly to make sure he wasn’t too hot or too cold.  Every doctor’s appointment served to affirm that we were actually doing ok.  He was growing.  He was healthy.  And we were relieved.

16 months into this thing, my perspective has shifted a bit.  God has taught me so much in these 500+ days of motherhood and I can say without question that I am not the same person who welcomed William into the world…hopefully, I’m better.  I have grown and changed in countless ways and am now feeling at home in this identity of Mom.  While I am much more confident in my day-to-day responsibilities as William’s mama, one thing hasn’t changed…I remain humbled and awestruck by the responsibility of raising this little boy into a man.  While the general concerns regarding his well-being haven’t lessened, the scope of what it means to raise him in my mind has broadened considerably.

I must teach him the alphabet and also teach him how to give and receive love.

I must protect him from harm but also encourage him to take risks that will enable him to grow.

I must hold his hand to show him that he is safe and cherished, but let it go when he needs to experience new things apart from me.

I must help him read.  And dance.  And swim.  And compromise.

I must instruct him on how to eat with proper table manners and also how to live a life with integrity, honor, and passion.

I must provide a safe place for him to ask questions and also show him that it’s ok to not always have the answers.

I must help him learn to walk without assistance and navigate the path between right and wrong.

I must kiss his hurts and wipe away his tears, while affirming him and letting him know that it’s ok to cry.

I must show him how to put others first, all while the world is screaming at him to only look out for number one.

I must teach him the Gospel, but even more challenging, I must live the Gospel before his eyes in the way I love.

And on…and on…and on…

A person could get downright overwhelmed and desperate in the light of this awesome responsibility.  How thankful I am that I will never walk a day of this journey alone.  When I start to feel like I can’t do something, I am reminded that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

God has called me to this position…chosen me not just to be a mama, but to be William’s mama.  With that knowledge, I can take a deep breath and rest in the fact that while I am caring for William, He will take care of me and meet all of my needs minute by minute…hour by hour…day by day.