Attending Church Services With Toddlers

January 27, 2010 by Rieshy
I've had a baby or toddler in tow for basically 18 years straight now. Even though all my children have learned to sit quietly in church services pretty quickly, services with small ones is not exactly restful or conducive to deep personal "spiritual" participation.

Even the best behaved babies spit up, have ill-timed diapers or need to nurse. Toddlers wiggle, want to play with your hands, hair, bracelet. Small children fall asleep against you, tugging your neckline down so that you spend 2 verses of a song trying to tug it back up without waking them. Notebooks get dropped, older kids need help finding passages.

All of this of course happens after the morning rush of getting everyone dressed and fed and out the door- "No I don't know where your other black shoe is- quick someone go back in the house and grab the nail clippers so I can clip 5 yo's disgusting nails on the way!"

Sometimes it's just a long and dusty work regardless of how insightful the sermon or beautiful the singing. The corporate worship and fellowship aspects aside, I've often found myself wondering why? What am I getting out of services?

One answer was given me yesterday.

Any mother dreads stomach viruses. They can spread like wild fire through the family, wiping out weeks of productivity. Almost everyone has one kid who seems incapable of making it to the bathroom. Ick. I especially dread stomach viruses because my two youngest have a metabolic disorder and a stomach virus can trigger a metabolic de-compensation.

My 2 year old got sick yesterday. His first stomach virus. How will he do? It's almost not a matter of if, but when and to whom this sweet, coughing, runny nose, feverish, kiss-giving toddler will share the virus. Will it be to his 3 year old, more fragile brother?

I was getting dressed when I felt a balloon of panic fill my chest. Visions of two babies in the hospital at the same time- all sorts of scenarios started rushing past my mind's eye.

Then, out of the past 18, often dusty years of church, came the words of a hymn. A hymn I don't even like. The balloon popped; panic was replaced by the words, "The battle belongs to the Lord".

The power of darkness comes in like a flood
The battle belongs to the Lord
He's raised up a standard, the power of His blood
The battle belongs to the Lord

We sing glory and honor Power and strength to the Lord
We sing glory and honor Power and strength to the Lord
by Jamie Owens-Collins

The words don't mean that the stomach virus will instantly disappear. But they do remind me that Christ has already won the ultimate victory; I'll lean on him, and that's enough. In the meantime I'll get to enjoy cuddling the above mentioned 2 year old, who is usually far too busy to cuddle.

I guess I've been getting more out of services than I realized.

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emily freeman said...

I don't have little ones who are quite so fragile, but I have certainly let anxiety fill me up about this same issue just as you describe. Thank you for sharing these song words (to a song I don't like, either!) Sometimes it helps to see the lyrics without hearing the music. This is one of those times.

Susan said...

I feel the same way. It's hard to even attend church with little ones and feel like you're getting something out of the lesson. All I reassure myself with is that I'm not the only one! :)

Hope the kids feel better!

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