Does your church have one of those rooms that are designated for parents to bring their children to when their little ones get a bit noisy during the service? The church we attended when our children were small had one. My husband and I took turns bringing our little ones there whenever it was necessary. Though we did have many successful Sundays due to consistently laying out our expectations and having practice sessions at home, there were those times when we felt we should take them out. We would go to the first room on the right directly off the fellowship hall. This allowed us to avoid disrupting the service and provided a way for us to still hear the sermon.
The first room on the right was small with metal folding chairs set up around the edges. There were also several cubbies filled with glue and scissors and all sorts of other crafty things because it doubled as a Sunday School classroom for children. Colorful pictures and posters with Bible verses and heartfelt phrases hung on the dark paneled walls. They brightened the room more than the solitary window could. The sermon came in over an ancient wooden PA system. I think they may have taken the dial from the cockpit of a WWll plane. No, not really, but it did have a wonderful retro look that I loved. The age of the system made me wonder how many parents had sat in that room through the decades. I wonder now if they were as blessed as I was during my visits.
The blessings came in the sermons yes, but also in the fellowship that I happily enjoyed. I must confess to a certain degree of friendly chatter that diverted our attention from the message. It was mostly other young moms that sat with me. Though we could have talked about a hundred different topics, the conversation inevitably focused on our little ones. Who could blame us? It was exciting being a new mom and they were right there clinging to our legs or nesting in our arms.
I benefited a lot by those visits. The moms and I compared notes and shared concerns. We also talked about raising our children in a God honoring way. That truly was our hearts’ desire. We wanted to raise children who were well behaved and who knew and loved the Lord. One particular conversation that we had stands out in my memory. We were talking about how our little ones sometimes act up in church or when visiting the grandparents or at the supermarket. My friend Lisa shared some advice that she had heard from an older Christian woman. Looking back now I can see that is was Titus 2:3-5 in action. The woman had told Lisa that the one thing you can count on is that your child will act up around others. People will see your child misbehave. What matters is how you respond to it. Will you be utterly embarrassed and worry about what others are thinking? Will you overreact and make a scene? Will you lose your temper with your child? Or will you calmly and gracefully handle it? Her comments were not meant to diminish any godly training or discipline of little ones, but it was meant to shift the focus to what moms can best control, themselves.
The older woman’s advice solved a problem I wasn’t totally aware that I had. I realized that I did sometimes worry about presenting a perfect Christian toddler to the world. *open palm to forehead* I knew from that moment on I would not get stressed out about that. Instead I would look at my own behavior and make sure that I was acting godly and gracefully when they acted up all the while doing my best to train our children in godliness and good behavior. It felt good to let go of that pressure.
Yes, the first room on the right was a blessing. I cherish the memories. Undoubtedly the greatest blessing was the support that I received to bring up our children in the Lord. I saw that my husband and I were not alone. There were other dads and moms working to glorify God in their families. I saw that they faced a lot of the same challenges and social pressures but moved forward anyway. It was so good to be supported in our efforts to have a home that glorified the Lord.