Laura hasn’t been feeling well this weekend, which is pretty typical for anytime Laura gets a break from school since she pours so much of herself into her work, so I took Cayden to church by myself. This was also a week that I didn’t preach, so I got to sit with him throughout the service once we made it past communion since I was giving a communion devotional.
This means that I got to sing a song before the sermon with him, sit through Gary’s sermon, and then sing the last song with him. It was a blast.
It’s my philosophy to let my three-year-old be a three-year-old during the Sunday service. While I want him to maintain certain boundaries, I don’t mind if he colors, whispers, or plays during the sermon. I do prefer that he sings along with me if he can, but I’m personally I little lax on that as well. One day when he’s older, we’ll start adding more and more boundaries, but for now, I want him to be the three-year-old he is, and I’m not worried about him being the gold standard of silence and stillness.
Occasionally, there’s a little boy who is about Cayden’s age that will get free and run across the stage behind the worship leader or the one speaking that day.
I love it.
We’re meant to be a family, and kids, who are just as much part of the family, are going to be kids.
To me, it reminds me not to take myself so seriously. In fact, if the kingdom of God is composed of people who become like children, perhaps we will all learn to laugh, have fun, and be ourselves.
Of course, we do have to answer a question or two about distracting others from their worship, but I think this question comes from an improper view of worship. Laughing at a kid running across the stage or smiling at a little girl reaching for a cup of juice is worship. Celebrating the innocence and curiosity of youth is a way we can worship the God who created children with innocence and curiosity and the natural inability to sit through a thirty minute sermon.
Yes, I think there should be boundaries, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up (or our kids up) when these boundaries are broken because what else should we expect?
I expect my son to get a little too loud in the assembly. I anticipate him trying to dash into the aisle and occasionally being successful. I know that he will want to come up there with me when I’m giving a communion talk or preaching.
Of course he will.
But for all of the times he messes up, which I’m not worried about because he will naturally grow out of being a toddler, there are dozens of more times when we share special moments together.
In the song before the sermon this last week, our worship leader led us in “Battle Belongs.” The point of the song is that even when we are going through a tough time in our life, we should remember that we have been made more than conquerers through Christ. There is victory in Jesus.
The chorus of the song says, “With my hands lifted high, Oh God, the battle belongs to you.”
During this part of the song, some people in the church lift their hands to God. Our worship leader generally leads the way in this, and when he did, Cayden followed.
If you’re familiar with the Tim Hawkins scale of acceptable hand raising, then he did the “touchdown.”
I loved it.
I still have trouble raising hands in songs. Even though I sometimes feel the urge to raise hands, I restrain myself because that isn’t how I was raised, but the innocent, curious, excited, joyful boy in my arms embraced the freedom offered to him and threw his hands in the air.
After the sermon, we sang another song called “I Still Have Joy.” After sitting relatively still while coloring throughout the whole sermon, he was ready to go, so when we started singing about joy, he started showing it by running back and forth from one end of the pew to the other. I explained what his boundaries were, and he took off. While we sang about joy, and as I watched him express his joy, the joy in my heart doubled. I just love that kiddo.
Some Sundays, though, it’s tough. It’s tough to remember that there are more than one way to parent. It’s tough to remember that he’s only three. And, yes, it can sometimes be embarrassing to let him “run amok” as I can imagine someone saying. There are days when it is a little much and he has to go to the nursery, and that’s okay.
But I try to remember that Jesus said to let the children come to him. Even though his disciples, and some of his disciples today, may not like that; that is what he said, so I’m trying to embrace that by letting Cayden approach Jesus in his own way too, even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable.
One day, he’ll grow out of his toddler stage, and the skills he picks up in elementary school will enable him to sit still for longer periods of time, but, for now, I’m just happy that I get to be the dad of an awesome little guy and a beautiful daughter.