I have been in the nursery at church the past two Sundays. Last week was my regularly scheduled week and this week, I was asked to help out because one of the people scheduled was home sick. I have been volunteering in the nursery for the past three years. I quite like it. I love babies and toddlers. Kids once they start talking and such make me nervous in mass, but I can do the babies and toddlers thing.
The thing about doing nursery is that you end up missing church… The service in its entirety because you are upstairs hanging out with the kids. It sounds really legalistic of me, but I love church services and feel quite disappointed and as if I am missing out on something when I don’t get to go. I like the community of worship. I like learning. I like music. The actual service gives me all of these things. But really, it isn’t about me and I am happy to help and worship in giving of my time and ministering to the little children.
I was not exactly pumped about week two of nursery because of the whole missing church again thing, but went up anyway. There was a reason I had to do it this week. The other lady I did nursery with was someone I had never met before. She was older and very nice. She has been going through a difficult time with the health of her husband and her sons living in another province (interestingly in the city where I grew up). She told me all about all of this and I just sat and listened while we waited for the kids. I didn’t have any wise words to say other than “I’ll pray for you,” but by the time the children came, she said that she felt much better having talked about it. She doesn’t feel she can tell others, as they know her husband and he would be embarrassed. Sometimes it is amazing how a circumstance can put you in the right place at the right time, even when you thought you were there for another purpose.
Back to the nursery… Our church is currently going through its own little baby boom. So, the nursery is packed (well, compared to where I grew up it is packed… I am talking 3-6 babies/toddlers and three nursing moms that come in and out). Thus, the nursery ministry, or “Welcome” ministry is becoming more and more significant, which is cool.
I love watching these kids grow up. A few of them have now since “graduated” into Patrick’s “Wonder” ministry. Now, we get to compare notes on how they are changing and growing. It is neat to see them crawling, then walking, then talking. There are two twin boys (identical…. I still don’t actually know who is who most days) that started coming when they were just crawling and are now speaking in full sentences and doing things like learning how to blow bubbles (whist getting more solution on me). The second Sunday I had them, one cried so much he threw up after his parents left and now they run in and start showing us everything they can find to play with.
The whole baby caregiving thing is also fantastic for my biologic clock. I am not in the ideal position to be having a child. Not that there really is an ideal time or position to be having a child. I will graduate from med school in May, but residency will start in July and the first year or two, in particular are grueling with plenty of call and busy rotations that are outside my area of interest. Not exactly the setting to be dreaming of morning sickness and screaming children. If I were to have a baby, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. If God wants me to, I am there. But I hope he doesn’t. Needless to say, I still “want” a baby. I just don’t “need” one. Watching other people’s children has been sufficient to soothe my need for cuddles and such and also show me the not-so-sunny side of parenting (tantrums, sickness, fighting). Good to be aware. Good for reminding me I don’t want that yet. But, someday….
Today, one of the little guys was a whirlwind. Sweet, but busy. Dump every box of toys out busy. And he is going through a pushing phase. So, every now and again, you have to intervene, as he tries to take out another toddler. Good times. At one point, he shoved another little girl and I stopped him just before he did. I told him shoving wasn’t nice. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Hitting is bad, shoving is wrong. I know.” He proceeded to go do the same thing 5 minutes later.
Its tough when kids go through phases. His mom said that she is getting so frustrated with his shoving because she has no idea how he picked it up or how to make it stop. He is a good kid. He apologized to the little girl and to me. But then he does it again. The good thing about phases is that they usually end. Especially with discipline and positive reinforcement.
We are like the little boy. We may no longer shove other people, but we have our own phases, even in adulthood. We do things wrong. We do things that hurt people. And we don’t always stop, even though it has been pointed out to us time and time again.
I have this habit of not using my words (funny given I write a blog). When I am hurt or upset, I shut down. I show my emotions on my face, so I can’t hide it, but I can choose to not speak. Drives Patrick nuts. As it should. People need to communicate when they are upset or hurt. I know that. And yet, I go back to doing the same old thing over and over again.
We all have sin in our lives. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes they are things that others can’t see. Sometimes we don’t yet even realize that what we are doing is wrong. The thing is, God, like a parent sees us doing these things. The Holy Spirit guides us to recognize what we are doing as wrong. He brings others into our lives to rebuke us and to support us in changing. God will help us to stop sinning. Like small children, though, we first have to learn that something is wrong. And even after that, it takes time to remove the sin from our lives. It takes time to remodel habits. To learn a better way of coping or functioning. And like a parent, God will keep reminding us, will keep watching and redirecting with the help of others to make us into the people he planned for us to be.
When I look at the frustrated mother, who has been telling her two year old not to shove, I think, wow, that must be tough. But when you look at it, God has been telling me not to boast or lie or be spiteful for much of my life. And I still do it from time to time. That is a lot more correcting. It is a good thing He has all the time in the world. And all the patience. Because like a good parent, he cares about what we do and wants us to turn out for the best. He knows that we make mistakes, but that one of those times we will listen and learn.