After the birth of our daughter, my wife and I were both too tired and frankly unmotivated to jump right back into the Sunday routine.
The fact our church had a pretty nice live streaming option for Sunday morning services probably didn’t help much either as we took those times to relax as a family and soak in a weekly message from the Word.
As she got older, we realized, for several reasons, our values and desires for what we wanted in a church home had changed and it was basically all due to parenthood. We became less concerned with what we enjoyed and were getting out of a church body and began to focus on what would be the best environment for her.
It wasn’t easy leaving the church we had spent nearly 8 years of our lives at worshipping, volunteering, working and building some of the greatest friendships we have had as a married couple. But, I had grown up in a smaller church atmosphere and so had my wife, so we had a longing to give our daughter the same.
We wanted to come to know each and every person and, especially as it related to the volunteers pouring into our daughter each Sunday, feel a comfort and ease with the fact they would know us as well.
Our first few visits, as with most parents, were a little rough as we attempted to have her stay in the nursery. I believe it took a few weeks before we felt comfortable leaving her for the entire service under the care of someone who had no relation to us whatsoever.
She cried at first and our hearts broke into pieces. But each time, the volunteers would hold her, reassure her and begin to engage in playing as the need for mom and dad’s constant presence became less and less.
Still, I wasn’t completely sold on making this place of worship our new church. I have never been naïve enough to believe perfection can be found through the doors of any church, but I had grown accustomed to certain aspects of our old church and wasn’t sure if I would truly enjoy worship here.
So, we continued to pray and gave it more time as we also attempted to make connections with this church body, which was becoming all the more familiar to us each week.
But the moment, I feel, solidified our decision to make the permanent change happened on just another Sunday morning.
We walked into church, holding our daughter’s hands and guiding her to the check-in station while toting her bag of toddler essentials. Once we had completed the process and received our “collection sticker”, we placed her ID sticker on her back and watched as she walked in front of us, opened the door to the classroom by herself and walked in with all the confidence in the world and not even a single glance back to wave goodbye.
No tears. No prying her off of our bodies and handing her to a nursery volunteer. No reluctance at the door or standing behind our legs as the adult or teen in the room attempted to greet her.
She was completely comfortable with the same few people who cared for her each week and that consistency had grown in her a sense of home.
I think my wife and I were both a little shocked but there was also a great sense of relief as our new priority in life had helped us realize this would be the perfect church home for our new family.
And I thank God for using our daughter to guide us to such an amazing place with such a close, tight-knit family atmosphere where we know she will be encouraged, strengthened and supported in her knowledge and relationship with the Lord as we were in our own churches once upon a time.