So, let’s just state the obvious right off the bat – worship with littles will be easier if you actually show up to worship.
For awhile when my daughter was a small baby it was crazy hard to get to church. Amazingly, once she started sleeping well through the night, Saturday was her preferred night to be up multiple times, resulting in a very tired mama in the morning. It didn’t help that my bed always seems extra warm and cozy Sunday mornings. Pulling ourselves out of bed and finding the energy to shower and get our little family looking presentable on a Sunday morning is quite the feat in itself. And then my mommy brain starts to think ahead to all the potential… activities… my daughter will decide are appropriate for church.
Recently, my almost 18-month-old has learned that squealing loudly is a fun pastime. It’s even more fun when we can get the ENTIRE CHURCH looking in our direction during the service. I take her up front for the children’s message (because, showing up) and during the most recent one she insisted on walking the semi-circle of older kids and showing them her matchbox car, and you know, the closer you hold the car to someone’s face, the better they can see the detail. Occasionally she’ll slip past my grasp and take off running towards the front of the church. One week she yelled until I let her look out one of the windows. Just recalling her worship antics is enough to make me want to stay home.
Sometimes the showing up is the biggest hurdle to worshipping with littles. It’s easier to want to just stay home – skip getting everyone ready, get out the door, load up the car, sit through a crazy service and get back home. Maybe you get tired just thinking about getting your family to church. Maybe you catch yourself more often than not thinking, “What’s the point? What am I getting out of worship when I’m chasing down my toddler?”
Jesus promises to show up in our lives. He promises to hear and answer our prayers. He modeled showing up in the best possible way when He came to earth as a human baby in Bethlehem. He showed up for the hurting, sick and hungry. He showed up when His disciples were doubting and scared. He showed up to take our place on the cross, forgiving our sin and opening the floodgates of God’s grace and mercy on us. He showed up outside that tomb and inside locked doors and promises to show up again one day, soon. He shows up in countless ways each day for you.
Those days I want to stay home, when I’m most tempted to stay in my pjs and watch endless episodes of Daniel Tiger, God graciously reminds me why it’s important to show up. I think of the times my daughter hears the worship team and breaks out dancing. The times she excitedly sees her little friends and shares snack cups. How she sings and babbles in her own special way while we sing and speak during the service. How her eyes light up and she says “oohh” when she notices something interesting or new. Her smile when people who love her so dearly at church say hi specifically to her and make her feel welcome. It’s those little reminders, and God’s tugging at my heart that having my kid in worship needs to be a priority, that push me over the showing up barrier. Does she understand the sermon? Not yet, but she’ll start to soon. She’s hearing about Jesus and learning that showing up to worship is important to our family.
So, if showing up is a hurdle that seems too high to jump, take it to the One who showed up first. Take your doubts and fears and exhaustion and (dare I say it) laziness to Jesus. He forgives our laziness and gives us motivation. He takes our doubts and give us confidence. He sees our exhaustion and gives us Sunday afternoon naps. He knows our fears and covers us with peace and those little reminders that even on the hardest Sunday mornings, what we’re doing in showing up is so vital. We can rely on Him to help us show up, just as He is always there for us.