Tonight was the first night my daughter attended church service in a huge arena.

I thank you for your patience.  I know it is never easy to concentrate when a small person is acting like a small person.  I know that Baptists in general are not known for boisterous celebration during church service, making my little ones presence that much more of an obvious predicament.

It did not go unnoticed to me though, the stern looks you were casting over your shoulder as she brought your attention to her.  And I would like to openly apologize if she disrupted your countenance with the Lord in any way.  I would have openly and graciously accepted your admonishment of her participation in the evening.  Though I would not have changed a single thing.

Because she is four even if she looks older due to her size.  And does not know that there are places she may not be herself.  I tell her every day – to learn and grow, and that it is OK to make mistakes if that what it takes to be the person God is designing her to be.  It will likely be years before she can read the body language of others to know she is being disruptive.  Even then, I hope she continues to influence her environment more than being influenced by it.

None of us were at our usual church with our usual congregation, so she didn’t understand the call to prayer by this preacher.  The quiet reminded her both times she had to potty.  And yes that meant walking from the front of the congregation on a concrete floor to the back of the building in front of thousands of people quietly praying together with the preacher.  Her best try at quiet feet were most likely still heard by every person in that arena.  But I would rather her be at the front, proud to worship than to feel she is only allowed in the fringe.

I am sorry if her resting her feet on your chair seat without my noticing was startling.  The seats were too big for her and she was tired of her legs hanging uncomfortably while sitting in my lap.  Two hours is a long time for a little body to stay comfortable without getting to move.

I am sorry if her tracing the pattern on your chair tickled your back.  Or if it was disrespectful for her to question why there were people with guns and flags at church.  She is too young to understand what our military is, why we would need them, and choose to honor them for their service.   Her innocence is an inspiration to me and I am happy she sees our church honoring the military before she sees others disapproval.

I know that even though she was whispering, she doesn’t really know how loud or quiet to whisper yet.  Or that humming to keep herself busy in her own version of quiet may have been loud enough for you to hear.

But I am proud of her.  She sat through a difficult sermon on a subject matter that would make most adults uncomfortable.  She did not complain, even though it was 3 hours past her bedtime.  She was happy to spend time with me at church.  Just the two of us.  Watching her Great-grandmother sing in the choir.

And I am grateful for you sitting in front of us.

You reminded me to continue to see her as a child.  A small person not yet marred by the ugliness we find in the world.  To smile at her wonderment and curious questions.  To forgive her as she struggles to find the right path through childhood.

I too, one day, would like her to have the patience to sit and listen for an entire church service with an eager mind.  To be able to follow simple instructions on when it is time to be quiet and when to participate.  To better understand what it means to stand prayerfully as a group.  That is why I take her with me when I can.  So every life experience brings her closer to where her eternity begins.  And in my opinion, there is no better place to gain life experiences than surrounded by loving people in church.

As we (she) danced our way out of the building, clinging to mine and her great-grandmother’s hands, the sheer splendor she had that evening made my week.  Many people complimented her on how well she behaved.  Three ladies specifically mentioned how they noticed her attempts to walk quietly as we made our way to the bathroom during prayer time.

By the time we made it to our car, I could tell she saw the people around us as friends not strangers.  It was a beautiful night she will not soon forget.  I hope the next time my children, or other children, sit near you, it becomes an opportunity to share a smile.  To clap and make silly faces.  To find your inner child.  Because children have their own way of worship.

With love and coffee,

Shanda