That was phase 1: the pre-phase. It was a stage of anxiety and worry. It was a time of wondering and waiting to see what would happen. Phase 2 was the phase. It was us showing up, in pajamas from Saturday night because she didn’t want to wear a church dress and I didn’t want to force her when her whole world had flipped upside down. Phase 2 was getting acclimated to 300 people who wanted to say hello to my cute little blonde girl who had no desire to say hello to them. Phase 2 was preaching my first sermon on my second Sunday without my husband there to watch her and packing a play pack and snack pack to keep her occupied. It was allowing her to sit with me in worship because she refused to do the nursery or Sunday school and I was not going to force her. It was watching her dance during the anthem and hear her plead to stay the second service. Then hearing her plead to leave during the opening song of second service and looking around trying to find someone, anyone who could take her for me. After all, I was the pastor, this was worship, at my new church, my first “time” for many to see me “in action” and I didn’t think walking out in the middle of the music would be a hit. So I found one of a handful of women whose name I actually knew and asked her to take my daughter to the nursery and then chased her down with the backpack of goodies. Phase 2 was dealing with the complaint following that dance during the anthem hearing that she was “too distracting”—my joy-filled, talkative, very active child, who behaved beautifully in worship and did just what she was told, was too distracting. Phase 2 was having my greatest fear (rejection of my child) actualized in that complaint. And it was moving forward despite the critiques. Phase 2 was attending a 7:00pm leadership meeting with child in tow because my husband had to work and then having her melt down because she was dog tired. It was pleading with her to be quiet and not whine. It was bribing her with food, toys, and drink. And finally, it was stepping out of the meeting, scrounging around in the nursery, and finding a stroller and pushing her until she fell asleep in said meeting.
Admittedly, phase 2 was a little rough. It wasn’t unbearable. We survived it. All 3 of us. But it was hard. It was hard to struggle with who to trust and who to turn to with our little one. It was tough to find a new “normal”. It /was tough to see my daughter struggle, and have her not know what was behind her anxiety, stress, or fear. And it was hard to know when to “let go” and let her work it out (even if that meant she was screaming and in tears) and when to hold her close and let her know that despite all the things that had changed in her world, our love and support had not.
I also have to say that on the positive side, Phase 2 showed me a lot of grace. The grace of phase 2 came in the form of that woman in the middle of worship who was willing to take my child without question or hesitation. The grace of phase 2 came in the compassion and care of the lay leaders who were tasked with sharing the complaint but still showed deep concern for both of us. The grace of phase 2 came when a woman on the leadership team helped me push my daughter home after that late night so I could juggle her and all of our belongings beside. The grace of phase 2 came from all the people who sought to greet her and say hello despite her reticence at so many new faces. And the grace of phase 2 came with my parents who helped with the day shift in my first week so my husband and I could both report to work without worrying about Ruth.
There were struggles as we acclimated to our #leap. There was heartbreak and there were tears. And, there was a whole lot of grace shared with us too and for that I am eternally grateful.