participating in church

Over the years, I’ve struggled with how to get my older daughter, Lyd, to participate in worship services at our church.

In the past, she’s resisted strongly.  I’ve pointed along with the words in our service folder to various parts of the service (ie. liturgy, hymns, Bible readings), and many times she has turned away at least her eyes if not even her head.  I have instructed her to stand when everyone else stands, sit when everyone else sits, fold her hands when we’re praying, and find the hymns in the hymnal when it’s time to sing.  However, she has not always done these things and has therefore gotten in trouble many times, too.

I remember one service at our former congregation where she was being so quietly defiant to me that after the service I made her go straight home — without being able to go to Coffee Hour, which meant no friends and no treats! Truly a horrible punishment! — and she and I “did” the service again in the living room.  We went through the various portions of the service, her and me, as we sat together on the ottoman.  She cried through most of it, but she did it.  That was quite some time ago, at least over a year ago if not even two years ago, but the struggles of getting her to participate in church have continued, if to a lesser extent.

But, I think I can confidently say that we’re past all of that now, and I now realize what has made the difference – she is finally able to read well!  Lyd is one who likes to do things perfectly the first time, and learning to read has been frustrating for her.  She has always been very good at reading at whatever ability level she was at, but I strongly suspect that from the start she’s wanted to be able to easily read whatever SHE wanted.  But, unsurprisingly, she hasn’t had that ability.  She’s had to learn the basics, like everyone else has had to, and she’s had to go slowly, making mistakes, but getting better and better as she went along.

But now she’s halfway through second grade, and finally, things are clicking for her.  She can sit down and read almost anything now; well, at least she can read whatever it is she wants to read!  And now that reading is coming much more easily for her, she’s much more willing to participate in church.  She sings along in her lovely clear voice to both liturgy and hymns, she participates, and while she’d still prefer to draw pictures during the sermon rather than listen, she’s getting better at that, too.

It’s interesting to see how much Lyd’s core personality is like her father’s core personality.  Perhaps that’s why it was so difficult for me to understand Lyd over these past years.  I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t willing to try, and it got me very frustrated with her.  But it truly was just how she was wired.  As time has gone on, I’ve learned more about who my husband is by raising our daughter.  It’s been a learning experience for all of us.

I’m glad that Lyd is feeling more confident about her abilities.  She is intelligent and kind and loving and full of thought-full thoughts.  She is not a lot like me in her basic personality, but her own personality has been given to her by God and is just perfect for her.  She is truly a wonderful girl who is well on her way to becoming a wonderful woman some day.  I am very much enjoying watching her grow up, and I feel very priviledged to be her mother.