Strong enough to stand in His love
I thought we'd made the best decision for our family; after all, we needed established children's programs right? I loved Encounter Life completely, but church had become a WWF wrestling match to get the kids to behave because they were bored out in the sanctuary with me, but no kids classes or nursery available every other week (which seemed to be the weeks we managed to get there). So we went back to our old church. Everyone was excited and we fell right back into swing as if we'd never been gone. The babies were new to the teachers because they'd stepped up a class since we'd been last, so I didn't get all "righteous Mommy" over Cassie being soaked through to her clothes. I just made a gentle reminder that not all 3 year olds are potty trained yet, and could they please remember to check her. I got smiles and promises in return.
So, we trucked along and began to make commitments in the church and it began to feel like home again. Then, my oldest daughter said to me that they didn't treat Cassie well and she didn't want to go back there ever again. WHAT?!?!?!?!? This is news to me, I had completely trusted they were treating all of our kids well, what do you mean "they don't treat her well"? She proceeded to preach at me with that "righteous big sister" tone complete with the body language and told me that HER sister was NOT going back in there without her EVER again. I assured her that (surely) she had misinterpreted the situation somehow. She huffed. It was decided to not pursue anyone without further information, I mean, I don't even know who was in there that day.
Fast forward to today, it's a big day with a major celebration tonight and everyone's in our house is a little high strung including me. lol First thing, we get called back to get Charly because they think he has pink eye. Well the boy's been crying since we walked away and now his eyes are red, so they freak out over the possibility of pink eye knowing darn good and well he was fine before we plunked him down on the other side of the baby gate and went to class. Or so you'd think.... but here we go and, of course, he's fine only now he's not going to stay without a serious fight so we agree to take him with us this Sunday. No big deal so long as it's every once in a while.
Then I spy Cassie's teacher at the back door motioning for someone to open the door for her and the class (looks like they've been outside playing. I open the door and crane my neck around to lay eyes on her, but she's not there. So, I inquire, "Where's Cassie?" This woman wrinkles up her nose and says to me Cassie's Mother, "Oh SHE wasn't allowed to come outside she's in there!" "Where?" I say. "In there." and she points her finger. So, I say to her, "Oooookay, are you going to tell me why she wasn't allowed to go outside with everyone else?" "Oh," she says. "She's awful, she wouldn't listen to me and wouldn't sit down with the rest of the class for the lesson. She's disruptive." ..... WHAT?!?!?!?! My mind is reeling and for the first time ever I want to smack someone in church! Take heart, I gathered my composure and said to her, "I'm Cassie's Mom and you shouldn't label children like that." She gives me this look like whatever says "Oh sorry." So, I march off with a purpose to locate my child because she never told me where to find her. My distraught face caught someone's attention and while fighting back tears of absolute hurt and confusion I say "I want my Cassie right now!" God bless this woman who says, "Absolutely, come with me she is with this lady right here in the room."
I get Cassie in my arms, but she likes where she is because they are being wonderful to her and she begs to go back and play so I let her. I search for the lady, but she's too busy for me." I feel myself losing it in the middle of church. How can I leave her back there? Can I trust them? Are they being mean to her? Neglecting her? What on earth is going on here? I feel like I'm spinning when my sweet hubby touches my arm and says, "I love you!" Words that should calm me down, but instead I meet his eyes and tears well up in mine. I explain and he says we can leave, but we go searching for the lady in charge for some answers and help. We run into another wonderful person who tries desperately to calm my Mommy nerves. She assures us that it will be addressed and she will personally oversee the rooms Cassie is in to determine what is going on. She begs for us to give her the chance to correct the situation. We go back to services with Charly.
Only, I can't think about anything except what's going on back there with Cassie. I prayed and begged for peace, I even demanded peace, but it did not come. I kept fighting back tears of worry and hurt, so I went to check on her. She was a little rambunctious, but so very happy a good sign for me. Cassie is herself when she's in a trusting environment, so this tells me she feels safe and happy. I stay to help reign her in a little. I stay out in the hallway when they go back to the classroom and I watch from a distance. I don't see what her Sunday School teacher is claiming. Cassie sits when she is asked to sit. She is actively listening.... granted, a little distracted, but they steer her back to the task at hand. They color a sheet and Cassie gets up a few times and approaches someone, asks a question, they answer her, and say let's sit back down and she says, "Ok" and sits back down. So where's the disruptive child from Sunday School that was singled out and not allowed to go outside with everyone else because I don't see that and neither do the ones in charge of this class.
Again, we speak to the lady who assures us she can identify the problem in the classroom. She says Cassie's been a normal 3 year old for them and doesn't see what the problem is, but she wonders if it's because this lady and her, now grown, boys were always quiet. So maybe, she reasons, she just doesn't know how to relate to Cassie's high energy personality. Before I can stop myself, I inform her bluntly that the lady shouldn't be teaching a class if she couldn't relate to and take care of children any better than that. I tell her that we may not come back to Calvary because this is huge. She, again, begs for the chance to mend the situation and we regress.
Is it wrong of me to not feel optimistic about it? In the car, my sweet, supportive hubby says that we can go back to Encounter Life. I tell him I don't want to keep running from one church to another over our kids. I cry that our children are as fearfully and wonderfully made as everyone else's and that we shouldn't have to fear how they are treated while we are at church. He says sweetly, well, what if we go back and volunteer on the other Sundays. That way, we are filling a need in ministry. I calm down and realize that no matter how awful the kids were at church no one at Encounter EVER said or even hinted at anything other than love and acceptance there. Cassie was horrible a few times and they just loved on her and told her she was beautiful. So, what was I running from really? I hate what happened today, but perhaps my sweet, loving husband is correct. Why run from where we are accepted to somewhere where we feel judged by anyone in the congregation?
I know this, God's Cassie (and all the rest of us) are wonderfully and fearfully made and perfect in his love. God has used the Jennifer Knapp song that I am performing this evening to speak truth into my heart and soul. She is strong enough to stand in His love. So, here it is for you to enjoy and I'll try to video and post my performance for later.
Hold Me Know by Jennifer Knapp