My toddler is in one of those terrible sleeping patterns recently where he is wide awake at 2 a.m. He literally hands me my glasses from the bedside table and tries to pull my feet to the ground while he demands "we-weal" (cereal) or "bubbas!" (bubbles) or "shocka!" (soccer). Please note I am not soliciting sleep-training advice and anyone who has heard my past sleep deprivation woes knows that I am well aware of all the methods that supposedly make some children miraculously sleep 12 hours nonstop. Y'all enjoy.
As for me, I will continue to calmly explain to the sweet little guy that it is time to go back to bed and that the bubbles and soccer ball are "night-night." I usually give in on a middle-of-the-night snack only to keep the rest of the household asleep when the wailing begins in the outrage that said bubbles and soccer ball are "night night." Yes, I know I am implicit in the pattern making.
But, to get to my point...in those wee hours of the morning as I try to not engage too much with him, but instead offer snuggles in the dark pre-dawn hours, I often find myself thinking and praying for YOU and your children, and all of our Glenn Church family.
I am praying for the other parents who are undoubtedly up with children - due to illness, or a bad dream, or some Glenn Nursery conspiracy to blow bubbles and play soccer all night long. I am praying for those I know are restless as they worry about their marriages, their jobs, their teen or young adult children facing challenges.
I find myself thinking about how can we as a church family support one another -- how can we continue to let our members and the community know that we are safe space for all of our LGBTQ+ church family and community members? How can we end the stigma of talking openly about mental health and how can we inspire one another to keep showing up at church to worship, to teach our children Bible stories, to learn Bible stories ourselves, to volunteer to pack bags for Snack in a Backpack, to visit homebound older adults, to give of our time and money to support all the wonderful work we do as a Glenn Church community?
In my helplessness to force my child to go back to sleep, I feel a similar helplessness as a minister to force people to "be" the Church. And just as I know there are tons of successful models for both sleep-training for children and church-growth for congregations, honestly even the proven methods in both endeavors don't seem to fit just right for my family or our church family.
So you'll find me at 3 a.m. most mornings snuggling my little one back to sleep with a full belly and a lullaby being softly sung in his ear. Some days I might be more cranky than others, but I hope my children know I will always be here for them. And you'll find me (and countless others) here on Sundays (and many other days/times) with ministries as varied as cereal, bubbles, and soccer. Some days we may be more cranky than others, but I hope we'll know for ourselves and proclaim for others, that God's unconditional love, support, and proverbial snuggles and lullabies when needed are found here in the Body of Christ, the Church.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Susan Pinson, Minister for Children and Older Adults