When I was in my early thirties, I had three young daughters to raise in a new town where I knew no one. I was a stay-at-home mom and spent most of my time at home. When I decided to take my girls to church, I was also excited for myself. While they were in their designated classes, I would be in my own. Most of my conversations were with my children or over the telephone. The idea of actually having conversations with someone closer to my age had only been a dream for several years. I looked forward to making new friends in church and growing deeper in my Christian walk.
Things didn’t quite work out the way I had imagined. It seemed the moment I walked into our new church, I was “volunteered” to do what I did best, take care of children. I was the new member, so I didn’t feel I could say no. But I was disappointed, to say the least. I was starving for interaction with someone older than the age of seven. It had also been some time since I had sat in a church pew and refreshed my faith with stimulating sermons, music, and prayer. I was even missing the lessons in Sunday school class that regular churchgoers often find boring. I needed a place where I could fit in with other adults. I told myself that maybe this was my calling for now and dove into the adventure of teaching youngsters.
The first class I had was a Wednesday night class for preschoolers. I not only wanted to do lessons that they would enjoy and have fun with, but I also wanted them to learn a valuable lesson about Jesus, just as I had done at their age when I was taken to church by my favorite aunt. I was certainly comfortable with the age group. Knowing from my own experience as a mom that these little ones were like sponges.
I devised a new lesson each week using a set of bible story cards I had at home. For example, I did the story of Jesus calming the storm and walking on water. I printed out copies of a picture for each child to color and glue different media on for effect. First, I would sit the kids down and tell them the story. They would become very quiet as they listened to me, their little faces letting me know that they were absorbing every word I shared. I was amazed at this at their age. It was true; small children are little sponges. They absorb everything they see and hear.
I had a lot of fun while I taught that little class, but I began to burn out after a while. This just wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t want to be selfish, but I had to fill the empty tank I was carrying around. It was my turn to be a sponge, and so I was. I began attending service on Wednesday nights instead of teaching or caring for children. I particularly loved the Wednesday night sermon because there was no singing or socializing like on Sunday mornings. It was more of a long bible study. A lesson for us adults. I loved it! I needed it! It was filling my empty tank, just as church should do.
I miss the little sponges I taught on those Wednesday nights so long ago. I often wonder how or where those kids are now. Do any of the lessons I gave stick with them? I’d like to think so.