This is an old blog post from Easter 2009. Ana was two and a half, Emma was one and a half, and I was tired. Boy, was I tired. Still, though, that season was not without some great lessons, and as we celebrate Good Friday and Easter this weekend, I hope that my lesson learned in the toddler trenches will encourage you today…
Tonight was our Good Friday service at the church. And, as sometimes happens at our church, our nursery worker was unable to be there, which means that the only nursery baby (Emma) had no one to watch her. There are a handful of amazing church members who consistently volunteer to watch the babies, sit with the children, take care of the craft closet organization, cook the entire church potluck, etc, etc, etc whenever a need arises. As true servants willing and able to meet the needs of the church, they often volunteer themselves out of ever getting to be in the worship service, and I reminded myself of this tonight when one of them graciously offered to watch Emma for me so that I could be a part of what was happening in the sanctuary. I told her that I didn’t want her to miss out and that I was perfectly happy spending the hour back in the nursery.
And I was. I got my Bible out and attempted to spend the time reading and reflecting on Good Friday and what Christ did… but then Emma needed her diaper changed. And Ana wanted to play with some blocks that were on a really high shelf. And both girls needed water in their sippy cups. And both girls wanted me to pick them up and hug them and give every single bit of my attention to them. In my selfish way of thinking, I started to resent the fact that these little blessings make reflection of ANY kind nearly impossible. I got so absorbed in all the many things the tots were needing/wanting/demanding/expecting that I didn’t notice one of the deacons standing at the door until he held out the Lord’s supper to me and said, “I thought you might be back here.” I thanked him for remembering me, even though I was tucked in the back corner of the church and hadn’t even gotten the chance to see anyone else. He shook his head and told me that it was a shame I had to miss the service. I shrugged and said, about as unenthusiastically as I felt, “Well, that’s just the way it is in this season of my life.”
All of a sudden, Ana jumped right in front of the door, threw her hands in the air, and shouted, “HE’S ALIVE!” The deacon looked at her and asked, “Who?” Without even stopping to think it over, she threw her hands up in the air again and yelled, “JESUS! HE’S ALIVE!” This wasn’t exactly out of the blue — she and I had been discussing Easter, looking through a storybook on the events of that week in Jerusalem, and talking about what it meant for us all. She had gotten very excited earlier in the week about “Jesus missin’ from da tunnel!” (the tomb looks like a tunnel in the book), then Him showing up a page later with “hurt hands” but very much “ALIVE!” But this little outburst in the nursery? Was spoken and shared without my prompting, without my asking any questions, without even speaking about Easter. I was just feeling sorry for myself, and my tiny Ana-bear? Was just super excited that Jesus is alive!
The girls and I went to the sanctuary for the very last hymn, “Were you there?,” and as we sat on the back row, listening to everyone sing, I whispered the words to Ana, explaining in toddler terms what the song meant. When the service concluded a few minutes later, one of the senior adult ladies came by to hug the girls, and Ana, happy for the listening ear, launched into the story of what Easter is all about. From the “mean” people who killed Him, to the stone on “da tunnel,” where His body was laid, to “Petah!” who rushed to the empty tomb to find Him, to the angel who told the good news… and finally to Jesus Himself, “ALIVE!” and going up to heaven. My tiny tot, who has spent very nearly every minute, hour, day, month, year of her life with a very selfish and unholy me, learning from my sorry example of how to love and honor Christ — my tiny tot, actually understanding the Easter story!
Oh, how I needed to hear her tell it. How I needed to be reminded that I’m in this sometimes nutty season for an eternal reason. On good days, I can rationalize that a home full of children is a mission field in and of itself, but there just isn’t much fruit in these infant and toddler years to make me believe it on a bad day. Praise God that even when I can’t see it, His Word and His Spirit are working in the hearts of those who I hold most dear. Praise Him that the cross loses none of its power to save and transform lives, even when the truth of it is being communicated by a homemaker in Oklahoma. (Who spends most days wanting to pull out her hair because she has no idea what she’s doing. Praise Him!)
Rejoice, y’all! Or, as Ana would say, “Jesus! He’s alive!”