You don’t know me, but I know you. I recognize the look of exhaustion on your face as you juggled young children, a bottle, a pacifier, and a quest for an hour of worship. I’m familiar with the tone in your frustrated voice when you whispered to your husband, “Please take one of them.”
I know the expression that fears the judgment of other worshippers around you, afraid we will see misbehaving children. You are worried we will see parents who can’t control their young ones.
But as the mom who sat in her childless pew behind you, let me tell you what I really did see:
I saw joy in the sweet faces looking back for a quick game of peek-a-boo.
I saw pride in the older ones attempting to mimic your moves and care for the littlest one.
I saw curiosity as their young eyes turned to you taking in your every move.
I saw peace as they reached for you, to be held secure in your arms, their tiny heads nestled in the nook of your neck.
I saw a precious reflection of my own little ones, now so grown.
But what I saw the most was a mom and dad setting a significant example for their young children about the importance of worshipping even when it seems so far from easy, or even remotely holy.
And trust me, young mom in the next pew, the day will come way too soon when you will be sitting in a childless pew, no sticky hands poking you, no fussy ones distracting you, and you will see little ones close by, and your heart will hurt a little for the way the world spins so quickly. You will play a quick game of peek-a-boo with them, and smile as you realize you sometimes miss those crazy, exhausting days.
Then, you, too, will fight the urge to tell that young mom, “You don’t know me, but I know you.”
Or maybe you will write her a letter.