Sunday, our boy blew us away.
First, you have to understand that, in our church, we love liturgy. No really. If you haven't given those beautiful words a thought or have dismissed them as cold and unfeeling and shallow, you really ought to reconsider. Anyway, there are times when we say certain things. Most are printed in the bulletin, but some things you get used to and know they're coming.
We feel very strongly that Ryan hears and takes in way more than he can put out in a way we can understand. That's why we want him with his age group in every way he can be. He is learning to participate in CE on Sunday mornings quite nicely. The biggest issue he has there is the transition to the worship service from CE. That's when we hold our breath, take his hand, get a drink at both fountains, dart through the crowded passages (GOOD TROUBLE, crowded hallways at church), and into worship to take our back-row seats. That's when we have to set the precedent that we sit, we sit in the chair and not on the floor, and it's time to chill.
Even in a loving, encouraging, accepting setting it's interesting to sit through church with Ryan. The whole time, he tends to chatter in his Ryan-stimmy-language, usually at a low level. Often he'll start saying the days of the week, months of the year, or just announce the date (or a random date) loudly. And if it's something like counting to 100, the alphabet, or the months of the year or days of the week, he will not stop until he's finished. We encourage him to whisper, but the fun part is he either doesn't understand what that means or he forgets. Likely he forgets, or doesn't like the way whispering feels or sounds. And we've learned that staying calm us key. Us, that is. The adults. The minute we begin to be the slightest bit paranoid about what others think, I swear he feels it and takes it as a cue to melt down.
We love church. We love the music, we love being with God's people, we love worshipping, and we want our children to learn to love those things. More than that, we want them to love God. So we do our best to educate them at home, but also bring them to participate corporately. There are times when I wonder if we're being too hard on him, if he's getting any of this or we're just making him frustrated.
Then, in the middle of no where, right after silent confession, Ryan said "hallelujah!"
I think only Eric and I could hear it. Well, Eric and I and God.
We stared at each other... in "didja hear that?!" mode... smiling from ear to ear, and then looked at Ryan, who was absolutely beaming.
He did it again, later, when we all said it together before communion.
So often I've been thankful for our children, and in so many ways. But more than anything, I'm thankful that they saved us from ourselves. It's funny... we thought, when we were having our children, that we'd give them this and that... stability, a good home, loving parents, etc. ... and while all those things are great and we do seek to give them to the kids, we had no idea how much God would teach us through our kids. No idea. Each of them brings something special to the mix, and each of them is amazing in their own way. Then there's Ryan. Through his challenges we have learned a ton. Helping Ryan understand and be involved in church has saved us from cold, stale religion for religion's sake, and certainly religion for society's sake. Have you noticed in the south that "good people go to church"? For the most part, that's true. And we were falling into that trap. We had no idea, but how we did church was actually more important than why we went.
Not anymore, and I hope it's not again. Our kids need better, and we need better. And obviously, Ryan IS hearing and IS learning, whether or not we can quiz him on what he did in CE. Someday he'll know what that one word meant to my... to our... hearts, and maybe he already does. But I know one thing... Ryan is the catalyst for our reassessment of what we believe and how (and if) we exercise what we believe, and we are inexplicably grateful for God's providence.
Hallelujah indeed, son!