Everything echos in that place. It's lovely, with stained-glass windows flanking the pews, a glorious-sounding choir, and my personal favorite... a real organ with someone who knows how to play it. These Sundays are interesting.
Eric and I greatly look forward to visiting his parents' home church. While we adore our church and its culture, we enjoy visiting this place that also happens to be the church that planted our church. Not to get complicated or anything. But with Ryan, something as simple and commonplace (well, in Texas anyway) as going to church with your parents can be a nail-biter.
As I made my way toward Dad, I couldn't hear Ryan... which was good. But I couldn't see either. They could be out in the foyer calming down.
They came into view, sitting snugly together while the rest of the church stood in worship. This is a battle we don't fight. In our own church, usually one of us stands while the other sits with Ryan. If he's doing really well, we can both stand. Ryan, however, will generally sit or lay in the pew or chairs.
The hardest thing about worshipping here is the acoustics.
Our church is quite a bit smaller and younger, so our building, while adequate and beautiful in its own way, is not even close to as large as this place. And with hard floors and a high ceiling, seemingly every little pin-drop echoes.
Insert child who has a tendency to blurt random things at inappropriate times, and you've got a recipe for stress.
I must say that he's been doing better at this at church as a whole. Even at home, I'll be working on something at the kitchen sink and he'll holler numbers out of nowhere. Then there are the random times he just starts yelling, grunting, and smacking his chest out of nowhere. We're talking frequently, folks. Not just every now and again. All. The. Time. From quiet to BAM! Hope you brought a change of pants, Mama.
When my baby sister was little and I took her to church, I could whisper to her to be quiet and she'd either obey or copy my whisper. No big deal. Of course, I could also give her a look from the choir and she'd clam up and elbow her friend to do the same... at five years old. Richie and Maelynn pretty much follow suit with that as well. But my big boy? The only time he whispers is when he's answering a question.
Yeah. Handy, right?
Knowing all these things, I settled into my seat next to Ryan, motioning to Eric to stand with his Dad. I know how much it means to these guys to get to worship together. Ryan talked a bit, the usual, mostly robotic, "You will go to hotel/play iPad/etc." I did my usual lean over and whisper, "Stop talking or no *insert reinforcer here*." This time it was a ride on the elevator.
Then there was magic.
He began to whisper.
He matched my whisper for the first time. At eight years old, he figured out that this was a time to be quiet. That maybe he should lower his voice. The idea that he would hear my voice, note the rest of the room and the setting, and change what he was doing to match it is unheard of so far.
Most days we operate somewhere between survival, learning to enjoy everything just the way it is, and naturally enjoying what we have to live with and around. Long days, weeks, months can go by without a breakthrough like this, and there are times we deal with regression and lost skills.
But then there are days like this, when we are blessed with something that we had grown so accustomed to dealing with that we'd all but forgotten it could be any other way.
There is no formula to receiving a blessing like this, and there is no guarantee that tomorrow or today will hold another one of these amazing breakthroughs. If I believed there was a way to make things like this happen at will, then my life would look a lot different.
I can tell you that I never thought I'd be praying that my child would understand how to whisper. I can most certainly guarantee that I never thought I'd have given up on the objective of getting my child to whisper in the appropriate setting.
But I can also tell you that I never thought I'd have such great joy at something so seemingly simple and common.
Thanks be to God for the deeper hope that results in such deeper joy!
If you'd like to read more about our church experiences, click here, then here, here, and here. You never know... you might change a life.