Lessons from the Nursery

Every time I find myself pulled into the infant nursery at our church I learn something.  I may not always want to be in there initially, but I never regret it.

A little background.  I’ve been on staff at my church for 9 years now moving from K-5th grade director to now the Family Ministry Director.  In those 9 years I’ve done just about every job there is to do in children’s ministry and in a few other places as well.  I usually spend my time on Sunday mornings with a MBwA (manage by walking around) to see what’s going on in the various departments, speaking with volunteers, meeting parents, etc.  But I rarely if ever “fill a spot” anymore.  Except in the nursery.  When we have an overflow of babies and more than the usual number are unhappy, I’ll step in.  And like I said, I never regret it.  I always learn something and today was no exception.

When I opened the nursery door the 2 volunteers were happy to see me and quickly pointed me in the direction of Susie Q.  Yes, I’m changing the name to protect the innocent.  She was in the arms of a volunteer crying.  He was eager to pass her off to me.  Susie Q has a reputation of being a “volunteer hog”.  They told me she “requires”  someone for the entire hour, her own private one on one.  Susie Q’s about 18 months old, curly hair, scoots around on her bottom to get to where she needs to be and had 2 words to say today, “momma bye bye”.  Repeatedly.

With Susie Q in arms I began to wander around the room looking for something to distract her from the fact that momma went bye bye.  I suggested a book, “no”.  How about a baby, “No”.  Ok, maybe a music making toy, “NO”.  Ok, well I’m going to sit down near the toy shelf and see what I like since you don’t seem interested in anything.  By this time I’d stopped listening to Susie Q’s answers to my questions and was really just talking out loud to myself.  I sat down with her in my lap and began to look through the toys and play with them.  After a few minutes she began to find interest in the animals from the Noah’s ark set.  We talked about the animal sounds, put the animals in the boat, out of the boat and in the midst of all this she would momentarily forget about her sorrow.  But when it did come to mind, she would put the back of her hand on her forehead, close her eyes and wail.  Picture Scarlet from Gone with the Wind in all her melodramatic glory and you’re there.  As the swooning wails grew further and further apart I began to move Susie Q from my lap, to the floor in front of me and eventually I got up and sat in the rocker next to her.  With that move, she let me know in no uncertain terms, I had crossed the line.  I had taken it too far and she didn’t like it.  And there it was – the swoon, the wail and then – the peak to see if I was going to give in.

I had just come from the service where I had heard a talk on life Transformation.  I’d just heard how our thoughts, influence our behaviors, which influence our attitudes, which influence our actions, which ultimately influence our life.  And now I was seeing it played out.  Here was Susie Q who definitely thought that she was the queen of her universe.  This thought influenced her behavior.  Each time I moved away from her, even when she was occupied and content, she would throw her hand to her head, close her eyes and wail.  This behavior also included an attitude.  Yes, at 18 months, she had an attitude.  That peak to see if I was going to give in was the first indication.  And then when someone made a remark about her behavior she gave “the dreaded look” that I usually see reserved for the likes of tweens and teens .  That attitude influenced her actions keeping her from enjoying the toys, the books, the music, the rocking horse and even snack time.  She was too busy trying to maintain her position as the queen of her domain.

Susie Q had some definite thoughts about her world and who was in charge.  And those thoughts influenced her behavior, attitude, actions and her life.  I enjoyed my time with Susie Q.  She helped me take a look at myself.  How often do I throw my hand to my forehead, close my eyes and wail in objection to my surroundings and circumstances.  Seems like I did that just last week, maybe not quite so dramatically, but I was unhappy, the world was not revolving around me and my plans, and I let those around me know it.  And yes, I was peaking to see if someone would give in and fix it and line up with my expectations, wants and desires.  And if not someone within ear shot, then God should line up.   Thoughts.   Thoughts can steer us in very powerful ways. Keeping them grounded in truth, not my self-centered perception of reality, will have an impact on my behavior, attitude, actions and ultimately my life.

Like I said, I never regret my time in the nursery.  There’s always a lesson there.

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