>My sweet little Steven turned three this summer. It is really hard to believe that my “baby” is three. It is actually an odd spot for me. I’ve never had a three-year-old without having a younger child. I have had to make sure that I allow and encourage him to grow up! Before now, the three-year-old has always had to deal with some forced maturity because of my responsibilities to a younger child. Not Steven. I can still do much for him, and it has been a challenge to remember what a three-year-old is capable of doing on his own. This is especially a challenge with Steven because he is such a Mommy’s boy! He still wants me to do so many things for him. (Well, except for those things that he claims are big-boy things and wants full credit for accomplishing by himself!)
There is one really major change, though, that is not being overlooked for Steven. At this age, all three of my children have made a progression at church. Regardless of what things are offered at church, after the age of three my children have had to join me for at least one service at church. They have had to learn to sit through the whole service. They have been allowed to color or draw, but they have had to sit quietly. Doug and I desire that our children learn to be participants in a worship service, and it is our belief that this training needs to begin at an early age.
I was a bit nervous this summer as we approached this phase of Steven’s life. He is my first boy, and I was not entirely convinced that it would be possible to keep my sweet boy in church the way I was able to keep my calmer girls in church. And, I must be honest – I didn’t make the switch right when he turned three as I did with my girls. I just didn’t know if I had it in me to do so!
Reading through Proverbs this month has been convicting, though. So many verses emphasize the importance of parental guidance, leadership, correction, and discipline. I am responsible for Steven! I am responsible to teach him so many things. Doug is too, but when it comes to many things related to how to interact and behave in church, that falls to me simply because of Doug’s church responsibilities on Sundays. I cannot shirk my responsibilities simply because I think they might be difficult.
So, this past Sunday night – six weeks after what should have been his first Sunday in “big church” – I finally kept him in the service with me. I stopped making excuses. I stopped allowing him to make the decision. I kept him with me.
Yes, he was a bit fidgety. Yes, he did spend some time sitting on the floor drawing and coloring. Yes, he spent some more time pacing the floor back and forth in front of me But, he also was really, really good. He was quiet. And, he even listened! He knew what his daddy was saying! He didn’t grasp the significance of everything Doug was preaching, naturally, but he heard it. And a new level of his training and discipline began.
Today Prov 29:15, 17 profoundly reinforced Sunday’s decision. Diligence in discipline was rather exhausting on Sunday night, and I will admit that I was definitely ready to get all three children in bed! But, it was also so very rewarding. I did have the peace of mind and gladness of heart mentioned in verse 17. And, I know that will only increase as I watch Steven and my girls all three grow in an understanding of how to behave. I know it will bring wisdom and joy. I am excited.
It is not always easy in the here and now, but it is worth every minute. It is an honor and a joy to me to be the mother of Olivia, Angela, and Steven, and I look forward with delight to the children of God they become as they grow, learn, and accept discipline.