How Returning to Kids’ Church Caught Me Off Guard

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I wasn’t prepared.

My daughter broke out in a sweat on our drive to church. She rolled down the window to cool herself while I sat shivering in the back seat. Any other day in March, it would’ve been fine to let the spring air in. But today, a bitter cold breeze blew from the arctic.

The last time we visited this church was before the pandemic hit. We liked it for the great music and superb teachings but mainly for the children’s programs.

Unlike our home church, they offered the opportunity for kids to leave the main service and work with the children’s pastor and other little people their same age.

They also had a nursery.

The last time we visited this church, my daughter walked my 3-year-old granddaughter to her classroom while I carried my 6-month-old granddaughter to the nursery.

Being back in the building brought a flood of memories.

But when we entered the main sanctuary everything looked different. There were chairs instead of benches. Blue carpet instead of orange. New pastors on the stage.

Then the biggest difference hit me.

When it was time to bring the children to their rooms, my daughter walked my 5-year-old granddaughter to her classroom. But I stayed behind. I had no granddaughter to carry.

Instead, I stayed in my seat in the sanctuary and cried.

My daughter never returned after dropping off my granddaughter. Instead, she went to the bathroom and threw up. She stayed there for the entire service.

After 2.5 years without my little granddaughter, I did not expect to be sidelined by such intense sorrow. I didn’t expect my daughter to have such a visceral response to her heartache.

Grief does that to you. It takes you by surprise.

It overwhelms you when you least expect it. It ambushes you in an innocent moment. It interrupts an innocuous event.

I do plan to return to this church. But next time, I will be prepared.

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