I had a really hard time coming up with a name for this post. “God Would Totally Understand If I Egged This Church” was a front-runner for a while. Because He would. I probably should have let the rage simmer down inside a little more before posting. But I’m pretty amped and not going to bed anytime soon.
We went to a National Night Out party at a church very close to our house. It was fun, everyone was friendly (maybe overly. hindsight red flag #1), and Avery had a good time. We saw that they had Vacation Bible School starting on Sunday. And 3 year olds were able to attend. Awesome. I wanted to sign Avery up at our church, but she wasn’t old enough yet.
I was excited for her to go. But my anxiety interrupted my fun. Like usual. I posted this picture to Snapchat Sunday night:
The smile! The excitement! Look how CUTE SHE IS!
So I left her there Sunday. And picked her up 2 hours later. I caught the last 15 minutes of the session. They sang songs. I thought they were a little boreing and might be over kids’ heads (HRF #2). But I tried not to be judgmental. Because I am when it comes to church and music. Avery’s teacher came up to me and let me know how much fun Avery had and how cute she was. Typical. Avery is a charmer. Everyone loves her. I was so relieved.
Avery was excited to tell us all the things she did. Jeremy asked if she did any art. Nope (HRF #3). But she played in the Jungle Room and learned verses about Jesus being the Good Shepard. Adorable.
Monday when I dropped her off, I started getting weird vibes. I honestly couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt like people were looking at me like I wasn’t one of them (HRF #4). But Avery was excited and I was being ridiculous.
I left and met a friend for a drink. I told her about my weird feeling. And verbalizing it made me feel it more. I was like, “she’s 3. Even if it’s kinda weird, she isn’t going to notice it.” I was trying to talk myself out of the feeling. When I went to pick her up, the feeling persisted. While I was there I even texted a different friend, telling her we will have to do VBS at her church next year because I got a weird vibe at this place.
Walking back to the car I asked Avery if she had fun tonight. She answered an enthusiastic yes! While driving home, I asked her if she learned more verses. And she answers, “We were playing chase and they told me sin lives in my body and God is going to take away my body!” Ans by the end of her sentence she is crying. Hard.
My head is spinning. Avery doesn’t just make things up out of nowhere. I fully believe 100% that they told her this. So much that she repeated it. Over and over. Who thinks that is even remotely appropriate to teach a 3-year-old?! And at VBS?
I try explaining to her that sins don’t live inside of you. That a sin is like being naughty and if you say sorry and ask for forgiveness God forgives you. Because God loves you. But she kept tearfully telling me she was still “so worried.”
When we got home I asked her to tell Jeremy what we talked about in the car. She burst out in sobs and tried telling him. The only thing I could make out was, “I’m scared of God.” And my heart broke. So hard.
We spent the rest of the night explaining everything to her over and over again. As lovingly as possible. She went to bed like her normal self. And I know in the morning I will have to answer her questions again. And again. That’s how 3 year olds work. I’m hoping to drill into her head that God loves us. No matter what.
I’m angry. At the jerks at that church, mostly. But a little at myself, too. Why didn’t I listen to my instincts? Because Avery was having fun. And my brain plays tricks on me. Would I have done the same in a different setting? How long would I have let my uneasiness linger before I did something? Have I been failing about teaching her about God’s love? Do we ever figure this parenting thing out??