“No, I Don’t Love Babies!”
This past June our second child, Baby C, was being baptized in the church. It’s two weeks before our scheduled baptism and my husband and I see another baby being baptized. It was beautiful. And the Pastor says to the older sibling, about 4, “do you love Jesus”. “Yes I do” the sibling said, proudly. My husband and I exchange a glance. We are toast. Our daughter is three and I can promise she won’t answer this way. This is not going to go well.
So that next week when I am meeting with my Pastor (and supervisor) about our upcoming baptism, I remind him about the sweet moment with the sibling who proudly loves Jesus. He tells me he will do that for us too. I look at my shoes. This is so awkward. I AM THE YOUTH PASTOR. Here I am, in his office, asking, no begging, please don’t ask my daughter if she loves Jesus on stage. We don’t know what she will say. Or actually, we do. “NO”.
“Oh, she will say yes” he says. He knows her pretty well, it’s true, and has even had some conversations about faith with her. As much as you can with a three-year-old anyway. “Maybe” I said. “Really though, if it’s okay, I’d like the questions to stick with us.” I am literally paid to teach people about Jesus and can’t get my three-year-old to say “I love Jesus”. He agreed to honor our wishes.
We practiced at home leading up to the baptism, just in case the Pastor went rogue. Every time without fail my sweet, defiant, strong-willed, opinionated, smart, fierce, girl would confidently say “NO, I don’t love babies” (Jesus hasn’t aged yet in our toddler mind). Maybe I should also mention my other pastor used my daughter as a sermon anecdote earlier in the year because whenever she saw a nativity she would hide the baby Jesus because “she doesn’t love babies.” I could not publicly handle this “I don’t like Jesus” attitude twice in 6 months.
The morning of the baptism came. I didn’t want to be “that” mom and remind my Pastor, so I didn’t. I just prayed. A lot. “Please, God, don’t let him ask my daughter if she loves Jesus. Please. I know I teach my teens not to bargain, but I’ll work so hard for the Kingdom.” Desperate moms call for desperate measures you know.
He did ask her, but not on stage. He went and visited her in the nursery that morning while I was leading in my ministry. He had a one-on-one talk with her. Apparently, she told our Pastor that we wanted Baby C to love Jesus too so he was being “bathtized”. My Pastor said to her, and do you love Jesus? She said “yes”, then promptly left to play with horses.
When Baby C was “bathtized”, Big Sissy V stood on stage with us and held our hands. Maybe she would have said yes if he had asked. I do wonder sometimes.
Being a parent in the public eye of the church, while trying to shepherd other parents is hard. I feel vulnerable. If I do it wrong, maybe they will think I’m an imposter. I probably deserve a little more grace than I give myself. That’s what I would tell another parent anyway.
God gave me a spunky, confident, strong-willed, opinionated, smart, observant, fierce, little girl. And someday, that will serve her well. Especially if she ends up to be a woman in ministry. Until then, you can find me on my knees. Anyone have some good knee pad recommendations?