Updated: May 16, 2020
There are times in life where you take that bold step to pretend to sleep, in the hopes that your parents might have pity on sleeping beauty and leave you to your dreams or you accidentally on purpose wake up late in the hopes that your parents follow through on their 'threat' to leave you behind if you are not ready for church by super early o'clock on a Sunday morning. If you lived in my house, you would very quickly learn that you could never be that brave and waking up at super early o'clock on Sunday was just a way of life. Seriously, I thought all children around the world shared my apprehension at stuffing myself into the pinkest & puffiest dresses, frilliest socks and shiniest shoes. Little did I know, not all children experienced this, but for sure, all the ones I knew went through that same Sunday Morning routine :)
Now, I don't share this as a horrible childhood experience. Far from it. Maybe the pink dresses were a little bit scary. Other than that, my Sunday morning routine was the norm for my siblings and I and it was where I got my church-going 'habit' from. Growing up as a daughter to devout Christian parents who never missed a church service, I was bound to get into the habit of going to church on Sundays. At such a young age, the experience of church-going (apart from the super early mornings) was fascinating and exciting to me because my parents made sure church never ended on a Sunday. During the week, we regularly held church at home. This was essentially our family devotion time which, on refection, I would say I probably enjoyed more than church. There was always that freedom to ask questions, focus on texts we liked and the joy of seeing my siblings falling asleep and being asked about what had just been said. That last part was probably my favourite :)
Sunday school was where we read stories in the Bible and got to us our appropriately battered, but not from reading, Good News Bible for Kids which almost everyone in my class had. We were eager to show off our knowledge of Bible stories to show how serious we were and hopefully get a reward after class. Usually in the form of some sweets. My curiosity about the characters in the Bible grew and led my dad to buy me a 10-book set of all the stories in the Bible which took me a few months to read through. I remember the excitement of receiving that surprise package and looking back now, the immense gratitude I have towards my dad for setting me on this journey. Those books came with me to church as I showed off the pictures of the characters we'd read so much about and being the only person in my class to have such books, I quickly became somewhat of a celebrity. This only increased my eagerness to get to church on a Sunday, to learn about even more characters and see what extraordinary things they had gone through.
Although we learnt about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, they were never as real to me as the characters in the Bible and I suspect this was due to the fact that I was a bookworm growing up (still am) and stories were my doorway into my own world where my imagination would run wild. Still, I appreciate those early years spent in church because they ignited a fire in me which I believe can never be quenched. Like I said before, church never ended on a Sunday and even on the weekends, my mum would find other prayer events/gatherings for us to attend, which I actually enjoyed. I don't remember my siblings joining us on many of those outings and I don't remember coming across many other children at these gatherings either. I say this because being surrounded by women (mostly mothers) who seemed to have a lot of experience in praying and could pray for days, I got in the habit of copying their behaviours (pretending to speak in tongues, clapping whilst praying, pacing angrily) in an effort to show that I too was praying hard.
I was the star of those shows. It seems there were plenty of women who noticed my behaviour and congratulated my mum on raising such a God-fearing child. Don't get me wrong, my prayers were very real and my mum would always explain those prayer points to me so I knew what I was praying about. What I didn't realise at the time was that those teachings were preparing me for life. I like to think those prayers were banked for when I needed them the most. In addition, my dad also taught me the importance of thanksgiving during prayer and during those particularly lengthy prayer points, he taught me to pray, 'Thank you Jesus'. Another habit I picked up as a young child. Even with all that, God wasn't as real to me then as He is now and all that does is remind me of the infinite greatness of the Almighty God we serve. Hallelujah!
I'm sharing this because as part of my #churchseries, you will hopefully see just how much I have changed and also how much value those early years added to my life and gave meaning to Proverbs 22:6.