For as long as I've been a member of my church (8+ years) I have served in our children's ministry.
Throughout that time period I have worked with every age group - and I will admit that the babies are my least favorite group.
It grosses me out enough to have my own baby's body fluids on me, but having the body fluids of another child who is not related to me in any way? It's almost too much to handle and my gag reflexes are worn out by the time church ends. After a couple of months in the baby room I immediately requested to be moved to children who can wipe their own body parts.
More recently I have been teaching the smaller children who aren't yet in school, but can tell me if they need to use the restroom on their own. This is perfect for me. They don't talk back yet and they don't wipe their snot on me. Win. Win.
I will admit there have been several Sunday mornings where I wake up and wish that I could sneak into church late, sit down in the back, sing some songs and leave, without serving, without caring, without reaching out.
When I have these thoughts I recognize them as selfish and try and stop them. But there have been times where they have gotten the best of my attitude.
This past Sunday was my week to serve and I was in my class teaching the lesson. As I read the story of Mary riding a donkey to Bethlehem to deliver the baby who was in her stomach I said "And do you know who the baby was?" While some exclaimed "JESUS" others said "A BABY", not every child in that class knew who Mary was carrying and that is completely normal. They are four and five year olds, fresh lives, soaking in everything around them like a sponge. So I explained to them that she was carrying Jesus who is a gift to us. The best gift ever.
And somewhere between asking them to stop talking, to please pay attention, sit still, stop touching your neighbor, get your hands out of your nose, don't eat your glue etc. It hit me that these children, were just a little bit younger than the 20 children that were tragically killed on Friday.
I looked at these kids and for about the 18th time that weekend started tearing up. They didn't notice because they were too busy playing, or coloring or bothering the kid next to them, but I looked at them and thought of the children who were doing all of the above when their life ended because of the decision of someone else. While it made me sick to think about, it also changed my outlook in what I do every Sunday.
Why do I get so worn out teaching a children's class for ONE HOUR EVERY OTHER WEEK? Why is it so exhausting to me? Because it interrupts my week? Because of what I would rather be doing?
For one hour I am given the opportunity to pour into the lives of children. I am able to TEACH them who Jesus is, I am able to tell them the Christmas story, and the story of the Good Samaritan and all the other true stories that so many of us grow up with.
Why do I see this as a burden when I should see it as an opportunity? These aren't just children, these are lives. Human beings who will hopefully grow up and live a full life and help others. And I have a chance to be yet a small/tiny part of their life to teach them something that will hopefully become a huge part of their life and who they are.
While those 20 little lives ending is absolutely awful and unfathomable it has shown me once again how precious life is and how each and every single life matters. Even when it seems that they aren't listening or they are bored or they are just a naughty child who doesn't care, it matters. They matter. He matters. She matters.
I always say I want to be a light for Jesus to every person I meet and when I say that I tend to picture my peers, people I encounter in the grocery store or a new guest at church or my friends. Not so often do I realize that being a light includes every age group - even the little children who seem to slip under my radar often. Even though it seems that they have the whole rest of their life to grow up and hear the gospel, God-forbid they may not, and I have been given the opportunity, THIS MOMENT to share with them what has changed my life.
And now, instead of feeling burdened by my task of teaching a class every other week I am going to see it as an opportunity. To share the light I try to live by everyday. To the little children of this world.