Friday, October 10, 2003

ok stay with me now

a few days ago we decided it was time for nathan (my 23 month old son for those keeping score at home) to move from a crib to a big bed. actually he kind of decided it for us when he climbed out of his crib and dove rear-first (thankfully) onto the floor of his room. so we went through all of the rituals necessary to prepare him for the trauma of moving from his safe, barred sleeping accomodations to the wide open spaces of a real bed. we moved the special things (silky, blanket, puppies, bears). we had a big "going-to-bed" party with his siblings and K and me. we put him in and covered him up and prayed with him and left on tons of lights. . . we did it all -- get the idea?
anyway, he's done great over the past few nights. he doesn't get up (except for the morning we woke up to find him sleeping with the dog in her bed) he doesn't give us much grief about going to bed, and he's sleeping well. the wierd part though is that when i go in to check on him between the time he goes to bed and i do, he is always in some odd position with covers everywhere but on top of him. sometimes he's sideways on the bed with his feet hanging off the side, sometimes he's "upside down" with hi feet on the pillow, sometimes he's curled up at the foot of the bed around one of his "friends". the only place he never is is sleeping the "normal" way with his head on the pillow and the covers over him.
so last night as i was putting him back the "right" way for the fourth time, i got to thinking, "why doesn't he sleep on the bed like 'normal' people?" then it hit me - maybe he doesn't know that there is a right way to sleep in a bed. maybe he thinks that since he had freedom to spin around all night in his crib, that's what he's supposed to do in the big bed, except there is a lot more room in which to do it. maybe i'm driving him nuts because he keeps waking up on this pillow thing when he'd rather be sideways with his feet hanging off. maybe he is doing bed the right way and i am the one causing him all of the trouble.

get ready for the leap - stay with me now.

so as i'm thinking about my son and his sleeping oddities, it hits me that maybe nathan and his nocturnal gymnastics are a picture of something bigger. as i was thinking about making him conform to the normal position of sleeping, i thought about how much of church (almost any church) is about causing people to conform to the "normal" (read: their) way of doing life and faith and church and God. this church thinks they are the way because they _________________ while the other church is misguided because it doesn't. not so much saying that those people "over there" aren't going to go to heaven, they are just going to be in for a real shock when they get there. most of my church experience (until recently) has been less about giving individuals space to be who God created them to be and more about shaping individuals to be conformed to the image of the particular church in which they happen to be hanging out. in fact, it seems like a lot of the church marketing stuff that goes on today is about helping people find out why they would fit in to abc hope community church of life of faith in God in Christ as opposed to downtown baptist church. most churches don't just push for conformity within the walls, they actively seek and recruit those who conform to their image to come and join them and further solidify wht they are trying to create. most christians don't help things either because they move around during their "seeking God's will for a church" phase looking for a place where they "fit in" -- more conformity!
ok , so what am i saying - all of this stuff is bad? not really. i do think we should have a level of comfort in our church surrounding. i do think there is a need for different kinds of churches for different kinds of people. i'm just wondering if maybe within our individual church communities and even more so in the greater Church commmunity, we can give each other some space to spin around in bed a little bit. i mean really, as long as we stay within the bounds of the "bed" of christianity, does it really matter if we have hymnals or screens, ties or sandals, bands or organs, homilies or talks, . . .?
thinking about our church, i want to make sure that each of us feels the freedom to be who we are in Christ (or out of Christ for some of us). i would love it when the time comes for someone to talk about the "kind" of church that jacob's well is if all they could say was, "they teach the bible and follow hard after Jesus, but they are all so different it is hard to characterize them". i pray that my kids grow up in a church sulture that allows and encourages them to be who they are and helps them see how God will use that for his kingdom.
so there you go, for what it's worth. go to church and be who you are and when people ask you what you think you are doing, just tell them that a two-year-old is teaching you how to be yourself. as for me, i'm just going to keep covering nathan up with a blanket and let him put his feet wherever he pleases.

sleeping with my feet off the side.


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