She screamed at the sight of the nursery door.
She screamed louder at the sight of the nursery worker. She screamed loudest when I handed her over and walked around the corner, waiting to see if she would calm down enough for me to attend the church service.
No such calm ever came.
Every Sunday, Jeff and I would take turns. One of us would stand in the foyer, holding our fussy baby, while the other would sit in the sanctuary, listening to the message.
Occasionally, Brynn would last in the nursery a record ten or fifteen minutes. So Jeff and I would sit in the back and try to sing. But mostly, we watched that little black box near the ceiling, waiting for our assigned number to start flashing. It always did.
This went on for months.
I honestly thought we should quit going to church for a while, at least until this fussy baby of ours would stop frightening all the other babies.
My sweet Brynn had a more sensitive disposition than my sanguine firstborn. And she wasn’t used to being cared for by anyone other than Jeff and me. As a full-time-stay-at-home-mom, I was the primary caregiver. Shoot, I was the only caregiver.
During this time, we sold our house and moved to the home we’re in now. This move necessitated finding a new home church. We learned that a small church was meeting at a middle school across the street, so we thought we would visit.
When we approached the makeshift nursery—a room normally used for sixth grade math—the nice nursery lady smiled as we put our names on the sign-in sheet. Since Brynn didn’t recognize this place, she hadn’t started screaming yet. But we warned the nice nursery lady that Brynn was a screamer, so we would sit in the back row in case she needed us.
The nice nursery lady said that she’d had a few screamers in her day and not to worry.
Jeff and I walked away, knowing the nice nursery lady had no idea what she had just gotten herself into.
Of course, within minutes, Brynn started screaming so loudly that we could hear her from the back row of the cafeteria/sanctuary. So we quickly went to the nursery door. The nice nursery lady was gently rocking Brynn, and she smiled and waved for us to hold off a few more minutes.
I had just fed Brynn, so we knew she wasn’t hungry. So we waited.
Another five minutes passed. When we peeked in again, we saw the nice nursery lady walking back and forth, bouncing Brynn lightly. We motioned from the door that we would take Brynn since she was obviously inconsolable, but the nice nursery lady said she was fine. She wanted Brynn to get used to her.
So we waited in the hallway some more.
An eternity later, Brynn stopped crying. Then, of all things, that baby of ours had the nerve to start giggling as the nice nursery lady shook a rattle.
Jeff and I just shook our heads and returned to our seats.
There on the back row, I started to cry. For I realized this was the first time since Brynn was born that I had anyone besides my husband “take over” for even a few minutes.
For the next year and a half, Brynn continued to cry in the nursery if a new helper was in there. But whenever the nice nursery lady was there, Brynn would stay—happy and content. A bond had been formed.
As a mom with small children, without any outside help or support, I can’t express how much this woman in the nursery ministered to me.
I can’t remember a single word from any of the sermons I was able to listen to, but I remember her sacrifice—her willingness to love a stubborn baby and bless a tired mom.
During those baby years, I volunteered in the nursery a lot. But I must say: When you are taking care of babies around the clock—literally 24 / 7—then sometimes the last thing you want to do is volunteer in the church nursery.
This is when the older women in the church can be such a blessing to the younger women.
As much as the nice nursery lady blessed me, and other moms like me, she also showed me the kind of person I want to become. When I am older, and I am tempted to think I am well past those “needing-to-work-in-the-nursery-years,” I want to remember that there will be other new moms, who just might need someone to love their babies, so they too can have a brief respite during the sermon.
* * * * *
There are heroes in our churches, hidden amidst the pews, serving behind the scenes. These heroes aren’t necessarily the ones preaching powerful sermons or singing spectacular solos. They’re the ones who hug kids and welcome strangers. They’re the ones who invite you over for blueberry pancakes.
They’re the ones who hold your fussy baby and let you hear an entire sermon.
Do you know a hidden hero in your church?
Is there someone you could be a hidden hero to?
On Mondays, I am writing a new series called “Hidden Heroes,” recalling the ones who have ministered to me personally in heroic ways.
Today, I am thankful for . . .
114. nursery hands, holding fussy babies
115. gifts of time, the chance to hear a message
116. strangers loving strangers
117. when quiet comes
118. baby giggles
119. a chance to rest
120. an example to follow