Heart Matters: Surprised by Sunday School


For years I’d floated through life with a high-profile job, a nice home, and a great husband. I thought I had everything. Then I discovered I was pregnant.

Everyone told me life would change. “Sure it will,” I agreed, dismissing their warnings with a shrug. I never really believed life would change that much.

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But as all new “parents club” members discover, life didn’t just change — it upended. Along with my complete lifestyle and priority overhaul came some stunning realizations. The first and most profound: My gentle but steady departure from church had to change. Suddenly, as I studied my child’s innocent face, the value of my religious upbringing was paramount.

Good and evil, right and wrong. These concepts took on great importance to me, especially as I watched my child sleeping or held him close. Life’s great issues plagued me. I agonized through commercials imploring viewers to sponsor impoverished children with sad, empty eyes. I fretted over crime reports on the evening news. I scoured studies about kids’ drug abuse and sexual activity. And I worried. Yes, life had changed.

Once my son was old enough to begin Sunday school, I knew that was where he needed to be. In his first year, I attended every class under the guise of needing to stay close to my clingy 3-year-old. But in all honesty, I think I was more eager to see firsthand what was happening in Sunday school. What were they teaching kids, and how?

My childhood Sunday school experience was negative. I still can’t quite remember what I learned or did there. What I do remember is my humiliation and frustration in first grade because I couldn’t memorize the Lord’s Prayer. My mother worked with me diligently, but my brain simply wasn’t one blessed with powers of memorization. I’d go to Sunday school each week and freeze when it was my turn to recite the prayer. This seemingly small experience tainted my entire view of Sunday school.

But on my son’s first day of Sunday school, I was amazed at how different things were after 20 years. The friendly, interesting teacher got on the floor with the children. She spoke their language, and she explained concepts from the Bible in ways that made sense to preschoolers.

During our second year of Sunday school, I was shocked when the teacher asked me to become a regular assistant since I attended every Sunday anyway. I was unequipped. I didn’t know the Bible except for the stories everybody knows. Plus, I’d only planned to observe, not take on any “official” role. I thought it over. I would just be an assistant, not a full-fledged teacher, so I reluctantly agreed.

Now I wasn’t just an honorary member of my son’s Sunday school class — I was required to be there. And every week in my new role I learned more about the Bible and what it meant. As I prepared crafts to help preschoolers visualize and internalize the lessons, the stories of the Bible sank into me, too. Each Sunday, I worked in the background, listening and learning along with the kids.

And you know, life continued to change. That first Christmas in Sunday school meant more to our family than any other Christmas. We made a cake on Christmas day for Jesus’ birthday — chocolate because that’s what he’d want, my son insisted. Easter became a time of reflection and celebration, not just bunnies and colorful eggs. Thanks to Sunday school, our family truly focused on the real meaning of these special days.

So yes, life changed. Boy, did it. My priorities have been rearranged. Our family refocused. My life upended. But today my life is richer and happier than I ever could’ve imagined. As I journey along with my son to Sunday school each week, I’m filled with faith and joy that I’m helping build his life on God’s foundation. And there’s something else — I must admit I’m enjoying learning my Sunday school lessons right along with him.

Michelle Brosco Christian is the mother of two and a freelance writer in Bel Alton, Maryland.

Heart Matters: Surprised by Sunday School
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