I was doing my BSF lesson this morning and I wanted to write all about this one question that is on there, but then I remembered that I was a volunteer in the BSF children’s program last week and I had wanted to write about that. So let’s just pretend it is last Wednesday afternoon. Before I left BSF and went on to the rest of my day.
And forgot what it was like to be a toddler.
Something I haven’t told you about BSF is that once a semester you are encouraged to volunteer in the children’s department. I find that generally BSF-ers don’t care for this requirement, and tend to sort of grumble about it without any regard for the fact that you, sitting right there in their discussion group, actually have a child in the program.
So if you are prone to guilt, like me, you feel bad that this person, who doesn’t want to be around your child (or any other children), has to be a volunteer and you wish you could help them out of it.
Usually, it’s not necessarily that BSF-ers don’t like children. It’s just that it takes so much to get to BSF every week with your lesson done and it seems like a waste to have to miss the entire day of Bible study to play with toddlers, who, by the way, already have two BSF children’s leaders in their rooms with them.
But I am here to tell you that it is not a waste.
This is one of those annoying BSF rules that I can actually defend. Now I know that since I would often rather be with children than adults, maybe being a volunteer in the children’s department comes a little easier for me than some. That being said, I still think it is a valuable use of anyone’s time. And anyone can do it. It’s not like in the other places in your life where you might be asked to work with children where you have to prepare activities or even lead lessons. When you volunteer at BSF, you just show up. Bring along your little childlike heart.
You go in. You sit right down on the floor and you say something like What are we doing here? Oh goody! Blocks. I bet I can stack ten of these up. Can you?
And for the next two hours you don’t have to do anything but be a well behaved child. When the leaders say it is time for songs, you pull the chairs over and sing songs. When they say it’s time for the bathroom, we all line up and go to the bathroom. When it is time for the story we do little finger plays with our hands and then put them in our laps and be real real quiet and listen to the story, which is always some portion of what we are actually studying in the adult class at BSF. (This was especially fascinating during the year that BSF studied the minor prophets.)
You move with the class through all of these little 10 minute increments into which the BSF masterminds have segmented the BSF children’s program experience. And I truly believe that it works beautifully because children, especially small children, really crave order.
And orderly it is. If a child gets out of line, the director is called in to handle the job. She gently sits with the little demon that won’t sit still for the 10 minute story time, patting his back and encouraging him. She tells him the answers when questions are asked so he can exercise his turn to talk. Notice that this is not my job as a volunteer. Nope. I’m still just sitting there. Maybe sometimes someone sits on my lap. I don’t get to answer any questions.
Towards the end is my most favorite part. It is something that revolutionized how I spent my early mornings with my toddlers when I had them in BSF.
It is quiet time. It’s not nap time. It’s quiet time.
It is when the leaders turn off the lights and you lie down on the ground with your head on a paper towel (your pillow) and close your eyes and talk to God. In my view, quiet time is just another word for shavasana. And so I lie down in corpse pose (with my head on a paper towel, you know, to protect it) and enjoy the quiet 10 minutes. Praying. Thanking God for these women who love these children every week. They pray for these children every day. They prepare for these children’s classes with as much or more rigor than we prepare for the adult class, and they still do the adult lessons too.
In the midst of a week that was swirling around me in a way that felt uncontrollable, I was completely still on the floor in a room full of toddlers. 2 year olds, fidgeting and sucking their thumbs. Talking to Jesus.
The best bit is when it is your turn to get up from quiet time, the BSF teacher comes around with a little puppet that taps you on the cheek and she says, God loves you, Alison.
Oh yes, she tells me too. Just like the others. And I was glad to hear it. I always am.
He called a little child and had him stand among them.
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.