When my child told me Church HURT…

Today is Easter Sunday. And most families are at church.  But we aren’t one of those families…

I’ve always tried to keep my faith and my blog separate so if this isn’t for you that’s ok, you can just skip over it. But if you are a person who’s struggled in your faith as a parent of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, stick around here today you are in good company. I find that on Christmas and Easter I wish that Sensory Processing Disorder and church worked together better. But they just don’t.

So here’s a little bit of our background, Sensory Dad so happens to have been in church leadership and has a degree in theology. I studied enough theology in college to know more than I should. We were extremely active in a church for over a decade. After Miss Sensory was born going to church became increasingly more challenging.

There was before church meltdowns and barely making it to the church.

There were two parents on extreme edge the entire time thinking she could explode at any second.

There were the Sundays that my husband would be up in front of the church and I would wonder if I would have to leave with Miss Sensory and he’d have to figure out a way home.

Then there was the post church meltdowns.

I won’t even get started with the looks. Or the time, I barely left the nursery room and overheard the staff talking about my parenting. There was a lot more than just Sensory Processing Disorder going on during a Sunday morning that made me want to leave the church, but that’s another story.

One Sunday morning as we were trying to get Miss Sensory ready, in the few words she had she told us that Church hurt her. The sound. All the people. The smell.

It was in that moment that my husband called someone to fill his place for that morning and he resigned that night. It’s been a year and half since that day and if this is anything like where you are I want to tell you that it’s ok. If you wish there was some level of normal so you could do something as simple as go to church on a Sunday morning here’s what I want to tell you…

God is bigger than a building, he’s bigger than four walls and a Sunday morning. Even though in our culture we get told that it’s a necessity to Christian faith, I want to tell you that you can worship God at the kitchen sink. He doesn’t care where you are, what he does care about is your heart. He has entrusted you with a dear precious child who’s wired a little differently and often the mainstream Church doesn’t fit well with our kids. Like so many other things in our life we need to adjust to our kids.

I know it’s a hard thing to let go of. But I will tell you that expanding your faith beyond a Church and a Sunday morning service is a challenge on its own and I can tell you that your faith can grow deeper and stronger.

In a perfect world there would be a church that would fit all of us but in our family we’ve always been more focused on what really matters. It’s not about what church we do or don’t go to. It’s about God’s grace and love for us and others. And it’s about our faith. I’ve learned to live out those two simple concepts more outside of the church than inside the church, even as leadership.

If you wish you were in church this morning celebrating the resurrection, remember that it doesn’t matter if you aren’t inside a Church building. Celebrate in your home and your heart, right where you are.
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5 thoughts on “When my child told me Church HURT…

  1. Nancy Suttenberg

    I am on your corner. When my children were very young, we had been going to mass every day. My life had difficulties and it was I who felt better being there. They never s3mrd to mind, but they were 2 months and 16 months so it was not like they were going to tell me.

    Forward to being the granmom of our Miss Sensory,who also has other diagnoses as well, and I have been saying this to my adult mother of Miss Sensory for some time. God is a forgiving and all knowing God. He would never want one of his Blessed children to suffer. Man runs the church and often sneaks a glance as if the parents are doing something wrong. No one knows your child like her mom and dad. She looks to you for help and comfort. Do what your git tells you to do. Never fear, the Lord is with you. When you teach kindness and patience,and tolerance, you are teaching God’s way. No matter where, just teach her love and kindness. God will understand and approve. Be brave my Sensory Moms and Dad’s. God will work with you to sort the rest out when the time is right.

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  2. Ruby

    I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I admire your courage and you and your husband’s decision to do what is best for your family. It’s hard for someone who hasn’t experienced a sensory disorder in themselves or their child to understand the overwhelming stress routine outings can impose, but for those who know what it entails, your decision makes perfect sense. Keep trusting Him to lead you and give you wisdom where you are at. Thank you again.

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  3. Jenna

    I completely understand. God has blessed us with a small church home with loving understanding members and the Senior minister has an autistic grandson. We tried a larger church that had more of a kids ministry but yes my son told me he was scared and that large children’s church ‘hurt’ the noises, too loud, too many kids, he just was not having it. so we went back to our little home church, some days there’s 2 kids some days there’s 6 or more. There’s only one children’s minister, so if they’re out there’s no children’s church and we deal with regular church, sometimes we last 5 mins and sometimes we last the whole time. For my family (no judgement on your family, we each do what’s best for our own families), my son LOVES Jesus and LOVES going to the little church. It works for him. so I just encourage anyone to try a few things, see what works best and yes God will meet you anywhere. <3 <3 <3

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  4. Christine

    Thanks for your usual transparency on this issue as well. My husband was leading a small church group & our sensory-seeking son was a “distraction” to his ministry. So I started taking the kids to another group. My son has had meltdowns every year during Vacation Bible School, to the point that I can’t even volunteer like the other moms because I’m on-call in case of emergency. Almost every week is a battle to take him to Sunday school because he’s convinced his teacher hates him. And another boy told him he was too noisy (he is sometimes!). Last week I just didn’t have it in me to do all the pep talks; we skipped Sunday school. I have found that our home activities have been really important. The kids responded well to lighting Advent candles, for example. And sometimes watching videos or online church services. It’s a little strange for me, but if we don’t have to worry about flinging a fidget 3 pews ahead or yelping after accidental microphone feedback…. Jesus Himself asked for the kids to come tp Him & to not hinder them. I like to remember he didn’t say “neurotypical kids only”.

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