If you’ve gone to church on a regular basis, you’ve likely seen a small child escape from their parents and make a b-line either for the door or to the front of the chapel. Every time I’ve observed this scene play out, while sitting comfortably on my church pew, I silently smile to myself and feel sorry for the tired, embarrassed parents chasing their child down the aisle.

When I was younger, this scene annoyed me, thinking the child’s behavior was a distraction to my Sunday worship. Now that I am a little bit older, I don’t consider it an annoyance, instead, I find it a grateful interruption. I smile knowing that parents are willing to risk embarrassment by bringing their small child to church, instead of leaving them home for their afternoon nap.

Attending church means more than just sitting in a congregation, listening to a sermon, and being spiritually uplifted. To me, attending church means spending time with your family, learning and growing together. It means claiming the bench at the back of the congregation to avoid disrupting the rest of the congregation when your child decides to throw a tantrum in the middle of the sermon. To me, attending church as a family means that being together is the most important thing—not what anyone might or might not think when your child decides to act out.

I know that the day will come when I will have children of my own, and when that day comes I know it will be my child running down the aisle, and I’ll be the embarrassed parent following close behind. When that day comes, I hope other parents and church patrons will be understanding, perhaps even smile to themselves as they remember being in my shoes.

And someday even farther down the road, my future children will have children of their own. My wish is that they too will teach them the importance of attending weekly church services, sitting together on a church pew and being spiritually uplifted.