The first place that anyone typically sees of a school is its office. Most schools take really good care to ensure that their front offices exude a warm and welcoming atmosphere. (Those that don’t are probably not the best-attended schools enrollment-wise).
However, we rarely stop to think about the second place people tend to see as they enter our schools. Before I launch into this fairly esoteric topic, allow me to digress to my initial visit to my current church.
I have only been a member of two churches in all of my thirty-some-odd years on this planet and one of them is where I’ve spent 99% of my “church time” since childhood.
So, I’ve been a member at my new church for a little over a year now. This church is huge (physical size and membership) – just the type of church I shy away from! But as soon as I entered (almost), I knew I wanted this place to be my church home. It was made for me. I won’t go into all the details here as this is an educational blog and not a spiritual one. (But if you have questions, send them this way!)
I keep my nieces and nephew fairly often because I am just a kid person – don’t think I could live without them. My oldest niece, a pre-teen who is in her experimentation and rebellion stages, attended church with me (hesitantly)a couple of Sundays in a row. On the first visit, she asked if she could step out of the service to use the restroom. (Again, this is a huge church and I really wanted to say no, but…) I gave her permission.
The service lasted about an hour and a half and during that time, my niece never returned to the inner sanctuary. I was really worried about her and asked my oldest daughter, a teenager, to go check on her toward the end of the service. My daughter came back and reported that my niece was sitting in the restroom.
“In the restroom?!?!?!?!” I inquired in disbelief. “Is she sick? Vomiting?”
“No, she’s just in there on her phone,” was my daughter’s response.
On the ride home, I asked my niece why she spent the entire service in the restroom. She replied that she was still deciding on whether or not there was a god and did not really feel comfortable being in church. I asked whether she had felt comfortable in the restroom, of all places.
She replied, “It’s like a palace – it smells good, it has couches, and it was quiet!”
And so when I signed up for a ministry in my church, I joined the Refresh Team. We clean the restrooms after each of our three services and re-stock supplies, ensuring that the restroom is a warm and welcome place for all visitors to our church.
Our restrooms are typically the second place visitors see when they visit our schools. For many students, restrooms offer more sanctuary than our classrooms and offices. They are places where students can scream and cry in frustration, grief and excitement and even contemplate the larger questions in life.
Keep your restrooms clean! You never know who may need that space. You never know – YOU may need that space!