Spending two delightful weeks with a 3 year old and a ten month old reminded me of many things I had long forgotten such as: small objects left on the floor end up in a baby’s mouth, the casual mention of a fun activity can instantly become an idee fixe, the special skill of changing a diaper on a twisting baby, the speed at which a baby can crawl to the stairs and climb up to the top unnoticed, and perhaps most importantly, children need naps so that adults can rest.
Childhood is a unique country, with its own boundaries and climate and rules and delights. The national anthem is titled, “I Want” with ten verses, each one sung slightly louder; the national flag is a well-loved blanket, and the currency are pebbles and seashells. It is run by a benevolent dictator. Bribery is not unheard of. Justice is often swift.
I kept thinking of what Jesus said in Mark 10:13: that we need to receive the Kingdom of God like a little child. And as I became reacquainted all over again with what children are like, I could see that spiritually speaking. I have a lot to learn from them.
They live in a timeless place
*They have short memories. They don’t hold grudges.
*They are more focused on the process than on the results of what they are doing. They don’t mind failing. They try again and again and again and again.
They know who is boss [most of the time]
*They are utterly dependent on their parents for the day’s schedule. They don’t wake up and ask themselves “What am I going to do today?” They go downstairs for breakfast and find out what’s on the agenda.
*They ask for things all the time. They don’t filter their requests. They know who has the money.
*They aren’t wild about strangers but it doesn’t matter what country they are in or what language is being spoken as long as they are with their parents.
Their state of being makes a big difference
*They are grumpy when they are tired.
*They are grumpy when they are hungry.
*Too much candy is not a good thing.
*Their emotions are transparent. You know when they are happy and when they are sad.
On the other hand:
*They get up early.
*They don’t mind making a mess.
*They get dirty a lot, and have to take a bath every day, but they don’t mind. Bath time is fun.
Simple pleasures are the best
*They love stories and songs.
*The sillier the better. They like to laugh.
*A cheap trinket lasts five minutes. But they can spend hours playing at the beach. They delight in primary materials–water, dirt, stones, the wind, birds, and blocks.
Life is learning
*Their days are one big discovery.
*They are curious, and are always asking why, but their parents often have to simplify the answer so they can grasp it.
*They imitate their parents and learn from them.
When I go back over the list and substitute myself as the child and God as the parent, what a picture it gives of how I am to relate to my heavenly Father: asking, getting clean, lots of fun and discipline too, and learning new things–like how to be more childlike with God. That’s something I’m never going to outgrow.
What aspect of being childlike do you need to develop more? For me, two weeks in kidland made me realize again that I am a physical as well as a spiritual being, and the two are not separated by a rigid wall. When I’m tired, irritation and grumpiness and anger spring up like weeds. Being well-rested makes it much easier for me to be gracious and charitable, and keeps me in a better place to experience the love and care my Father wants to give to me. It’s no accident that one of His loving commands is to take a sabbath day of rest. As a wise pastor once said, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep.”
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! I John 3:1