As a parent I know it is my job to teach my children – about God, life, friendships. But, in this job, I learn so much from my kids. They teach me perhaps as much as I try to teach them. May I share some things I have learned/observed from them recently?
It’s good to ask questions
If you’ve ever been around a preschooler, you know that the entire day is a barrage of questions. Where did the moon go? Why is it daytime? When will I be big? But that’s how we learn – by asking questions! Perhaps if we took the time to ask good, thoughtful questions, we would be astounded by the amount we learned!
Take time to notice the details
When I take a walk with my kids, we don’t move very efficiently – but we discover so many interesting things. Little eyes and little feet and little hands are all much closer to the ground and so keenly observant. We discover lines of ants, sweetgum balls, berries that fall from trees, dogs that bark, piles of dung, and so much more. They are not concerned by an arbitrary measure like time – but instead revel in the brightness and excitement of life all around them. They notice the magnitude and creativity of God in a way that many adults have lost.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made… Romans 1:20
Sometimes, all of us need a good cry, a nap and a snack
I always think of Elijah in the desert (1 Kings 19) – but it’s true of all of us. We are more inclined to be irritable and irrational (and also have meltdowns) when we haven’t met our basic needs. It’s ok to start over, for big and little people. In fact, it’s wise to say, “we can talk about this again after…”
Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be
Psychologists have phrased this differently: Don’t magnify the problem.
But Jesus said it best: Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ~ Matthew 6:34
I love when Gideon explains to his sister: “Gwennie, the parks are closed right now because of the sickness. But after the sickness, the parks will be open again. And the splashpad!” And in the innocent, good natured way of children they accept what can’t be helped and go on to their next activity. (Of course, this was also after the initial wailing and gnashing of teeth! They are human after all)
But, it is a true principle. Often we can avoid a good deal of stress and worry if we don’t make the problem bigger than it is.
Laughter is good medicine
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22
You know what one of the best sounds in the world is? Children giggling together. It brings beauty and joy, even to a heart that is broken or hurting. I like to tell people (because it’s true) that our two children do better ministry than Chris and I combined. There is nothing quite like watching and listening to genuinely happy children playing and enjoying life. Their laughter is good medicine for me too.
It’s ok to play in the dirt
My two children love to play in our gravel driveway. They scoop the rocks into buckets, into their wagon and dump it back out. They make mountains and roads. They drive over it and through it. They get lost, engrossed in their creative and active play. And at the end, they are grimy, gray and beautifully messy.
They’re also worn out, glowing and healthy. The dirt can be washed off. But the enjoyment was priceless. Sometimes, if we adults are willing to get a little dirty ourselves, we will find that there is great joy to be had in the tasks in front of us.
Be sad about the right things
One of my children’s favorite Bible stories is David and Goliath. They love it in every form that I read it to them: out of our illustrated children’s Bibles, out of children’s picture books, from my Bible app for kids on my phone – this story just speaks to them.
We recently have been reading about how David also played his harp and sang for King Saul and both children get so sad and worried every single time.
Does King Saul obey God now? (as if the story might change!)
Why is he making bad choices? (why do any of us make bad choices?)
Doesn’t he love God?
They are worried about the right things – obedience, good and bad choices and how God looks at us. And then, predictably, they are jubilant when David makes Goliath go BOOM! God is indeed the victor, every time.
Everybody is better with a hug
“Gwennie, you are my best friend because I love you,” I heard Gideon tell his sister the other day. They will sometimes stop their play and go to each other and hug. Or when one is feeling sad (or got in trouble), the other will come to give a hug.
Touch is powerful. Think about the many wonderful things Jesus did – healing, miracles, raising from the dead. But one phrase is threaded repeatedly in the gospels: Jesus touched them. He touched the untouchable people – those sick or suffering from leprosy, those outcast from society, those lonely and without a place to belong.
He touched them. He knew that we all need to be touched with love – by each other but especially by a Savior.
So today, my friends, may you and I be blessed to be more like a child.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18:1-4