Several weeks ago I was out of town on a trip. While I was gone Anne had her family over for supper one evening. While they were eating the evening meal, my 5 year old daughter Abby spilled some food on the floor, which in turn created a little mess in her area. One family member looked over at Abby and said, "Now Abby, what have we learned here?" Abby quickly responded, "I haven't learned anything, my daddy is my teacher and he is gone right now." Anne told me of this funny incident when I got home. We laughed together over how a little child's mind operates at times in such a different way than ours. In Abby's thoughts, she knew that I was her homeschool instructor and she did not learn anything without her daddy teaching her.
Children see life in much simpler terms than we as adults do, we look at the complexities of life and many times are overwhelmed by what is taking place, and as well, afraid of what might happen in the future. Children on the other hand look directly at what is before them and work out the difficulty by seeing the problem for what it is. In their innocence, they face each situation with honesty and a gentleness that we adults can learn from. Two children seeing each other for the first time on the playground somehow know whether they like each other or not, and they say what is on their minds with no pretense, "I like you Billy!" We as adults on the other hand view others with scrutiny long before we commit to any friendship, we have a history, that is as adults we put up barriers of protection around ourselves that don't allow us to be hurt by others. We must be absolutely sure how much we can reveal to a new acquaintance, because we have been hurt in the past by revealing too much too fast. What has happened to us through out the years that we have lost that innocence and trust with each other?
Last night Anne made an observation about our son Will. We had been talking about how each night Will comes to our room before he goes to bed. He builds us some lego toy or elaborate game for each of us to play with while he is asleep. After Will has gone to bed, we sometimes smile to ourselves over the efforts that he puts into these games that he constructs for us. Last night after building one of these games, Will gently smiled while handing it over to us and then, when leaving, he turned to us and his face shown with such an expression of satisfaction and happiness. When almost out of sight, Will then turned around at the last second and came back to us. He wanted to share more information on how to play his new game and at the end of this new set of instructions, he slowly turned away walking into the shadows with a big smile on his face.
Anne said that it was wonderful how Will sees that providing us with games to play brought him so much joy. She then said something that made me think. "Will feels safe in doing this for us, knowing that we will not reject him or laugh 'at' him for his efforts of love." That got me thinking in how we as parents and guardians of children have such an awesome responsibility to protect our children and to make them feel safe and secure in who they are and what they do. This affirmation that we give them each day only reinforces their own identity and allows them the chance to become a trusting adult, that looks at each individual with open eyes that first sees the best in that person, rather than the worst. Fear is not a part of their world as children, when they as little ones know that a father and mother first accept them unbarred and love them, without any conditions placed on them for this acceptance. Our children then can grow into our world looking at their futures with hope and confidence.
I was blessed to marry such an adult, Anne is trusting of others and cares for them. Although she is not naive in how life can be painful and hurtful, she knows that caring and love can overcome these things. I watch how Anne interacts with our children and how she elicits their trust and affection, and I have learned from her things that were alien to me. She is ever supportive of our children and uses each challenge not as a road block, but as a reason to trust and believe in an outcome that is good. I see that her faith as an adult was given to her as a child by her parents who love her unconditionally and would do anything for her. The strength and hope that Anne possesses was first instilled in her by her loving parents. They patiently taught her the intricacies of life and how to trust and accept others, by first seeing what is inside them and the potential each individual has. I have been married now 11 years and look at this time with Anne as an honor and privilege to be her husband. I have learned so much from her in being able to see life again through the eyes of child. I have also learned trust, compassion, openness, and caring from Anne. 'I am' seeing life more like a child than I ever have before.
I am reminded what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 18:3, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
My journey in becoming an adult was ever present in my mind when I was a child growing up, that was what I strived for. Now I see that my goal is to become like a child once again. Through Christ's Holy Spirit, he teaches us these things that we must know and do, to become that what we cannot on our own. By sitting before Jesus and asking him to teach us how to be a child again, our wonderful journey begins.
|Pickwick Mill Falls|