We have a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl in our household. They are in a fully immersed stage of make-believe and dress-up time. Cole runs around in Batman boots, a Spiderman costume and a fireman hat. He carries a mesh, laundry bag behind him and loudly proclaims that he’s going to “get you with his spider web!” Norah, on the other hand, has recently found an obsession with princesses. It really doesn’t matter which one, seeing as she’s going to make you change her into a new “princess dress” every 20 minutes. She twirls and then squeals every time Cole runs past her with his laundry bag (excuse me, spider web). I’ve always loved seeing a child’s imagination set loose with creativity, but watching it in my own children is such a gift.
I’m a stay-at-home mom running a small business. Many days my attire only requires a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. I love what this daily uniform signifies. It’s a symbol of my ability to be with my little people and the role of “mommy,” it’s a dress code that allows for hours on the floor and in the backyard, and it’s a uniform pieced together for sweet work in a safe nest. I love this nest. I love the protection. I love the innocence. However, I’m reminded this is only a season on the days of the week where business casual is my necessary dress code. In today’s world, changing out of my “nest clothes” and into something adult can feel like putting on armor for a world that has turned into very unfriendly territory.
I turn on the news (almost always a mistake) and see stories of local heartache or violence, national uncertainty and political chaos, and I can be tempted to retreat into a fearful corner of existence or let the worries of the world crowd out the beauty and imagination God has gifted us. Every time I read another article, listen to another newscast, or see another social media opinion, I feel that safe nest being threatened, and that innocence being chipped away. Some days it can be hard to find anything positive in a world that seems so negative.
This past week I stood in the early voting line at a local precinct. No, I am NOT going to talk about politics in this post, but what I do want to talk about was the sweet scene I saw in front of me. In a line full of people wearing their business casual, I saw a woman standing with her son. This young boy had decided to try out his Halloween costume a few days early. He stood there in his superhero garb completely oblivious to the solemn mood around him. He was cheerful and happy, smiling at any person who would glance his way – a vividly colorful picture of life contrasting a line of serious and grim adults.
I thought about the innocence and wonder of children. At what age do children start to lose those characteristics in order to become a responsible adult, a good citizen, a grown up. When does maturity morph us out of being free spirits in awe of the world around us, and into serious warriors ready to take on a hostile world? When will that happen to my children? When did that happen to me?
A familiar scripture gently interrupted those thoughts, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, NIV).
That’s something to ponder. In our timeline of life, we are to be growing and maturing, and yet Christ tells us to be like little children. What does that mean? I know Jesus doesn’t want us to be immature believers, or to be apathetic to the needs and serious world issues around us, but at the same time, I know it’s not his plan for me to mature myself out of remembering he is Father.
I feel challenged to make certain that in my efforts to be a strong, mature adult, trying to stand courageously without faltering, I don’t lose sight of my number one responsibility…to be a child of God…to trust in His will and His plan, and to follow His voice without hesitation.
What do we know about children? A few things come to mind: they trust, they look to their parents for instruction and guidance, they hope, they believe that God can do anything, they have no cynicism, they are carefree and yet still dependent, and they love easily. I guess my hope is we all haven’t completely grown up and out of these qualities, and that we’re able to shed some of our mature, adult skin, and trust in our ultimate authority. I hate to think of the day we wake up and realize the worries of the world have rendered us totally devoid of any sense of childlike wonder or adventure. I believe God instills in each of us dreams that seem bigger than life, and hopes that enable us to believe those dreams just might come true. I think we have a God big enough to allow us to keep our superhero and fairytale princess alter egos tucked away in the imaginative parts of our souls. We can be adult parents to our own children while still being uniquely created children of our Heavenly Father!
We are to be reflections of God to a lost and hurting world. I think I need to constantly ask myself, what and whom am I reflecting? Our God is not boring. He is not stoic. He is not gray. Do others get a sense of the beauty and splendor of my Father when they see me, or do they see something entirely different? What does my life say about my Father?
Some days we need to remind ourselves that in order to truly excel at being “mature adults,” we first need to remember that God requires us to be children, His children, above all else.
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