Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanks for your prayers ... One of Deborah's writings from the past: Become Like a Child

"I tell you the truth. You must change and become like little children [in your hearts]. If you don’t do this, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Most of the time I find myself taking life too seriously. I put up walls of protection, tighten my shoulders, and grit my teeth. Why do I find it so hard to become like a little child? Is it the fear of rejection? The need to be loved? What did Jesus mean by this verse?

Many years ago, my family and I went to a friend’s mountain cottage for a few days vacation. It was a warm, glowing, full-of-personality place. After unpacking the car we decided to take a little walk. Although it was dark, the snow was so bright we didn’t even take a light. As we walked down the hill, I plopped myself down in the snow. Then lying flat on my back, I began to laugh, swinging my arms and legs up and down. When I stood up to shake off the snow, I saw the beautiful imprint of a snow angel. “I have always wanted to do that,” I said. It made me feel like a little child.

When I went to the dermatologist for a precancerous spot on my nose, treatment meant going through some awful looking stages. One day in the Dollar Store, a little girl said, “You gotta bobo on your nose?” I said, “Yes, I do.” When she looked at me with great concern and compassion, I told her, “It doesn’t hurt. It will go away soon.” She smiled and said, “Oh.” While most adults seemed to feel awkward about it, the little girl was open and honest. Why can’t we be like a little child? Children just set their hearts out there.

My grandchildren have taught me a good deal about being a child. They love to laugh and create. One summer afternoon we made biscuits together. Soon the flour was all over the floor, the counter, and us. When we finished, one of them wanted to decorate with sprinkles and birthday candles. I said, “Hon, we are not making cake, we are making biscuits.” The children didn’t care. I gave each one a ball of dough to create his masterpiece. We even lit the candles and sang “Happy Birthday” to each one of us.

Time with my father when he was older and very sick made me think more about the idea of child-like. Both he and my grandchildren being similar in many ways: very dependent. Open and honest. No walls between them and you. No reputation to try to uphold. They share love boldly. They share their hearts freely. In thinking about my dad and my grandchildren, I wonder if God intended for us to enter this world as a child and leave it as a child? The question is, “How do we, during the time in the middle, live our daily lives, when needing to be so much like them?”

Brennan Manning says in “Souvenirs of Solitude,” that the “child” represents our authentic self. He says, “I am a unique and radiant center of personal thought and feeling. Rather than living a routine existence in mere conformity with the crowd, the emerging child reminds me I have a face of my own, gives me the courage to be myself, protects me against being like everybody else, and calls for that living, vibrant, magnificent image of Jesus Christ that is within me, waiting only to unfold and be expressed.” He also says that you don't really share yourself until you share your feelings. That this is the secret of love.

Father, Son, and Spirit, Your love makes me want to be a little child again. I want to laugh and sing and dance and run with You. Please give me a child-like faith with enjoyment, dependence, and confidence in Your love. Believing it, receiving it, and giving it away. Help me not be guarded, but love openly and freely. Teach me again, I pray.