Never Grow Up

Me and Makenzie circa 2002

This summer I’ve been working at a childcare center, and despite my love for working with older kids, I have still greatly enjoyed working with the little ones. I mostly work with preschool through 2nd grade. Being around them has helped me realize what it really means to be childlike. Sometimes our minds instantly think of a whining, crying child when we think childlike, but if you’ve spent enough time around really young kids, you know there is something to be learned from souls such as these. There’s a reason Jesus tells us that they are the greatest among us. So here’s a breakdown of some qualities I think we ought to imitate:

Number one: Purity. No mind is more pure than that of a child. If a child is not pure-minded, it’s because some evil and awful person ruined that, and Jesus says it’s better to tie a millstone around your neck and jump into the sea than lead one of these little ones to sin, and that’s all I’m going to say about that, because otherwise I will just be triggered. Main point here is strive to imitate their purity. “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the face of God.”

Next: Forgiveness. Some days these kids mistreat each other, and can be cruel to each other, but no more than a few minutes later they are best friends again. As adults if someone does not give us our fair share, or says something hurtful, or excludes us, we hold onto it. We take it deep into our soul and hold it there. And we hold it against them, or against ourselves. We hold on to it and allow it to weigh down on our ability to love others, and love ourselves, and even worse, we forget how to love God. Forgiveness is a huge roadblock when it comes to growing closer to Christ, but children seem to have a knack for it.

Third: Vulnerability. Kids are not afraid to be vulnerable, they are more than willing to express exactly how they feel, what they are thinking, with no holding back. With adulthood comes prudence, but that does not mean we should completely shut down all thoughts, feelings and emotions. As adults, we find it so difficult to express our thoughts, concerns, and emotions. I talk about this with my friends a lot because I’m really big on being raw and real, and the response I always get is “Oh, I’m only that way with Jesus.” But that’s a lie. Of course there are things that are meant to be kept between you and Jesus, but if you can’t even admit that you’re upset  because your dog died and you’re just faking it till you make it, I can almost guarantee you are not sharing your whole heart with Jesus. Actually, I guarantee it, because none of us are perfect, and it takes being willing to go to the depths of your heart daily to have a vulnerable and authentic relationship with Christ. In my mind I’m picturing those children at work who are crying and upset because they spilled their lucky charms or they were not allowed into some secret club some other 3 year old made and they are completely crushed. And they come to me just the way they are, upset and teary eyed, and they don’t care what anyone thinks at that moment. They are hurt and they are going to make it known, and then once they’ve been consoled and acknowledged, or the issue is resolved, they move on. If we did that in our prayer, man, imagine all the spilled lucky charms and ouchies that Jesus could clean up for us. He wants to do that for us, but we have to let him. Maybe the problem seems like something you can handle on your own, or maybe it seems so big that it would be a burden to God, but I promise you nothing is too big of a problem for Him. There’s no hurt that He can’t heal. But we have to go to Him. The kids that take matters into their own hands and chuck legos, or sit there with no cereal… well it doesn’t pan out so well for them. Be vulnerable, be real, and cry if you need to.

Vulnerability of course requires trust, which kids also exemplify well. Kids have no reason to trust me other than I’m nice and their parents trust me. If we were quick to trust God, the way these kids are so quick to trust me, imagine the depths we could go to with Christ. Trust also falls into obedience. Now some of you are probably like woah now, kids are not more obedient than me. Ha, well your wrong. Sure kids don’t always listen, but they trust instructions from their authority far more then you do. As adults we get into this habit of bending and breaking rules just because we can, and making choices because “I am an adult and I can do what I want.” Also, even the kids with behavior issues have respect for authority most of the time, but I think with age we’ve lost a little bit of that humility and obedience. Especially in a world that is slipping towards anarchy. Don’t fall for that bogus, do what your supposed to do, because you will out-grow rules, and the grapes of your parents, but you can’t out-grow God. 

And then lastly simplicity and the gift of being present. At work, I enjoy being around these kids because if you want it, you can have their full attention. They have no cell phones to glue themselves to, they are not worried about the bill they have to pay, or getting home to let the dog out, they are there and they are fully present and listening. And time to them is nothing, they just want to know when they get to eat, and when mom is coming, and most days they are having too much fun to even care about that stuff. They are just enjoying the moment. And to watch this kids react to all that’s going on in the world is actually kind of incredible. They haven’t even reached double digits yet and they have already watched so much happen in the world. Yeah, it worries them, and some express their fear has driven them to sleep with mommy and daddy, but they are so brave and they want to give everyday their all. They see life as something precious, and they still have the innocence to see all their peers as equals, as human beings. They look at someone and see a person, and they see a person with needs, dreams, hurts, desires, a family, they see someone to love. They don’t stereotype, use or abuse people. They see them as people. I mean have you heard the kinds of questions kids ask? They want to know if you have kids, a spouse or “oooo do you have a boyfriend?” They see family and love as something concrete. They want to know what you want to be in the future? They want to know your favorite things, give you hugs, and tell you how beautiful you are, and that they love you so much. If we loved like that, we would be closer than ever to loving like Christ. You should see the way they respond to someone getting hurt, they don’t care if they’ve never talked to that kid Jimmy before in their life, they are all going to want to help him and make sure he gets a bandaid ASAP, even if he’s not bleeding. Like seriously though. These kids are so pure-hearted and loving. 

I had one girl the other day get upset and she proceeded to say she hated herself, and I said well I love you and I want you to say something nice about yourself, and she scrambled off to pout. And then a few minutes later she came back with a big smile on her face and said, You know what Miss Mikayla, I thought of something”. And I said “Oh yeah? What is it?” 

“Jesus, loves me the way that I am, in my own special way.” 

Man these kids melt my heart and I am honored to work with them. 

“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”

Matthew 18:1-5

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