I write a lot about what I’m learning in life. In my early twenties, I thought I knew it all. I didn’t need any advice, and I was confident I could find my own way. In fact, in my late twenties I spent time passing on my “wisdom” to the youth I worked with. I thought I was so “together” and mature. I ignored most of what my parents told me and labeled it outdated and irrelevant. I made the wrong assumption that the older I would get, the more “together” and “wise” I would become. I’m 40 (something) and I’m a self-proclaimed mess. It didn’t happen.
I used to think I knew everything, until one day I realized I know absolutely nothing. In my mid-thirties, I started having kids and I realized I was clueless. I called my mother often for her “outdated” and “irrelevant” advice. I also apologized to her, a lot.
So, I’m still learning and growing. Is that what maturity looks like? The ability to recognize you can still learn and grow and that maybe, just maybe, I really have NO clue what I’m doing in life?
So, here I am listening and learning from the world around me. I SHOULD be at an age where I start teaching others, especially considering I’ve been given three little students in the form of my kids. And yes, I do like to think I’m teaching them some things about life, but mostly THEY are the ones teaching ME.
I have a seven-year-old who has the wisdom of a seasoned saint. Like me, I’m guessing she will lose that to her own arrogance in her teens/twenties, but for now, it truly blows me away, sometimes.
We can learn from the simple truths of children. It’s why Jesus said, “Come to me like a little child.”
My sister passed away a few weeks ago. There’s more to that story, but, for another day. My daughter is old enough to understand and, so before my sister died, I knew we needed to have a conversation about it happening soon. I didn’t intend to have it at this particular moment, but it just happened.
We were riding in the car, talking about the coronavirus, when it suddenly came up. She asked me about the coronavirus and why she couldn’t play with her friends. I made some off-handed comments that went something like, “well, I think the whole thing shouldn’t be such a big deal, but there are others who don’t agree. Your dad has a business that makes me want to open things up quickly, but there are doctors and nurses who see patients and have a different view. So, they are saying we shouldn’t go out because we might get sick.” I’m driving and thinking nothing of this little chat.
Somehow, and I don’t even know how, the subject of my sister came up a few minutes later. I explained to her that her aunt was very sick and I was afraid she was going to die. I wanted to be honest with her so it wouldn’t come as a surprise later.
“I don’t know why we prayed for her to get well but it didn’t happen. I’ll be honest, Kate, I don’t always understand God,” I said. “It makes me feel sad and I wish I had answers, but I don’t.”
I knew I wasn’t doing a good job of it, but as her mom, I wanted to comfort her in a time of sadness. I wanted to explain it in a way that she could understand and feel peace. I wanted to find the right words to make her feel safe and reassured. I was an idiot.
“Mom, it’s o.k. you don’t understand. Don’t you see? It’s just like you were talking about the coronavirus a minute ago. It’s the exact same thing. You see things one way and others see things a different way. Don’t you see it’s the same? You see things one way, but God sees them another. We can’t see things the way God sees them. Don’t you think maybe God wants Aunt Kari with Him? He wants us to be with Him. And don’t you know that she can do all the things she hasn’t been able to do in a long time. She will be happy. Can’t you be happy for her? It makes you sad, but just think about HER!”
Oh, how ignorant I am to think I might teach a child anything.
It’s just simple truths the way a child sees it. It’s uncomplicated and unfussy, free from the chains of a world wrought with unforgiveness and jaded experiences. No wonder a child can see clear truths. They aren’t polluted yet. Their vision isn’t cloudy and their hearts darkened by the life experiences that we use as excuses to become hardened and uncaring.
But children…they are trusting and uncluttered, full of faith and promise.
This week a young black man in our own state made national news when he was killed. Once again, as I try to make sense of such a tragedy, it’s my daughter who speaks the truth I needed to hear.
My daughter asked me once, “what is God’s favorite color?” I looked around and saw the green grass and the green trees. “Green?” I replied. “I sure see a lot of that!”
“No,” she said wisely. “I think it’s the color of people’s skin, because that’s the thing He loves the most.” How simple. How uncomplicated. How is that a child can teach me about the love of our Creator God and also teach me about loving others?
If only we could all be a little bit more like children. I will keep listening and learning. I will teach her how to not burn waffles and how to tie her shoes. She will teach me how to live full of faith and promise. She will teach me how to laugh and how to find the positive in the world around me. She will teach me to toss off the chains that bind and dance in the middle of a crowded street. She will teach me how to love with abandon and dress in whatever clothes make you happiest. She will show me that life is beautiful and kind and that humanity is worth believing in.
If only we could all be a little bit more like children.