When each of my three children were toddlers, there were so many moments when I thought to myself, “I need to be more like them!” In Matthew 18:1-4 Jesus even drew attention to the attributes of children, and told us to be humble and teachable like they are! Here are six things about little kids that we as adults can learn from.
They’re IN THE MOMENT.
My husband and I went to P.F.Changs restaurant a while back and we had to wait to be seated. There were probably twenty adults and a handful of teens in the waiting area, and every single face reflected the blue glow of a phone screen. Once we were in the dining room I even saw people on their phones while eating. These people were AT the restaurant, but they weren’t really THERE…Their minds were somewhere else.
Kids are where they are…When they play, they’re so involved that they forget to go to the bathroom. When they eat food they love, they enjoy it so much that they don’t think about how much of the food is all over their faces. When they sing, they sing with all the volume their little bodies can muster. Maybe every so often we should do the same thing and just be where we are – no phones, no multi-tasking, no planning ahead. Maybe we should just enjoy what’s right in front of us instead of worrying about what we’re missing or what’s coming next.
They remember everything.
I’m always amazed at how my kids remember who gave them each and every toy that they have…They remember who took them for ice cream, which kid was sick yesterday at school, and the vacation we took four years ago. It makes me feel special when they remember things about our experiences that even I have forgotten. Remembering is a discipline for adults, and our brains aren’t soaking up information like those of little people, but we should make a point to remember what is important to us and to others. It makes those around us feel special.
They forgive AND forget.
There are days when I really believe that my kids are going to hate me. There are those impatient, short-tempered, pull-my-hair-out, just-yelled-at-daddy days when I’m pretty sure they’ll think differently of me. But they never do. They forgive me immediately! They never act as though I owe them anything, and the next morning they see a new day ahead of them instead of an awful day behind them. It’s hard to forget, but be generous with your forgiveness – just like Christ is with you.
They love like crazy.
Whether it’s a stuffed toy that they adore or a person they see every day, small children love with every fiber of themselves. They don’t consider the risks, and they don’t ever think about whether a person is doing “their part” in the relationship. You KNOW they love you – they make it obvious to you and to everyone around them. They give big huge hugs. They seek your attention. They are excited to see you, and sad when you leave. They talk about you. They imitate you. They ask about you. There is NO QUESTION that you’re in their little hearts. I think if we loved like a little kid for seven days, our whole life would change.
They don’t compare.
My kids have a multi-racial extended family, as well as friends with physical disabilities. They rarely mention differences between themselves and these other individuals. They’ve asked for explanations here and there, but otherwise they don’t see it as something important enough to discuss all that much. Physically, racially, and economically, kids just see people as people. No better or worse. They find value in people not because of how they perform, what they look like, or how much they own, but because of who they really are. We, too, should see people first as people, instead of categorizing, comparing, and labeling.
They are who they are.
My daughter used to go to the grocery store with me wearing an IronMan costume. Every time. People loved it – they waved and she waved, and she thought it was just the best thing ever. No one else in the store was wearing a costume, but she wanted to wear it anyways. No regrets, no apologies, no embarrassment. Psalm 139:13-16 says that God saw us and knew us before we were born, and formed us to be who we are . There ARE things that we shouldn’t be proud of – sinful things that don’t please Him. But He made us to be unique people, and sometimes I think we’re more apt to conform and change who we are so that we fit in to the group around us. Be proud of the person you were made to be, just like my little girl was proud to be IronMan.
Most of the time we think of kids as just what they are – kids! After all, they’re the ones who are learning to be more mature, and rarely do we consider them role models. But maybe we should learn a thing or two from the simplicity and authenticity of little children, and be just like them!
Matthew 18:2-4 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
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