“And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:3
I was just recently sharing with a mommy friend how dear this verse is to me and how precious is this image in the Bible of Jesus with the little children—so incredibly dear to my heart. There the disciples were, just trying their best to take care of their Jesus—attempting to shoo the little ones away (those pesky little rugrats) who were clammering to get closer to this God man—who was so very tired after a long day of loving on all of his people–and Jesus says, no, let them stay, let them come to me—
and then he takes it there—he takes it all the way there—he takes it to eternity. He says not only are they important, they are the MOST important—for it is hearts like this that we must emulate to enter that forever place. This brings me to tears every time. Every.single.time. And I venture to think for those of us who have survived our childhoods, because we very well may not have–this image, this great love, this incredible gentleness and captured reverence is all the more precious.
What’s also so amazing about this verse is that the disciples were asking Jesus ‘who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ I mean, we need to know the pecking order for the after life, right? And guess what Jesus says? “…whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whomever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18: 4-5 Children are big stuff to Jesus–clearly. He goes on to say, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10. Big stuff, little ones. So while the disciples are, as it tells us in Luke, rebuking — Jesus is calling his children to him “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16. AMAZING respect given to ones so small.
I love kids. It’s why I do what I do. After situations, some quite awful, have arisen throughout the decade and some plus years I’ve taught and been a paraeducator with preschool kids–I’ve often had friends ask me–why do you do it–and why do you go back? (it’s clearly not for the paycheck — smile) It’s really quite simple. For the kids. They are why I love my job. And the bs that comes with it is never from them–it’s always the grown up set that creates that drama (we mess everything up, don’t we? smile). I couldn’t do anything else. My passion is here. They are they most important. Period. I can pretty much put up with any holy hell for them. And this is where I belong. Here. With these all important beings. Cause we’re teaching each other lots of stuff — every day — and they help me remember what my walk in this life is all about — everyday — and that being a grown up isn’t really where it’s at — nope, this kid thing — that’s where it’s at. And along with the good Lord above, they keep my heart on track.
So the rest of you, go ahead and grow up. I’m staying here. Forever growing hearts and minds, forever wanting to know the “how” and “why” of something, forever having best friends, forever loving then getting mad then loving cause we love so unconditionally here, throwing the occasional tantrum then getting over it because it’s okay to feel our feelings and sometimes we forget to use our words but we’ll remember better next time–cause we’re learning–and we’re imperfect, but we’re also humble, so it’s okay if you forget every once in awhile too. We forgive really easy. And we are accepting of everyone. Everyone. Because we don’t know any different. Our hearts just see people–and the potential for awesomeness and excitement and new experiences. And little things make us happy. Like, every.little.thing. Frosting on cupcakes (forget the cupcake), sunshine, sticks, bugs, a sparkly new barrette (that may or may not make it till the end of the day), new crayons, markers, glue, holding someone’s hand, birthdays, paper crowns, paper anything, we’re just so enthusiastically thankful for all of it! All.of.it. Cause life is something to be celebrated, lived, wished upon and cherished–not gotten through. We get to do this. Every day. We get to! And there’s so much to learn, so much to do, and so many people to love and who love me. So, I’m gonna hug you now–again. Yup, this momma is going to be four forever. It pretty much rocks.
And what does this mean in our faith, our walk? For me, it means I must forever be humble–and the good Lord makes this pretty easy for this momma. It doesn’t take but more than an hour or so for a reminder to this busy, frazzled girl to receive a heads up that I’m not perfect. And I’ve come to enjoy laughing at these little things and have just relished breathing so much more. Because these “stresses” we really just place on ourselves and we let others place on us. Really. Life goes on, and it doesn’t matter five minutes from now, and you are so much more than… SO MUCH MORE. So just stop, breathe and live. I learned this all of last year, friends, and just started really living it. Huge for this girl. Huge. And huge for my family as well. So, I have come to embrace imperfection–while still expecting all good things from myself and trying my best–but not beating myself up for the silly things that don’t come out perfect. I’d rather spend that extra time on my soul and my family. And then I’m not so hard on other people as well. As I judge myself a little more softly, I cut others much more slack. Funny how that works. In the words of Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.” I’m giving my best shot with what I’ve got right now and seeing that we really all are. You need something, I’m here for you, sister. I’ve got you, you’ve got me. None of us need anyone screaming at us or pointing fingers in each other’s faces. I’ve always maintained that no one has been ostracized or judged to heaven. And I watch how my boys, how my preschoolers play–I mean, occasionally there’s a sharing problem and those problems are solved pretty quickly–but the thing is– they’ve got each other’s backs. They’re tight. They’re good. And if someone needs a hug, well, you better believe someone is GETTING that hug (or two, or three). They could care less if you’re wearing North Face, Under Armor, Ugg or Coach or you have something on from the Wal-Mart clearance rack or Goodwill. It’s who you are. And if you can’t cut out a perfect circle to make that “C” caterpillar? Forget about it. You’re still my best friend, and I love you anyway. No judging. Except for maybe who can run the fastest on the playground. But they’ll forget about it two seconds after no one can breathe and everyone is rolling around on the ground and laughing and giggling–and again–hugging each other. Yeah, humility, all inclusive acceptance, and less judging–or how about we throw that judging thing out all together and just leave it to God–you know, since He is perfect and doesn’t have a muddled heart?
And kids aren’t perfect–by a long shot–they have their issues just like crazy grown ups do. In fact, there are some days mine make me want to roll up in a ball and rock in the fetal position (with the door shut, in my closet, for like a LONG time). They can be very egocentric. They eat too much candy. They can be so very wrapped up IN THIS MOMENT that they can’t see past it and it’s FOREVER and LIFE IS OVER and it is RUINED and forever broken and … just my kids (smile) ? They can be needy, they can be such siphons of your time, your energy, your space, your body — and have NO perception of parameters or boundaries. They have no filters, can be super sensitive, they throw fits, they have no sense of time and they want things now, now, and now (again, just mine?). And yet, I think I just described myself (smile). But in a way, some of these things can be positives too — we just live in a world that doesn’t have time for them — patience or a status quo that is bendy or roomy enough. Having two very “feely” and sensitive boys who do things their own way, I’ve often been driven to a state of crazy (well, I blame my kids, but I’m there on my own quite a bit — smile) by a world who doesn’t “get” them. But I so get them, and Jesus so gets them — and I know that’s all they need. (and I’d insert that they’ve had amazing teachers that have been extremely instrumental in this whole “getting them” process as well) And part of that is that I think we expect kids to grow up so fast, to process into adults so quickly — assembly line style — we need them to do everything so simultaneously. Who has time for kids that have these intense emotions, feelings and ways of seeing the world differently? Not a lot of people. Not a lot of hearts. But Jesus did and Jesus does. And this is what it also means for my walk, faith, and heart. May we always be open to those kids, those people that don’t “fit in” to what everyone else perceives as “normal”. Because, I hate to break it to you — but, there really is no such thing. We’re all created exactly as we’re intended to be. We all have a specific purpose to our creation. Yes, some of us have bigger, huger that huge struggles we have to deal with and face, but we all are perfectly we. And we are all okay. Some of us just need to work harder or need lots (and the range of that ‘lots’ can run the gamut) of help, but we’re all his children. No one is dispensable. We all have value. We all are miracles. We all start off as little children–some of us are just dealt more challenging hands. But the hands that hold us are the same.
It also means that it’s okay if I’m not always brave. I’m still scared a lot. I may always be scared a lot. This kid will always need her heavenly father. And that Holy Spirit? He’s always in my heart–my divine–what makes me divine–is living inside of me. Pretty amazing. And he helps me be brave. So very brave. He helps me get up every day and try my best, my very best, to be the best child of God I can be, and to shine — no matter what –to shine even when I don’t feel like I can, or am even good enough to try. Then sometimes he just helps me be brave enough to show up– and then he shines for me. I may always feel like a scared little kid, and hey, that’s okay. I’m still welcome into eternity.
It also means that I want my kids to be surrounded by light. Darkness is everywhere. I want them to be surrounded by light, and I want them to be equipped with the tools and strength to BE the light in that darkness. It’s so important for me that they have that foundation. Because there is going to be plenty out there to trip them up, plenty of people out there that will cause temptation — and I need to make sure that my walk and my heart are pure and steadfast examples for my boys. Perfect? No. And I’m not about to cover those blemishes up–because I don’t want them to expect perfection from themselves. I say sorry — a lot. And when we pray together as a family, we ask God to help us be the parents God wants us to be for our boys with our boys. They know we don’t have it all together. They know we rely on God — they see us rely on God — and the best part? They see God carry us and answer that prayer on a continuous basis. They’ve seen this momma lose her temper, cry, not do perfect mommy things. And I have had to ask my boys for their forgiveness. I’ve had to ask if we can start days over and if I can try again. I’ve had to ask for their grace. And we hug, and forgive, and try again. And they know that their Daddy and I will always do the same for them. Always — and that their Jesus will too. So, it’s not that I want the people and presences in their life to be perfect. No, that’s not what I’m saying or asking. But I want them to try to shine as examples for my boys — to try to do their best — to not keep on showing up as bad examples — to keep perpetuating sin — let’s call it for what it is. When we mess up, we say ‘I’m sorry’. We own it. We try again. We don’t keep repeating patterns that inadvertently — and not so inadvertently — show my kids that you think that behavior and pattern is okay with you. This is my job as their momma. Being their momma is a responsibility I take seriously. My kids are extremely important to me. They are extremely important to God as well. I expect people to respect that, and if they can’t, we make space — we have to make boundaries.
God loves his children. And we are all his children. I love it when he calls us his children. He is my father. He is really the only father that has ever loved and nurtured this girl. He wants so much for us–and has such incredible plans for all of us. Having that childlike faith, that heart, thankfulness, enthusiasm, resilience, appreciation, excitement, hope, love, acceptance — that’s really what it’s all about. I’m not saying that — he is (smile). He wants us to be like that. And think about how joyful kids are. Really. Even in the most dire and darkest of circumstances, they are so joyful. Because in the midst of all of that–they know nothing else. And they are so thankful for everything. God wants us to have hearts like that — those are the kind of hearts that gain us entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Not heavy, doom and gloom, brimstone, pointing fingers and angry raging hearts. Childlike hearts. And those excited child hearts that can’t wait to share what they just got for Christmas hearts (guess what I got?!?!?!?!, guess what I got?!?!?!?!?)?!? Yup! Those are the kind of hearts that share our Jesus too! That joy, that excitement, that love! We’re all in this together. There’s no club. No group, no membership. Really, there’s not even a building. He just wants your heart. Your childlike heart.
Hold my hand, let’s walk home together, and pick up some extra besties along the way…
Love y’all. ❤ Now this momma needs to run off and play with her kids. By the looks of my kitchen table, it’s craft day (you’d be surprised what treasures you can make with toilet paper rolls (smile) )…
Peace and Namaste — and G just asked me if there is going to be a super, big, huge, HUBONGOUS playground in heaven…
(most likely with a super high twisty slide)
“When it’s dark, be the one who turns on the light.” — Joseph, age 9, Brooklyn, NY