It amazes me how many days I get caught up in something. A fear or worry, failure or thing I wish I would’ve done different. A task, habit or escape from living in the reality of my life.
The many distractions that keep us from joy. Prevent us from paying attention, and participating in the present momentary things. The little, everyday gifts that take up the most room in our heart.
My son attends a small Christian school and every Thursday morning they have chapel. It’s the most amazing place. Every child should be so blessed to experience the love, acceptance, encouragement and grace that embodies this little school. Not only do they minister to the tender hearts of children, but to the lives of the parents as well.
Today at chapel, my boys blessed me with a few of those momentary gifts.
As I was listening to the message, my middle child was asking me letters to spell different words. In between listening and watching my other boys, rattling off seemingly random letters to him, he wrote me a love note. It read: I LOVE YOU, YOU ARE MY HEART.
We might as well have gone home and just gone to bed for the rest of the day. My heart was full. I mean, what more could a mother desire? No bad morning, misunderstanding or short-term heartache could outweigh the outward expression of love from her child.
Not by a long shot.
And then my youngest. He was sitting on my lap as they were passing the cross. When it came to us he told me he wanted to hold it and say a prayer. He’s three. I carefully pulled my camera out of my pocket and snapped the photo attached to this post.
To me, it captures the essence of the innocent, faithful and peace filled childlike heart I so desperately desire.
I am not a perfect mom. Most days I fall so far short I cannot even count the ways. But despite my failures, my mistakes and frustrations, these boys forgive me. They love me in spite of and because of my faults. Despite all the ways I am distracted and distant, they are my heart and they tell me I am theirs.
I want to love like that.
With the eyes of a child that look past minor offenses and see the heart of another. See that despite all the ways in which we fall short, when our hearts are right toward one another we can overlook minor offenses. We can forgive where things have gone wrong. We can choose to move on and move forward in love.
And the cross. How often when I’m spiraling down in fear, worry, regret and shame do I remember to just bow my head and pray? To surrender my fear to the only One who can comfort my soul. To the only One who knows the prayers of my heart when I don’t have the words to say. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how God heard the intimate prayer of my little boy’s heart, though he never spoke a word.
It is written: “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
Here are 4 simple ways we can become more like little children and live with a childlike heart:
1. Believe all things are possible
Children haven’t become cynical like most of us grownups. They still trust in the fundamental truth that anything is possible. For those of us who follow Christ, we believe all things are possible through Him. But do we really believe that? Do we really trust that with Christ, all things are possible? Or have we actually given up already? We talk the talk but do we really believe that with faith – in the simple act of taking the time to bow our head in prayer, believing in God – any good thing is possible? They do.
2. Look to the heart
We’re going to fail one another. No matter who we are or how good we try to be, we’re going to fail. We’re going to do things we wish we had never done. We’re going to say things we don’t mean and we’re going to be sorry we said some things we did mean. We have to be willing to look to the heart of our friend and decide whether it was meant to hurt us or to help us. Was it intentional or a misunderstanding? When we look at the heart we are able to overlook some of the things that happen in the daily rhythm of life. So little that happens to us is a reflection of us. What does reflect us, is our response. Children look past the hurt, to find the heart.
3. Temper with grace
I’ve noticed in my relationship with my kids, when I ask for forgiveness they offer it almost immediately and without explanation. I think that’s because children aren’t distracted by the details. When we look to the heart we are able to see that despite the ways in which we fail every single day we are still lovable. We are still worthy of love and belonging and safe, healthy relationships. We are worthy of a second chance. When we understand we will fail not only each other but ourselves, it frees us up to be imperfect. To realize that imperfect and real is actually far more beautiful than pretending we’re perfect. When we accept we will never be perfect, it allows us to extend that same freedom and grace to others.
4. Cover with love
Children are the closest thing to unconditional love we will ever experience in this life. They know better our faults and failures, our excuses and imperfections. They’ve witnessed who we are when no one is watching. And yet. They write us love notes and tell us we are their heart. Their love, hope and faith are bigger than their fear of being hurt.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Oh to live with the heart of a child. Whose faithful spirit still believes that all things are possible. Who holds onto hope that even the hardest heart can soften. The brave eyes of a child, willing to search and find the heart of the person, tempering their feelings with forgiveness and grace and covering in one another in love. I want to live like that.