“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:3
I don’t want to take the context away from this Gospel story by pulling just this verse out, but the phrase “become like little children” resonated with me. In the passage, Jesus uses the example of children who are one of the most vulnerable populations in society. Children are completely dependent on whomever is taking care of them. Jesus is asking us to be just as vulnerable and humble before God.
However, I would like to use this verse to go back to basics.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, she decided to color the cow on the coloring page a pretty pink. Another little girl at the table told her she couldn’t color the cow pink. Cows weren’t pink in real life, and it was stupid. I saw my daughter’s shoulders slump. She dropped the pink crayon and went for the brown one instead.
As a parent class helper, I felt the need to speak up. “Do you think Clifford the Big Red Dog is stupid? I mean, a red dog? And certainly, dogs aren’t as big as houses.” I certainly caused quite the debate. There was a blue and magenta dog in Blue’s Clues and a purple dinosaur we know (and don’t love) as Barney. And how could Dora go on all these adventures without a parent or guardian? That isn’t safe! (The very question my six-year-old step-daughter asked about Dora.)
I caused a minor disturbance, but luckily the teacher had a great sense of humor and went along with me. “As long as we know what color a cow is really,” she said, “it doesn’t hurt to use our imagination when we color. Feel free to color the pictures however you like.” My daughter grinned and picked up the pink crayon and colored her cow with gusto. Another kid had a blue sheep, a red cow (Red cows are actually in Greek mythology and sacred to the god Apollo, but I didn’t point this out), and a purple goose. Luckily, I wasn’t kicked out of the class and was even invited back into the parent-helper fold.
As a child, you grab that pink crayon until someone tells you how you shouldn’t. You hide your authentic self. You conform to fit in or even to survive.
On the other hand, we are supposed to grow in both maturity and knowledge. It is expected of us. We cannot remain in kindergarten forever. We need to grow up and be a functioning member of society.
However, I’d argue we need to ‘change and become like children’ in order to gain what we lost growing up. As adults, we tend to rush through life. Our lives are a compilation of to-do lists and chores. If we aren’t careful, we take each day for granted and become stuck in survival mode.
What we don’t need is to lose our child-like wonder and our creativity. We need to reclaim our authentic selves.
I would encourage you to find ways to be creative and remember to add back some fun to your life. Take time to reconnect with your inner child.
Think of ways to dedicate your creativity to God using your skills and talents. A friend took a class on drawing and painting religious icons. Other friends have knit prayer scarves and given them to people in need. Feel free to serve or cook at a homeless shelter or create cards for shut-ins, just as long as you are doing something you enjoy, not creating another stressful item on your to-do list.
Find something you love and take the time to do it. Reclaim a part of your authentic self. Don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone. I took a drawing class, though I cannot draw to save my life. I gained a new appreciation and was proud of my pretty stick figures.
Don’t neglect to inject some joy and creativity in your life. Remember that God has given us our gifts to use and enjoy. Slow down your busy life and allow yourself to breathe and be. Feel free to pick up the pink crayon and color with enthusiasm.
To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.Wayne Dyer
Leave a Reply