I stare down into the deep brown eyes of a small, kind-hearted child as I wearily ask him for the hundredth time to do as he is told. To stop talking. To stop climbing up the slide. To stop throwing dirt. To keep his hands to himself. I don’t always grant this poor child grace. I don’t always speak to him kindly or lovingly. But he still shows me love. He still shows me grace. On some days when he has worn on my heart and patience, he runs up to hug me before he leaves. He still wants to hold my hand when I walk beside him and he still tells me funny stories about his life despite the fact that I put him in time out five minutes earlier.
Unfortunately I don’t always see him this way, but this child is a blessing. He reminds me of my human nature. He reminds me of myself. He reminds me of my desire to be loved and cared for and of my sometimes stubborn heart and cast iron will.
I know you supposedly grow wiser as you grow older, but in some ways these children that I work with are a little ahead of me. Of the children I work with, the majority of them will return my sometimes harsh correction with a smile and a hug. How willing am I to be that loving? Or that gracious? I can hold on to a grudge for an embarrassing amount of time. I run short on patience and understanding so often.
This child is patient with me even though I’m sometimes not patient with him. Children are so generous with their love and affection despite who you are or what you’ve done. One of the reasons that I love children is because they are willing to tell you they love you before telling you their name or even knowing yours.
They show me how I should live.
I should love unconditionally and without reservations.
I should forgive and forget easily.
I should grant grace generously.
As we grow up, the world makes us hard. It forces us to build a wall around our heart. We forget how to love and give. We forget to show grace and forgiveness.
When we were little, a stolen toy was solved by an apology and a hug, then you kept on playing like nothing ever happened. As we get older, apologies become harder to accept and harder to give. We don’t go on about our life like nothing ever happened, we decide to hold grudges instead.
When we were little, we didn’t care what anyone wore or what they looked like. We accepted everyone anyways. Now, it seems like acceptance has to be earned by what brand names you wear or the dollar amount in the bank.
“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.” Matthew 18: 3-4
Jesus tells us to live as children, to humble yourself and live like a child lives. To do that means to love and forgive like you did before the world turned your heart into stone. It means to grant grace and kindness without conditions. As I try to learn how to live graciously, I pray that God gives me the love and patience that this precious child has. God bless the little children.