Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 4th 2011 Lessons we can learn from Little Children

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew 18:2-3 NKJV)

William Wordsworth in his poem ‘The Rainbow’ has called “child the father of man”; though there have been many different interpretations of the above quote, I’d like to share some of my thoughts inspired by these lines.
Caught up in the frenzy of life, we are all in such a hurry to grow up and make it big, to achieve laurels , applause and success. In our endeavor to survive the rat race , we all undergo a voluntary metamorphosis over the years, shedding many of our unique qualities that come to us naturally as children but leave us as we ‘grow up’. We become practical tacticians; successful professionals, but are still 'rats in the rat race'!
All the so called intellectual gibberish that our brains have accumulated over the years wins us promotion after promotion and we begin to climb the so called ‘ladder of success’.
Why is it then that we stammer, stutter and blush red as a beet at some of the innocent queries of our toddlers and little ones? I am reminded of the little boy in the fairytale ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ (by Hans Christian Andersen) who is the only one in the whole town who spoke the truth that everyone knew but was afraid to admit.'Isn’t it true that children often speak the honest truth and words of wisdom that we know well enough but have been taught over the years to ignore or rather compromise? Someone once said “A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer? For this very reason and for many more I agree that in aspects of learning or rather “unlearning” Child is indeed the Father of Man!
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”~Angela Schwindt
Why did Jesus ask us to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God? What are some of those endearing qualities that every child possesses?
This week, my blog post is lessons we can learn from a Child:

1)   An Unconditionally Loving Spirit :

A child’s love is pure and untainted. He/she loves us just as we are. They don’t love us for what they can get out of us; they love us for who we are more than what we do! If we ask any child who their hero is they would most certainly point to their parents or caregiver who spends time with them, loves them and takes care of them. It is a universal truth that there are no perfect parents, however if there is one thing perfect in this world - it is the heart of a child which is full of love! There is no other chicken soup in the world to make you feel better than your little one’s toothless grin and sweet warm cuddle!

2)   A Teachable spirit:

 It is said that the minds of children are like sponges as they absorb everything so quickly and hence learn at an amazing rate. I personally feel that there are two primary reasons that kids learn quicker than adults. They are:

a.) Wonder & Curiosity in everything they see:                                         It is a known fact that we remember and retain more of something when it excites or interests us. For children, the whole world around them is full of wonderful things to discover and learn. This can be best expressed in the quote: “There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.  There are seven million.” - Walt Streightiff

b) Ignorance about failure :
Let us learn determination from toddlers trying to walk. They have no word called “impossible” in their programming and so keep trying and finally succeed. If we were to go back in time with our present mindsets and loser attitudes of giving up easily whenever we fell, many of us wouldn’t be walking today!

3)   A Grateful Spirit :
  Have you ever wondered why children are the happiest beings alive? “A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.”-Bill VaughanA little child smiles easily and is always content and thankful for everything: big or small. It is only as they grow up that they learn to be happy conditionally. And as age progresses, expectations increase and they forget to count their blessings and their eyes look around for more things to possess. Greed takes the place of gratitude and with that happiness gives way to grief!

4)   A Joyful Spirit:

There is no song sweeter than the joyful laughter of a child! The child’s laugh comes from so deep within his very being and is so full of life and freedom ! How long has it been since many of us have laughed out loud and hard so that our sides ached? It is said “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us”- Abbot Coumba Marmion.   Some people say I cannot be happy today like I was when I was a child because my life has changed- it is too complicated and painful. Let me ask you, “Do you really know the difference between JOY and HAPPINESS?” Though often used interchangeably, there is a major difference between the two and only when this becomes clear that we are able to understand why the Bible says : “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say Rejoice.”-Philippians’ 4:4  Joy is NOT the absence of suffering but IT IS BEING CONTENT in the Presence of God; receiving His grace to endure whatever happens in our life; in the full knowledge that He is in control and nothing can harm us without His knowledge. We can be in pain and yet choose to be joyful. "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your JOY."-Thich Nhat Hanh

5)    A Bold Spirit :

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso. All children are born bold and confident. It is the experiences of their life that make them conform and change. Bible says: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.”-Romans 12:2 NIV
The word “bold” is often misunderstood and is even given a negative connotation by many. Let us understand what it actually means. To be Bold means 'to be fearless and adventurous.' Acc to 2 Timothy1:7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
It also means to be original and to stand out and be noticed: Bible says:  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV).
Hence we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”-Hebrews 4:16 KJV

6)   A Forgiving Spirit:

Children have the shortest memories and keep the shortest accounts when it comes to remembering wrongs and holding grudges. We should strive to forgive and forget the way a Child does. A Child lives totally in the present moment and relishes every bit of it. Even when scolded or disciplined, though the child may express disappointment or displeasure, he soon is distracted by something else and later comes back to us as if nothing ever happened. We may remember but he has forgotten. Children are seldom bitter and revengeful. This is the reason that the conscience of the child is so clear and sensitive that his mind is also free to accumulate good, pure and useful things. As the Bible says: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things is of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”-Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

7) A Child Heart:

I’ve saved the best for the last. This is the quality that I personally love the best. In fact, it is  the one quality makes a child a child and differentiates him/her from any adult. Children are open, spontaneous, candid and they speak without any inhibitions. It is said that “to lose a child’s heart is to lose everything”. Children do not overanalyze or calculate,on the other hand,they are so trusting and are able to see good in everyone and everything around them. There is something so straightforward and clear about them, that we feel safe, can lose our guard and be our true self with them. If we ask a group of five little children “raise your hands all of you who can paint”, without a doubt all five hands will go up. It is because they do not compare and so do not have any feelings of superiority or inferiority whatsoever. Ask the same question to a group of adults and the response will definitely be different. Thus you see “Children are God's apostles, day by day sent forth to preach of love and hope and peace” - James Russell Lowell.

What did Jesus mean when He said: that unless you become like little children you will  not enter the Kingdom of God? He definitely doesn’t mean that we should be childish or foolish, on the contrary He asks us in Mathew 10:16 “to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  I believe that He means that we should exhibit the above mentioned seven qualities which are already inherent in every one of us. There is a child in each one of us and we have to allow ourselves to become that child once again for full expression of these qualities. Only when we learn to love unconditionally with an open child-heart which is forgiving, teachable, grateful, bold and joyful can we enter the Kingdom of God.

 Take Care, God bless,
Sparky Laurie
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