about writing and life and God

Cabbages and kings

on January 26, 2013

Children are interesting. Especially when, like me, you’re not familiar with them.

I’ve spent several hours today with a young family: mum, dad, and two under-fives. In fact, one three-year-old and one just gone one.

I envy their total,up-front, in-your-face honesty. I wonder was I ever like that or were we drilled into politeness and lies in our generation?

The elder child was tired. There had been a longish, fairly fraught drive and a late night, followed by an early morning. By the time we arrived, she had been up for seven hours and was ready for a nap.

And made no bones about it.

She genuinely needed a nap so she had one, pink-cheeked in the push chair.

Her little sister, all huge round eyes and rosebud mouth, took exactly as long as she needed to get used to us before offering a smile. And then she ate exactly what and as much as she wanted. When she was bored or distressed, she showed it – and got the attention she needed.

It all worked extremely well. All so simple. What you see is what you get.

Exhausting for the parents, of course, and quite tiring for us, but refreshing too. No wonder Jesus told us we need to be like little children!

Just think how refreshing it would be if you were allowed to excuse yourself from one too many evening meeting with the honest “I’m too tired. I need an evening off”

And think how our relationship with God and one another would change if we were as straightforward and honest as young children. If we told him how it really is with us, exactly as we never would with our status on Facebook!

Ah but, you might protest, it’s ok to be straight and honest with God but you can’t be like that with other people. Civilised behaviour is required and that means not always being truthful. Little white lies. Covering up. Hiding behind our barriers. All that stuff that makes the world go round.

Oh yes. All that stuff. Deception and self-protection. Games-playing. Mask-wearing.

No, I don’t find Jesus ever telling us to do that. Interestingly he still got invited to weddings and dinner parties, but he must have been uncomfortable company sometimes. Just like we’re meant to be. Salt and light.

It is much harder for an adult, schooled in how to get along in the world, how not to rock the boat, than for a delightful and beloved child who feels safe to just be herself.

It strikes me it all rather depends on our focus. The child felt safe in the love and care of her parents, the significant people in her world, the people she depended on. And us? If our focus is on God, our loving Heavenly Father, as the most significant person in our world, the person we depend on, then maybe it’s not so scary to be mask-free, honest and straight in our dealings with the world? Or maybe just as scary but essential.

This being a Christian ain’t half challenging!


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