I loved playing dress up as a child. I remember countless afternoons at my grandmother’s house in her closet putting on her skirts and blouses, sliding my tiny feet into her heels. I would slip her pearls on my neck and let her clip-on earrings pinch my tiny ears. Then I would try to walk. I would have to hike the skirt up and shuffle to the bedroom.
As an adult I often still feel like that little girl in her grandmother’s clothes. I struggle with wondering if I will ever feel like I belong. Will I ever truly fit in, or am I doomed to feel like that little girl in my grandmother’s world?
I recently read Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday. In it, she writes about the need to become more childlike. But Freeman reminds us: being childlike does not mean being childish (pg. 138).
One is forgoing responsibility, throwing a tantrum, and being self-involved. The other is wonder, awe, trust, surrender. It is hope and belief. It is being open and ready.
She writes about the image of a daycare room coming to her one day in prayer. Little tables and chairs, paper and crayons. Then she realizes she is a child. “This day belongs to the Lord,” she said. “This is not the day Emily made to toil and strive and earn. … He invites me to surrender myself to His agenda and trust that He intends good things” (pg. 134).
In my prayers I am often a little girl in a flower field. I run my hand along the tops of the flowers that grow wild, up to my waist. I am in a field with a lake and a beautiful mountain rising before me.
I imagine that someday I will be a grown-up here. I will finally not be playing dress-up. But what if that is the entire opposite of what God wants?
What if He wants my curiosity? What if He wants my wonder? What if dress-up is okay because it keeps me dependent on Him?
What if the wonder, joy, awe, and ability to see the small things is really what it is all about?
It is resting in God’s presence vs. trying to do it alone.
It is being filled with possibility and being open vs. being skeptical and analyzing things to death.
Freeman writes: choosing to believe the simple, true words about my identity is a childlike quality that often takes mature faith. (pg.139)
Believing What God Says
It takes more faith to let go and let God be God than to try and control it all. Like kids in a tantrum refusing to sleep though they are exhausted, surrendering and letting go brings rest, comfort, and release.
When I let myself be childlike, I say okay to being messy. I do not have to have it 100% together. I can move towards others, not in “perfection” but with my mess – loving them and inviting them to embrace their mess too.
“Jesus speaks to the interior soul, inviting the child within to come to Him for validation, protection and truth” (pg. 141).
Ultimately, our souls are young! In our pain we try to fortify them – but our inner being is childlike. That is what breeds wonder, worship, love and hope. An adult has no use for those – but a child is all over them.
It is our woundedness that cause us to fortify the child inside. We are taught not to trust. We are taught to be reserved. We are taught to hold back, play along, fall in line – be an adult! But God did not tell us to become upstanding adults resting on practicality, logic, reason and hustling to make our way. He told us to become like children.
“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)
Being Childlike in the Every Day
The other day I was on a run. I was having the hardest time finding a rhythm. It was a mental block. I was exhausted. I couldn’t make it down the block. I wanted to quit. But I had a distance I was determined to go.
In my frustration, I decided to sing. I got found a beat with my steps and started to sing. My song: He is good. He is with me. He is my strength. He will get me through. I can do this. As I focused on that instead of my pain, I forgot about the run. I made it further than I have so far.
That was a childlike moment. The song made no sense. It was off the cuff. It was totally silly and repetitive and did not always rhyme. But it was pure. It was me – unadulterated before God. It was undignified. It was real. It was me with my God in a moment when the veil was torn and I was just with Him.
And isn’t that just simply amazing?
How can you be more childlike today?