He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:2-3
I form and facilitate groups of moms who meet monthly to delve deeper into their spirituality in motherhood in an environment of support and encouragement. As the ice breaker for each groups' first gathering, I ask the moms to bring a "symbol of their motherhood:" something that represents who they are, or who they want to be. As we go around the room, each mom explains why she brought what she did, then places her symbol on the "altar of motherhood" for the duration of the gathering.
It's always fascinating to see what women bring: a bottle of glue (she holds it all together in her family), a coupon book for kids' activities (she's the fun mom), a bag of Legos (she puts all the pieces together and her kids just undo it all), etc. The symbol that has resonated with me the most is Kimberley's.
Kimberley brought a pair of her son's sunglasses. Each lense was in the shape of a frog. She explained that she wants to be the kind of mother who always looks at life through her kids' eyes. She wants to be mesmerized by an ant crawling up a blade of grass, and see all the joy and gift that every moment holds. As she talked, I felt myself longing to share her perspective. I wanted a pair of froggy glasses of my own!
After saving for two years, my husband and I took our three kids to Smugglers' Notch in Vermont for an entire week this summer. Smugglers' Notch is an incredible family resort with so much to do they have to print the two page calendar of events in eight point font so it doesn't spill over onto three and four pages.
The highlight for me was the Country Fair that they have every Thursday evening on the Village Green. There is an outdoor BBQ, live performances by the kids who did Drama Camp that week, vendors selling fun stuff for kids, carnival type games that are free to play over and over until you win a prize, a rock climbing wall, etc. But the greatest part is the Country Fair races. By age group, there are wheelbarrow races, potato sack races, three-legged races, go-cart races, you name it.
When I saw the races begin, I flashed back to being a kid hopping across a similar green in a potato sack at family reunions. Those races were so much fun! The memory of them had me pulling my kids along in my excitement. But to my frustration, none of them wanted to participate! They were actually poo-pooing the idea, and instead wanted to go buy useless plastic chachkie crap that was never going to last.
Although I used to be a very adventurous person before kids, I'm a bit beaten down and tired now. Somehow that has morphed into me being the stick-in-the-mud mom: waving from the ground instead of riding the roller coaster, filming video instead of riding the zip-line, taking pictures instead of jumping off of the pond raft.
But that evening, on that Village Green, I found my froggy glasses! I saw all the joy and good, clean fun that was happening right before my eyes. I knew it was my job to rise to the occasion, step out of the usual passive role, and open my kids' eyes to the enjoyment they were missing. So I grabbed my daughter, and a potato sack, and went to the starting line. After my boys saw how much fun we had, they each took turns grabbing my husband and doing the wheelbarrow races with him.
The peak of the experience was when my kids were the ones behind the camera taking pictures of my husband and me running the three-legged race together! I truly felt like a kid again, and felt that kid-like excitement and joy. I knew my kids felt it too because they were grinning from ear to ear. Their smiles only got bigger when they received their Smugglers' Notch Resort fuzzy alien ribbons for First and Second Place that now adorn the family trophy shelf!
Like I was astounded by my kids' inability to see the enjoyment right in front of them, how often is God looking down on me, shaking His head at how I am not seeing all the gifts and mesmerizing things of life that He is parading before me? How frustrated He must be that I am too busy spending my allotted time on useless crap that is never going to last, instead of having the vision to see the real joys of life, what truly matters.
In this scripture passage, Jesus says that we have to change and become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Moreover, I think God gives us glimpses of Heaven right here on earth, all the time, at random moments, and in the most random situations. But it is only those with child-like vision who get to see them. Being a grown-up doesn't mean growing out of that perspective. If our grown-up eyes are too clouded by responsibility and "to do" lists, we need to change and become like little children again, not only in our hearts, but in our vision.
The wonderful thing is God lets us play at this game of life over and over again, just like the carnival type games at the Country Fair. Even better, when we finally see things the right way, the prize is our very own pair of froggy glasses!
For more information about MOSAIC Moms Groups (monthly spiritual reflection and discussion groups) in the Southern New Hampshire, Northern Massachusetts area, visit www.mosaicoffaith.net.
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