Having a six year old girl has reminded me over and over of the beauty of being childlike. Not childish mind you, but child-like. There is a difference. Childish is that selfish desire to stuff ourselves with all that brings us happiness. As adults we spend a considerable amount of time and energy being childish in the pursuit of happiness. Adults pursue happiness at a breakneck speed that is blinding as if joy is racing us to the finish line and it is our job to catch it. Children don't do this. Childlike, is the recognition that everything around us was created to bring us joy. Watch them! They sing for the joy of singing and laugh even if nothing is funny. They have no need to pursue something that already exists. They do not tire themselves seeking something that is within their grasp. They don't go anywhere to obtain joy. They see strangers as potential friends and cardboard boxes as hours of entertainment.
You remember, don't you? We ran not to burn calories but because we burned with a passion to experience the joy of running. We climbed trees because they were there. We fought off sleep for fear we might miss something and we visited neighbors just because they were neighbors. We were ashamed to do wrong, because, well, it was wrong! We got scared and we weren't afraid to admit it. We had funerals for goldfish and birds because we somehow recognized the value of life and the grief of losing it. We asked questions when we didn't understand and we prayed wonderfully direct prayers to a God whom we never doubted was listening. We loved without fear. We trusted someone enough to jump off of something tall into awaiting arms. Although we might have been afraid, we pursued life with enthusiasm knowing that Band-Aids and Mom would put us back together if we happened to fall down.
Before we stifled the splendor of life, we relished its possibilities. Before we softened thrill into a sentiment, we were the children who felt it, pursued it and lived it. We were the children that we must become again. We believed in the endless potential of our own gifts and we only questioned our abilities if we were forced to do so. We saw our limitations but were never defined by them. We didn't see weeds we saw wishes. We smiled often, shared freely and dreamed about growing up in a world that was filled with endless possibilities. Few of us, I have realized, have been able to carry this childlike zeal into our adult lives. Perhaps it isn't respectable to believe in yourself or laugh just because you enjoy existing. Maybe it isn't responsible to rest, play, run, work and give ourselves over to faith. And so, in our respectable responsibility, we miss out on the very joy that could be blanketing our existence. I do it. I'm respectable and responsible and much of the time, no damn fun.
I lose sight of the joy. In fact, I have recently lost sight of it. It's a funk I find myself in periodically. I get busy. I get distracted. I am melancholy on my best days and I struggle with depression and loneliness. Those things don't show up and remind me of my potential for joy and laughter. They don't come with their neon signs pointing to all that is good and happy in life. Depression and loneliness show up and they rob me of my 'give-a-rip' and remind me of how much I should doubt myself and be afraid of screwing stuff up. They help me think of all of the people who aren't meeting my needs and they magnify the hopelessness that creeps into my heart and mind. Conversely, they are masterful at blinding me from the joyous gifts that wait for me everyday to open them. In fact, they sometimes convince me that those gifts aren't gifts at all. So I miss the joy, the gifts, the living. Children don't do this. They might get distracted BY joy but they don't get distracted FROM it.
I want to be childlike. I want to be a woman who pursues the passions within me and the beauty around me. I want to climb the occasional tree, hike by the stream and visit neighbors just because they are neighbors. I want to give to others with the excitement of a child and I want to love laughing more than anything else. I want strangers to eventually become my friends. I want to care less about my to-do list and more about my fellow man. I want to never question that God is listening when I so fervently, passionately and honestly go before Him, unfiltered. I want to believe that I am capable of anything and never allow fear to be the catalyst for my decisions. I want to see the risk of falling but also the possibility of flying. I want to acknowledge my limitations but refuse to be defined by them. I want to! I want to seek delight and desire joy. I want to choose life. I want to choose love even when it might not be returned to me. I want to fight that which steals the fervor I wish most of us had never lost. I want to do it even when I'm afraid. I want to seek out the Band-Aids when I fall and trust that when I jump, loving arms still wait to catch me!