Have you ever looked at a child playing and wished you could play like that again, carefree and not worrying about what anyone is thinking? Do you wish you could enjoy life with messy hair, not caring if your clothes got dirty or wet, and enjoy the moment without thinking about your adult responsibilities?
Is it possible to be an adult while still playing like a child? King David seemed to think so. This was his response when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel:
“while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” 2 Samuel 6:15-16
David knew how to celebrate with the joy of a child; however, his wife, Michal, didn’t seem to agree.
Years ago, I received some of the best advice of my life, and it changed me forever. Maybe it will change you as well.
You don’t have to know me well to realize I have a penchant for mayhem and a love for some good-natured fun. Yet, in the past I struggled. My fun-loving side usually won, but I wondered how others saw me. Then, one short conversation changed everything.
This was a cool, overcast, late August day, and I was helping to set up for a church picnic. For some odd reason anytime a potentially messy activity was involved, I was put in charge of it, especially if it was water. A friend and I were tasked with filling up water balloons. I could claim we didn’t know how to work the outside faucet, but it was just the excuse for the initial spilling of water on each other. Then there was “checking to see how much water the balloons could hold.” The only way to test that was to overfill them until the broke, again more water everywhere. Now we did take a brief break, but we had a good reason…The bouncy house arrived! I was hoping for the purple dinosaur, but the yellow and red castle would have to do.
Someone needed to test it out. Seriously, we were going to let children in this, we didn’t want them getting hurt! Besides, I had worked for the family who owned the company. I babysat for them and even ran one of their bouncy houses at the mall. Naturally, I was the perfect candidate. A few other friends joined us, and we all soon realized three things. This was so much fun when we didn’t have to worry about squashing innocent children, we had zero ability to balance in there, and we could bounce each other really high! We did have to get back to our responsibility of water balloons, so we took a break. (A bouncy house provides endless laughter, but it’s also a workout!)
On our way back, a few ladies looked at us as if we were nuts. Their perfect hair and make-up wasn’t about to be ruined by laughing and jumping in bouncy house. I was a little self-conscious, but the fun side was winning. It was serious business getting those water balloons together. We also had to check for how well they would break. The goal was for the kids to play balloon toss, seeing who could toss them back and forth the longest without breaking one. So, they couldn’t be underfilled and never break, but they couldn’t pop immediate. I think we started throwing them at the ground, but our feet got in the way. Oops. I don’t know who “missed” first and hit the other in the legs, but it was game on! Soon were running around the parking lot. Those balloons seemed to have a perfect amount of water to break at the appropriate time. We were getting soaked as we ran past the disapproving glares from some ladies, but we kept going. By this point there was no turning back.
Then came Marty walking down the sidewalk. She was a wise woman with short dark hair, a pray warrior, but she also had a good sense of humor. She called our names, and by the look on her face I was certain we were in for a lecture. Sure enough, we were. Keep in mind we were both soaking wet and still holding water balloons. There was no hiding.
She wasn’t exactly hiding the smile on her face as she said, “I want to tell you something.” When you turn 70, you can consider growing up. I did, and decided not to.”
That was profound. I had known this woman most of my life. By this point in her she already had a long and successful career as a nurse, she was a great-grandmother, she had deep compassion, and radiated the love of God. I learned so much about prayer by simply watching her over the years
It took a few seconds for it to sink in. Then she reminded us to carry on. After a few more direct hits we decided we better save some balloon for the kids and finish filling them up. My hair was now pulled up in a messy pony tail, lipstick was long gone, my clothes were soaked, and there was dirt on my jeans. All of it was worth the laughter. Marty gave me A Jesus Moment, a moment where I knew God saw me and was giving me joy. Her advice has led to many happy moments.
Whenever I’m tempted to grow up, I’m reminded of Marty’s wise words and this passage.
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “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 18:2-4 (NIV)
I want to be like a child, not concerned with my social standing. I may have grown up responsibilities, but I pray I never grow up.
Maybe God knew I needed the point driven home one more time. When it was time for the kids to play balloon toss with the water balloons my friend was nowhere to be found. I think she was playing football. I figured I could handle 10 kids. I was oh so wrong. I’m positive I clearly explained the game. “Toss the balloons back and forth without breaking them.” Somehow they heard, “Throw all the balloons at Emily!” I was defenseless because they were blocking the basket with the extra balloons in it and I was outnumbered. A few parents saw what was happening, yet when they realized it was me and my life wasn’t in danger, they either watched and laughed or returned to their potato salad. By the end I was on the ground, which was muddy from all the water, soaking wet from head to toe, and covered in a pile of giggling children. I couldn’t have been happier.
I have a challenge for you and myself this week. Let’s find one thing we can do that makes us feel like a child again. Maybe it’s coloring, blowing bubbles with some bubble gum, jumping in a pile of leaves, playing on the swings at a playground, watching some cartoons, or arraigning the food on your dinner plate to make a smiley face. Find something that makes you feel carefree, even if only for a few minutes.
I love hearing from you. What are you doing to feel like a child again? Please leave a comment and share. Over the next few days keep your eyes open on Instagram www.instagram.com/JesusInEveryMoment, for a picture of me enjoying my childlike side. I have no clue what it will be, but I’ll be enjoying myself!
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