I never quite understood why God wants us to be like children. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Have you been to a children’s theme park? Can you imagine Heaven full of children? Competitive shouting and crying, harmonies of alternate screaming of JOY-FEAR-JOY-FEAR, and of course, a whole lot of sweets. I also find it very contradictory as to why God would want us to remain child-like when ageing and maturity is one of the most definite things in life (the other being death itself).
1. Getting Older
As a brand-new 28-year-old, I celebrate what life has brought me. I used to love birthdays because it meant extra perks, then it just seemed like a formality (like how valentine’s day is special but blown out of proportion, leading to too much pressure), but now I embrace it a lot more because it feels a little selfish not to be thankful and celebrate blessedness. The rising number is not a sad reminder that my fitness is going down and my skin is sagging, it is a reminder of the amount of goodness I have been blessed with to bless others on earth.
As I feel such gratefulness this day, thankful for how I have been moulded into the person I am today over the years, I think back to my younger days and ask God, “really? For heaven, You want me to be 7-year-old me?? I think I prefer 28-year-old me. It’s an improved version with new features might be slightly buggy, but it’s still better!”
2. Auntie Training
I have a niece and a nephew, 6 and 4 years old respectively. Living in the same house as them, I watch them grow and learn right from wrong. Too often, I have watched my niece do things that are so silly and irrational. In my irritation, I would talk her through it and watch her laugh it off as if what I said doesn’t really matter. To my further annoyance, I identify a lot with her bad habits and tendencies like nail biting and clamouring for attention, stars and rewards, but I’ve grown up. I have learnt that biting my nails isn’t good because it reduces my ability to open cans, and have learnt that I don’t always have to prove myself to be the best to feel worthy of love.
“Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” It’s hard to recognize humility in children, to see their pure desire to bring joy and their pure love and trust in you as a provider. Perhaps it’s my own tinted lenses that prevent me from embracing that purity, projecting my own rationalization on a child’s pure motive and reacting according to my perception instead. Maybe my oversimplified idea of humility of “sharing is caring” is haphazardly communicated and children just don’t understand humility as an embracing of identity, providence and sacrifice (ok I need to figure out how to teach that).
3. Becoming Mother (eventually)
What’s the point of ‘maturing’ when God wants us to have child-like faith? As a mother in the future, do I just protect my child from failing, pain and weakness as he/she gets older? That way they never have to learn pride, selfishness and deceit. Yet instinctively, I know that that that’s not giving a child the freedom to learn to love. Are we all born with a purity, only to lose it as a teenager and spend the rest of our adulthood searching for it again?
Perhaps one day, I will be able to understand humility a lot better, to relearn what it means to be child-like. To have the privilege of raising up a child in God’s name is a daunting and difficult task, and sometimes it becomes terribly unappealing as I witness the destruction and nonsense our earth endures at this moment.
Not a child of this world, but a child of God
Recently, I was talking to a friend who was going to be received in the church during Easter, we spoke about the bible and the typical questions one might have before becoming Catholic. I couldn’t answer her very well and was disappointed with my poor and limited response, but there was a peace in my heart, a deeply familiar voice. I might not be able to articulate my beliefs and my thoughts very well but I know it is there in spirit! Similarly, My 7 year-old self might not have been able to articulate this but this is what I would have blogged:
I hope that I can listen better, to be teachable enough to be scolded and not argue and demand my decision is better.
I hope that I do not become overwhelmed with trying to make the world happy, and just focus on bringing joy to our Father in Heaven.
I hope I will do what I say I would instead of becoming distracted and procrastinating.
I hope I will fully encounter life, going through joy and sadness but knowing full well that regardless of what I feel, I am embraced and accepted as me, childish or child-like.
YAY….. HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL!