As I walk down the hall to my classroom at 7:30 in the morning, I hear the familiar sounds of one of my little boys screaming. As I do, I can't help but think it's going to be one of those days.
As soon as I enter the room, he runs to me with tears streaming down his little face, crying, "Ms. Lisa, Ms. Lisa." After giving him a reassuring hug, I gather up the shoes he has kicked across the room and head to the kitchen to fix breakfast for the rest of our friends.
The golden rule
Most of the children have arrived in the classroom by midmorning. There is the customary pushing and fighting over toys or any number of other crises typical to three- and four-year-old children. Yes, it really is going to be one of those days.
Later, we sit down for our daily Bible lesson. Considering how our day has been going, I decide to teach about the golden rule. It's a subject we cover often, my hope being that something will sink in one day.
When asked what the golden rule means to them, a symphony of little voices chime in with "Treat others like you want them to treat you." We talk about how it applies to daily crises such as whether you should push someone who has pushed you. They all agree that we haven't been practicing it today.
I asked what they thought we needed to do to help us practice the golden rule. One beautiful little girl raised her hand and said, "We can pray."
Wow! It caught me off guard. That was not the answer I was expecting from a three-year-old child. So, of course, that is what we did. That's when it hit me what Jesus Christ meant when He said we should become like little children.
Jesus tells us that becoming like a child is one of the major keys to true conversion (Matthew 19:14). But what does that mean?
Little children are pure in heart and mind. Their innocence is so beautiful and refreshing.
I remember when my daughter was a little girl, I told her about the golden rule and how important it is to practice it. It wasn't until years later (she is 18 now) that she told me she had thought practicing the golden rule meant that if someone did something to her, they wanted her to do it to them. We laugh about it now, but it demonstrates the innocence of a child's mind.
Being a preschool teacher is a wonderful opportunity to see the gentle, loving, childlike nature God desires of us at work. As adults, we have the responsibility to obey Jesus' admonition to regain that childlike attitude. Regrettably, as our little ones grow up, they begin to lose their innocence as society encroaches in on them.
Honesty is refreshing
So what is the answer? How can we regain the childlike attitude Christ says we need?
Some would argue that as children grow past the toddler stage, they lose their innocence. I don't think so. I am reminded of what a little boy told me to explain why he couldn't help but be bad. "I'm always good at home, but when I get to school the bad just jumps from my shoulder into my head."
There is more truth to that simple explanation than many may want to admit. Another little boy was fascinated with my age. When I told him how old I was, he said, "Wow, I don't want to get old."
Little children are not afraid to ask questions for fear of sounding stupid. Part of their innocence is a hunger for knowledge. As adults, we may tire of their endless questions, but they are only displaying a thirst for knowledge.
Take a moment to reflect on the patience that our heavenly Father shows us with our questions and requests. In children's quests for knowledge we see an honesty that is refreshing. We need to become like our children when it comes to talking to our Father. Children aren't afraid to admit they don't know all the answers. Rather, they are simply attempting to add to their base of understanding as they encounter the world around them.
When my oldest son was about five years old, we had to board up our home and head for high ground because a hurricane was headed straight for us. We were instructed to go to the highest location in town, which happened to be a church-affiliated school.
The next morning, as we were eating breakfast in the cafeteria, I noticed my son looking around the room and at a crucifix displayed on the wall. Finally he said, "Mamma, when they run out of graves, do they hang people on trees?" He knew that to find the answer he needed to ask his mother or father.
"God has lots of eyes"
Just like children, we need to go to our spiritual Father to gain the knowledge we need to guide us in our spiritual lives.
So how honest are we with God? Do we say what is in our hearts? Or as we've grown older, have we lost the ability to be honest with Him and ourselves? Go to God in prayer and be completely open and honest with Him. He knows our innermost thoughts anyway. As one little girl put it, "God can see everything because He has lots of eyes."
Observe children as you have opportunity. Go to your spiritual Father for spiritual answers. And the next time you find yourself wondering how to regain the attitude of a little child, remember the words that my little preschool girl stated so beautifully—"We can pray." GN