Welcome back. Jesus said, unless we “change and become like little children,” we won’t “see the kingdom of heaven.” Last week, you read about my experience as a four year old. Now, I’m going to tell you about a two year old. What are the characteristics of little ones that we big ones need? And do we need to change our attitudes about the development and propensities of our young ones? Let’s consider another story.*
“Two-year-old Elijah, whose mother is a ministry leader, had heard the word “holy” at church but also through the media in the phrase “holy cow.” Even at his tender age, this confused him. One day he asked several times, “What is ‘holy’?” Mom patiently responded as carefully as possible, trying to be age appropriate.” This is the way the mother reported it:
“So when I finally think his curiosity must be satisfied, we’re sitting there sharing a banana chocolate muffin, and he grabs my neck with his little arm and pulls my face close, saying, “Mama, let’s talk.” I am surprised but say, “What do you want to talk about?” He puts his face very close to mine and says very seriously, “WHAT IS ‘HOLY’?” He repeated the exact same thing three more times and listened very closely each time as I thought of every example I could that he could relate to.”
Isn’t this an amazing story? This was all I was going to report, but the story gets even better, so I need to quote some more:
“Another day Elijah (he calls himself Yiya) ran over to comfort his crying baby sister by patting her tummy and softly saying that he was right there with her. When his mother affirmed his actions, he looked up at her and said simply, “Yiya is like Jesus.”
This story takes your breath away. Now, I could develop for you my own lessons from these stories, but I’d prefer to invite you to interact on this blog. What do you learn from these vignettes of a four year old (last post) and from this two year old? How do these stories impact your perceptions of young children? How can these stories stir your own Christian growth? How do you respond?
*Elijah’s story is from Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey (subtitle: Guidance for Those Who Teach and Nurture) by Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010, page 1.
I love the innocence of both of your stories. Somehow, I feel as adults (parents, teachers, friends, etc.), we give approval language to the wrong things when our kids are little. Instead of giving approval for actions that are Christ-like (like Elijah’s), we add values such as “good” and “bad” to performance based actions. We do want to encourage obedience, selflessness and other Godly characters, but we forget to show our children that we all disobey and act selfish. I love this quote: “We out-sin our children while we are teaching them about Jesus.” Humility. Grace. Mercy. That’s what we all need, no matter our age!