The other night, we were saying a prayer together and my daughter, who is 4, demanded quite firmly to God to “take the sickness away and take away all problems.” It made me think of the verse in the book of Matthew in the Bible where Jesus is talking and says, “if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven” (matthew 18:3).
What are little children like? They are curious, demanding, eager and empathetic. My kids are so curious. My son is constantly upending boxes and containers, turnings things around and exploring the objects in his little world. He puts things in his mouth to learn how they feel and taste. He throws them across the room to see what will happen. My daughter is heavy in a science phase right now, and performs “experiments” in the bathroom that mostly involve filling up every container she can find with water and adding food coloring. Sometimes she convinces me to freeze the bowls of colored water to further the experiment. (She also narrates what she’s doing to her “mirror friend” – it’s seriously cute)
My kids are demanding. They fully expect that their needs will be met the moment they feel them. The instant they are hungry, they demand I feed them and don’t like to wait. Thirsty, needing the toilet or a hug – same story. They are aware of their needs, and expect their caretakers to fulfill them in short order. Beyond their needs, they frequently demand things they want out of life as well – to go to the park, build a fort, read this book, play that game.
My kids are eager. They are filled with energy and seem ready to enjoy all that life has to offer. They will sit still, to play with legos, craft, or read books, but they are always trying to draw joy, fun and satisfaction out of life.
And they are empathetic. My son has a book that goes through various emotions that people feel, with pictures of kids looking happy, sad, embarrassed or angry. He flips through that book and kisses all the kids who are sad, embarrassed, and angry. He is a tender little guy, constantly hugging and kissing all the stuffies in our house. He gives kisses to our carved pumpkins; I’ve even seen him kiss the floor and the wall! My daughter recognizes emotions in others as well, and gets sad thinking about other people who are sad. She has an innate drive to want to help, to alleviate the suffering of others, often offering to share half the brownies we’ve baked with our neighbor friends.
So having a childlike faith to me doesn’t mean blind acceptance and faith without intellect, as I think that sentiment gets interpreted often. Kids ask a million questions, they want to know everything! To me, a childlike faith is one that is self-aware, confident in the love of our Heavenly Father/Mother, and forceful in demanding that our own needs and those of others are met. It is feeling the pain of others, realizing that we are all connected, and somehow knowing that when one of us (humanity) is suffering, it hurts all of us.
(Just to ensure that you don’t walk away thinking I have actual angels for children, know that they are definitely working on sharing and the benefits of bringing joy to others instead of hoarding it all for themselves ;))
And just like with my actual children, those demands and needs aren’t always met right away or at all. Sometimes I tell them to wait to eat when they are hungry, because it is not yet a mealtime. Often they do not get the activity or thing they are demanding (lately my daughter keeps insisting that we build her a tree-fort in the backyard…). Sometimes the reason I say no is explained to them, other times it is not. They don’t always understand, usually because they can’t see the big picture that I am considering.
But holding it all up is the firm belief on their part, and actual Truth on my end, that they are loved. That they are worthy of having needs and having those needs be met. And that being in their position of privilege where their basic needs are always met requires them to look out and see who’s needs are going unmet, and to ask how they can help. I believe that is the childlike faith that Jesus requires of us all.
So let’s all keep demanding that “the sickness” (covid19) be gone, and keep trying to draw joy and fulfillment from this one, brief burst of life that we are gifted to live.