It's fascinating to me how we as adults can often learn lessons from a young child. We are the parents, yet we can learn so much from these young people whom we are trying to raise.
I learned such a lesson just over the last couple of days from my almost 4-year-old, Joelle.
Do you ever wish that we could see things the way children do? They don't see people for how they look on the outside. They see people for WHO they are. It's as simple as that. They don't look at an overweight person and judge them for being fat; they're just thankful that they spend time with them. They don't look at someone with poor taste of clothes and laugh at them for their lack of fashion sense; they just remember that they told them they were special. They don't look at someone of a different color and pass judgement on them because they are "different" than them; they just want a friend to play with.
Wow. Can you imagine how much of a better world we would live in if we saw people the way kids see people?
We have a neighbour boy who hasn't been our favorite person over the last several months. There are reasons for this that I don't need to get into. The fact remains, we weren't looking at him -- or his parents -- through the eyes of a child.
I have often struggled with this child over the past months and how to react to him and I know that I have not always acted towards him with Christian love. I have felt convicted on many occasions to reach out to this boy and perhaps give him the attention that he is so obviously searching for. This young boy has lately been asking Joelle to play with him on a fairly regular basis. My first reaction, I'm ashamed to admit, was "I don't want Joelle playing with him."
But then I saw how Joelle's eyes lit up everytime he would ask her to come and play with her. She was just excited that someone wanted to play with her. Someone was taking an interest in her. She didn't look at him and see his faults. She looked at him and saw a boy looking for a friend to play with. Someone who was wanting to share his time with her.
I have again been feeling convicted to reach out. Not only to this young boy, but to the rest of his family as well. And this time I have obeyed God's nudging. And you know what I have discovered? I have discovered that we were depriving our children of making new friends with these neighbors. I was too busy caught up in my own little world with my little corner of the neighborhood, not leaving any room for anybody else.
I'm not saying I need to be best friends with all of my neighbors. That just isn't naturally going to happen. But I can be friendly and neighborly with everybody I come in contact with. And I have seen the faces of both of my children as they have been "let loose" to enjoy these new contacts with other children their ages. They have a little girl who is just under a year old, and Malia is fascinated with her. And Joelle loves playing with the oldest boy.
I'm not saying that it's always going to be easy to be neighbors with this family. I'm sure we will have our struggles as our parenting styles seem quite different. But there is no reason we can't socialize with them and enjoy each other's company.
And look at them through the eyes of a child.