The Wonder of a Child

2 08 2011

My youngest son, Gabriel, turned three today, and we have celebrated his birthday three times: on Saturday with family,  on Sunday some family and friends, and yesterday with a trip to Sea World.  Since it was hot enough to bake a cake, we spent a lot of time in the Lost Lagoon (Sea World’s Water Park).  Recently, I wrote a post about “being in the moment,” and this time, Gabriel taught me about being childlike.

You see, after sometime in the water park, my wife, her brother, his fiancé, and Gabriel went to the Sesame Street Bay of Play.  (I was with Bryan on his favorite rollercoaster.) In the Bay of Play, there is a show called the “Sunny Day Celebration.”  The show uses characters from Sesame Street including Elmo, Abby, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Zoe to help Sea World move some product.  (Sorry, that is the cynic in me.)  After the show, the characters come down and pose for pictures with the kids.

The rest of this story was relayed to me by wife.  Since Elmo is the big star, the rest of the characters interact with the kids for “free,” but there is a small fee for a picture with him.  As a parent, I want my to capture my sons’ moments of delight, and since Elmo is easily Gabriel’s favorite Sesame Street character, I wanted to capture his moment of meeting Elmo.  At this show, Gabriel got to meet and hug all of the characters from the show including Elmo.  His eyes lit up, and he a had smile was a big as Texas! (I live in Texas and everything is bigger here (including pride in our state!))

Simply put, he was in wonder, and he was so excited to meet them that he just put his arms around them and hugged.   The wonder of a child.  He enjoyed the shows, laughed at all the jokes, and was amazed by the whale jumps and splashes of water in the face.  He didn’t view anything with cynicism and didn’t question that the characters were people in costumes.  He was enjoying what life brought him.

After hearing that story, I wished that I was there.  I love to see the boys enjoying the small (and big) things in life.  I am little envious of their sense of wonder.  In the bible, Jesus tells his disciples that unless they become like little children, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

His instruction has to do with the position we take.  Do we “try” to be a leader?  Do we “try” to live piously?  Jesus tell us to stop trying and just BE.  Be delighted, be surprised, be enthusiastic, be kind, be courteous, be friendly!  Just be.  Don’t try.  There is also an opposite side to His instruction…don’t be.  Don’t be anxious, don’t be judgmental, don’t be rude, don’t be defensive, don’t be fake.

In Philippians, Paul adds to Jesus advice and gives some instructions about prayer and gratitude. Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  “Anything” and “every” are interesting words to me.  I like to believe that there are things and times about which I should worry or try to handle on my own.  However, Jesus and his servant Paul tell me otherwise.

I believe the quest to control our lives often leads to more pain and discomfort than if we simply were.  Anxiety in the workplace?  Fearing the opinions/judgment of others? Worried about bills, money, other “cares of the world?” We try to manipulate others, to pretend everything is ok, ignore reality and the hurts we have caused, and compromise our integrity. Instead, be like a child.  Enjoy ALL of life’s moments.  Hopefully, the next time you see Elmo, you will remember you can live life like a child.

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