I have loved children since I was one myself. I loved tending to those younger than me; watching over them, carrying them around, and making them laugh. I was blessed to have a baby cousin born to my aunt and uncle who lived a short distance down a well-worn trail through the woods when I was only 10. I made a daily trek there to see him when he was small and new. It was with him I learned to give a bottle and change diapers and quiet a fussy baby. I adored him! He was a source of great joy to my own young heart.
I have never lost the ability to connect in a special way with little ones. They seem to know from very early on who loves them and to that love they respond favorably. Thinking over this just now I realized how well I remember my own early childhood, how I have never forgotten so many things about being small and having so many unanswered questions, so many thoughts for which there was no clarity. I needed answers that made sense. I needed to understand why things could be fine one minute and terribly not so the next. I needed to understand why the grown up world was so unpredictable and forever changing. I needed to know so that I could help make it better.
I think all children have this need, especially when nothing makes sense any way it is framed and frame it they will in effort to find a way to understand. When they can find no other source for the oddness of it all, most conclude it must somehow be their own fault and thus that old worrisome song begins to write itself into the tender little heart of the child. The greater the strife, the uglier the division among their loved ones, the greater the inner turmoil grows. This was never how family was meant to be.
Children delight in laughter, in peace, and in safety. They are most content when the ones they love love each other and when kindness is the flavor of daily life. Children grow well emotionally and physically when fed daily on gentleness and routine, on smiles and play, warm hugs and rocking chair rides. Children are uncomplicated when the world that surrounds them is too. Beauty is naturally found where love abounds, but when love is lacking, no amount of anything other can fill the void where it was designed to be.
I always, always come back to love defined as care in action. I do not refer to the emotional feeling one may or may not have for another because that is not what is at issue. “Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity [love] envies not; charity [love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity [love] never faileth…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) Even as a young child I was aware that a declaration of love was meaningless apart from proof through action. It is a terrible reality that many children and adults are harmed most by those who frequently say the words.
The worst part about being a child for me was how powerless I felt at times. No matter how much I wanted to make things better, no matter how many thoughts I hoped could make a difference, no matter how kind, how obedient, how anything I was it was never enough to bring about change that I knew was so desparately needed. I remember. I have not forgotten. It is all too familiar as I still have circumstances so very dear to my heart over which I have no control; troubles I cannot settle; problems I cannot fix. Don’t we all? Yet…as an adult I can choose to live in a house of peace. I can choose to honor the God of all grace as I rise each morning and lay to rest each night. I can choose to speak in kindness and live with others who do the same. I can choose and how blessed I am by the choice! How abundantly grateful I am when I come home to a place that feels like a warm embrace when I walk inside! Peace, as I’ve learned and shared with others, is found only in the presence of Jesus. I’ve looked for peace, studied the pursuit of peace, read broadly and deeply and discovered with assurance that His Words are indeed the Words of Life. He is the Prince of Peace. His message is one of hope and of great, unfailing love. I still want it for all…
Though I do not live without struggle as I’m quick to admit, I’ve surrenedered my heart as best I can to following the way of peace. I wish no harm on anyone. There is no good thing in my life that I do not wish for every life. I delight in others’ joys and hurt with those who sorrow. Through it all, the journey that has brought me here, I have never forgotten what it was like to be a child. For every single one, I wish them peace, and love, and no confusion, no turmoil and no sadness, just peace, pure and simple, undefiled by the harshness of a world beyond their understanding.