Monday, April 30, 2012

Life Lessons From My Kids

I'm a seasonal reader. I go through spurts of devouring books and then I put them down for a bit. Even if it's a terrible read, I force myself to finish a book that I start. This makes little sense outside of my own discipline. I can't force myself to move to an electronic reader, I appreciate hard copy books. I am currently reading books on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Wooden. In my youth, I used to read fiction. Now, I'm almost exclusively a reader of non-fiction books - mostly those on faith, life, and business or the interweaving of the three. I read these books, make notes, and discuss with others. Some have made an impact on my daily life. However, I'm often reminded that some of the greatest life lessons can be learned from children. Luckily, I have two boys to teach me great things. Recently, I've been enlightened to three principles integral to living life well, each taught to me by children.

On a recent spring afternoon, my two boys and I were walking through the parking lot, heading to the store. Brady, our four-year-old, stopped and said that he needed to go back to the car to get something. We circled back and opened the car. Brady crawled into the vehicle and came out wearing his bright orange construction goggles. He climbed out of the car and started again toward the store.

Me: "Why did you get those, Brady?"
Brady: "I wanted to wear them into the store."
Older Brother: "I don't think that you want to wear them in there, Brady, people will see you."
Brady: "I don't care, I like them."

We need to care much less about what people think of us and, instead, live life full, happy. If you're inclined to wear bright orange construction goggles into the store, then wear them proudly. Kirk Franklin said, "You want to be great? Stop trying to be liked."

If you haven't seen the You Tube video of Caine's Arcade yet, take ten minutes and watch it. This young man built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his father's used auto parts garage. I won't spoil the story, but in short, Caine never gets discouraged and builds his dream with a smile no matter the circumstance. Author Seth Godin commented, "The goal wasn't to be accepted, that goal was to do it right."

Our oldest son, Carson, frequently reminds us of the profound idea of deep trust highlighted in Psalm 56:3. The Psalmist writes, "When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Carson drew a word picture of this verse that hung on our refrigerator for some time. I took a photo of his picture that I keep on my phone as a daily reminder. Carson uses this verse to sustain him through anxious times and encourages his mother and me when our days spiral chaotic. As adults, we muddy up the middle too often seeking complex solutions to stress mitigation. Carson's childlike faith calls us to stop, clear our minds, and know that our fears, anxieties, and worries are best alleviated when our trust is rooted in something bigger than ourselves. The Biblical narrative repeatedly calls us to "fear not" and, in turn, "trust." Most self-help books often end up in a similar place: step out of ourselves, hold onto something deeper, and trust. The Psalmist knew the shelter to life's storms isn't built by our own hands, but in trusting the Hands that hold us all. Carson knows this too.

Many times we pass through our days without stopping to appreciate the showers of blessings and gifts that are all around us. Last week, Brady missed a day of pre-school with a headache and a slight fever. He slept most of the day. The next morning, the pitter patter of little feet on wooden steps woke us. As Brady came down the stairs, he called for us. "Mom, Dad..." he said. "You know that head hurt that I had yesterday, it's almost gone!" The fact that he was feeling just a bit better had him wildly excited about the opportunities to play that he would now be able to embrace. He was marveled and amazed about the healing process of our bodies. He was thankful. Lisa Bergren writes, "Every morning when we wake, we choose to encounter the day as something to be survived or something to be welcomed. On this day I choose joy (laughter)." Brady could have opened his eyes to the day frustrated that remnants of a headache remained. Instead, he chose cart- wheeling joy that the headache was almost gone.

There are many lessons to be learned from children, if only we have eyes to see them. Live life full and happy, giving much less regard to what others think. Replace fear with trust, understanding these life stories are best written when they're about something bigger than us. And, be joyfully thankful, choosing an attitude of hope each day. These are meaningful lessons I've learned from my children. May they be undercurrents in your lives, lived well.

1 comment:

Marcus Goodyear said...

I saw Caine's Arcade last week or the week before. Incredible video and story.

And a strong reminder not to let fear prevent us from being creative.

I try and try to trust God, but often it is easier for me to hear the voices that poke fun rather than the voices that encourage.