The eyes of a child

There’s a passage of Scripture that recommends we all become like little children.

That’s a preposterous idea if we think about those legit crazy adults that like to carry around pacifiers and dress in diapers. Or even the less extreme folks who live with their parents their whole lives, neglecting to learn real-life skills and contribute to society.

I don’t believe that’s what the verse was saying. I do think there’s merit to it, and my daughter is slowly teaching me what it really means. Let me explain.

About a year ago our family made a trip down to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. While exploring the wooded trails that lead down to the river outlooks, we crossed paths with a family I would categorize as Indian. They had a girl around the same age as ours, dressed in dazzling traditional garb complete with a head covering.

Our gal didn’t care how the other girl was dressed, or that her skin tone was different. She simply climbed up on a bench next to her and started chattering away about who knows what. I honestly don’t even know if the other family spoke English, but Cadence communicated to them all the same.

Now, I know not all kids are like this. My daughter inherited any and all outgoing tendencies from her father, the guy who can make small talk with a complete stranger for an hour (I kid you not).

But I think you can still see my point.

I was thinking about this again recently, as I watched how unreservedly this sweet girl of mine loves someone that – flame away for this one – I don’t particularly like all of the time. I was reminded that she has none of my opinions, my judgements, my expectations. Though there are people in my life that I don’t always get along with or appreciate, and maybe some that I distance myself from because of their choices or behavior – my young child sees everyone the same.

She just loves people, and thrives in their attention. She doesn’t care what mistakes they’ve made, what lifestyle they’ve chosen, how and why they might be different from us. She doesn’t see the world through the warped views or learned bias of most adults.

Only recently has she even started noticing that some people have varying colors to their skin. I’m thankful she has yet to pick up on any hesitations I might have around some folks; I’m hopeful I can instead pick up on her wide-open approach to the community around her.

I know experiences will change her to some extent. They always do. But I desperately hope I can nurture and encourage her ability to see everyone without filters and judgements. To simply love.

In a world and a time so intensely polarized by politics, race, gender and religion, I think we desperately need to start taking the advice of that ancient text. I, for one, want to become like my little child, and love the way she does.

Cheryl Hazelton
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