While visiting Simeon and Heather the last few days, Marion, Bethany and I have had many opportunities to observe and interact with their wonderful little girl Sophie. Her simple, unpretentious two-year-old approach to life has reminded me of some basic life principles that are all too easily overlooked.
First and foremost, the most basic and foundational fact of Sophie’s life is that she knows her Mama and Papa love her. A two-year-old’s security and identity come mostly from her parents, and Sophie is evidently very secure in Heather and Simeon’s affection. She doesn’t spend a lot of time analyzing this or wondering about her identity, she just knows that they love her. She gives and receives affection easily and freely.
But although Simeon and Heather love their little girl dearly, she doesn’t get away with much. Sophie has been taught to know her boundaries; she knows certain things are not allowed. Although she occasionally crosses a line, she usually knows that she has done so, and is not surprised, shocked or offended at being corrected. She knows Mama’s computer chair is off limits, and that if she sits in it, she will be told to get down. She evidently has been trained to accept both correction and direction, and she receives both very readily.
Further, within her boundaries, Sophie has a lot of freedom to play, explore and learn. Two-year-olds have a simple, uncomplicated approach to life, and it never seems to occur to Sophie to question whether her parents have the right to establish limits for her. Her parents’ affection, and the limits they have established for her, are two realities that work together to provide a secure, safe and well-grounded world for a young child. Her parents have provided her with many opportunities to enjoy life, and she evidently doesn’t spend a lot of time fighting the boundaries that they have established. Rather, those boundaries provide her with security and a structure within which she can explore, play, learn and grow.
Something else I’ve noticed is that unless she is very tired, Sophie doesn’t sit still for long. She is very active and curious, constantly learning new things. Of course this is one of the most appealing attributes of young children. When someone gives Sophie a present, her typical response is “Wow!”. This characterizes her approach to life, which is full of wonder, joy and the thrill of new discoveries.
Sophie knows when to rest, and even looks forward to nap times. This is a wonderful attribute, one which I admit is not true of all two-year-olds (I speak from personal experience – Marion and I had four of our own!). Like most young children — not to mention adults — if Sophie doesn’t get enough rest, she gets cranky. But the good thing is that even though she loves to be active, she doesn’t fight rest — in fact she welcomes it.
If Sophie gets into some kind of trouble, she knows where to look for help. She cries, wails, asks for comfort – but then she is off again into some activity, the latest crisis forgotten. She doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. There are too many things exciting things to do, learn and explore.
Sometimes I think my life as an adult would be a lot simpler and easier if I remembered a few of these basic life lessons.
My identity and security come from my Father’s acceptance. As His son through Jesus Christ, I don’t need to wonder about my identity or question whether He loves me; He has given me ample evidence of His faithfulness and care. His affection is readily available and He is always near.
Boundaries are good for me. There are places I should not go, things it is better for me not to do. Further, I usually know when I have crossed a line because the Holy Spirit inside me whispers to me, telling me “Papa won’t like that”.
If I cross a boundary, my Father has a perfect right to correct me, and if I want to keep my relationship with Him uncluttered, it is best for me to accept this easily and quickly, without struggle.
Within the boundaries He has established, I have a lot of freedom. My Father is incredibly good to me, and has provided me with vast opportunities to learn, grow, explore and exercise the gifts and abilities He has given me.
I wasn’t made to sit around and mope or be bored. I was made to be active, to use my abilities, to cultivate wonder and joy.
Rest is good. It is good to know when to accept my need to rest and be quiet. I need to rest not only my body, but also my mind, emotions and spirit. I don’t have to manage or control everything; somehow, God will manage without me while I take time to be restored.
If I get into trouble, I know where I can go for help, and I don’t need to waste any time feeling sorry for myself, or pretending I can manage on my own. Like Sophie, I simply need to ask Father for the help I need, accept the help He offers without struggling against it, and then get on about what He has for me to do next.
Of course, we are supposed to grow up to maturity in Christ – and there are aspects of discipleship and sacrifice that a two-year-old can’t understand. But this week I’ve been reminded that even though I am called to maturity in Christ, in a very real sense I will always be my Father’s child. Being a mature disciple has a lot to do with keeping things simple, focussing on His love and acceptance, being quick to receive the Spirit’s direction and correction, staying active in my walk with God, cultivating wonder and joy, and remembering to rest in Him. Maybe if more adult Christians remembered these things, we would have healthier, more vibrant churches, and fewer moral failures among leaders. Thanks, Sophie, for the reminders. I hope and pray that you remember these things as you grow up in God.