A child is looking at the feather with wonder

Three Good Things About Childhood We Forget as Adults

I am a newly minted mother of two – in December my husband and I welcomed our chatty and smiley little boy to our ranks and we have a starry-eyed daughter who is five.

It is amazing how much interacting with a child (whether your own or a family member’s or friend’s) reminds you of the wonderful manner in which they view the world – how we likely viewed the world too at that age, before we “grew up” and graduated to a life of work, rent or mortgage payments, complicated friendships and the yucky sensations associated with growing up like disappointment, discouragement, and heartbreak. 

Today, I want to take a pause from being grown up and look at three wonderful things about childhood that maybe most of us have forgotten, to encourage you wherever you’re at. 


1. Approaching people untangled from an expectation of rejection

My daughter loves going to the playgrounds. Upon arriving, she vanishes almost instantly, and then reappears later with at least one or two friends. One time, she invited herself to one of her newfound friend’s family lunch. I had to go get her and explain, “They likely only bought enough for their family, and you’ve already had something to eat.”

Cut scene to me, in my thirties, with palpable anxiety ahead of any event where I don’t know a lot of people and am trying to remind myself to not be awkward. 

Rejection seems in many ways a hallmark of adulthood. We have likely experienced the sharp barbs of our teenage years where peers were more than happy to tell us where we don’t fit.

So I admire how my daughter approaches people without expecting rejection. I love the idea of being able to approach situations without worrying that in some way I won’t be enough. 

But how do we do that when expecting rejection has become our first line of defence? 

As much as we’d wish there was a quick fix to this, I suspect the best way to address the fear of rejection is to purposefully and continually shift our perspective. 

I’ve heard it said that anecdotally, at least ten percent of people will not like you. There are simply people we will never seem to ‘connect’ with, because it is impossible to be liked by one hundred percent of people, one hundred percent of the time.

Once I had a crush on a boy, and after a year of hoping he would notice me, I told him how I felt. Subsequently, he told me how he felt, which was that he didn’t like me; he liked my friend, because she was prettier. 

At that stage I was already feeling pretty low about myself. But I also realised that continuing down this track of self-loathing would end dangerously for me. 

The crushing heartbreak coincided with the end of school year holidays, so I committed that period to getting into my Bible and retraining my thought processes.

When I think of rejection, my mind goes to King David. I can’t imagine the pain he felt being not only rejected, but attacked by those close to him. Many of his griefs were recorded in the book of Psalms (Psalms 41:9-10, 55:12-14, 16-18).

Like David, when we are spurned by others, we need to fix our eyes on the One whose opinion of us outweighs everyone else’s. This doesn’t mean we don’t feel the hurt, but it is to say we process them with God and, through that process, remember that God loves us (Ephesians 3:18), so we can let His love, not people’s rejections, be our starting point (& safety net) for approaching others.

I wonder how much more we would get out of life if we abandoned our preset of expecting rejection—remembering that we’ve been wholly accepted by God—and approached life as my daughter approaches the local playground, ready and eager to engage with whoever wants to engage with us.


2. Approaching life with a sense of wonder

The other day, Gigi and I spent a good while learning about clouds. It was a crisp autumn day, and the sky was an array of different clouds; some looked like big fluffy comical things, while others were long wisps. 

‘Why are they all different, Mummy?’ she asked, and I knew vaguely that it had to do with altitude and other odds and ends, but to be certain we googled and looked at pictures and Gigi was in awe.

Later, I was struck by just how easily I shuffle through life with my head down, and miss the everyday wonder of life. 

Many of us live in cities with tall buildings, big roads, and light and noise pollution. Our attention is constantly pulled by something – advertising on the buses we’re catching, billboards on the side of the motorway, our phones and other things we put in front of us.

What might it look like for you to take a small yet significant step back so you can set your eyes on the heavens? On the beauty of what God has made and cultivate a sense of wonder?

I love how Jesus encourages His followers in Luke 12:22-28 to consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field – He’s literally saying, look at nature, to untangle yourself from worries. 

Like Gigi, who will often stop and stare at something (a bug, a flower, a feather), I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to consider creation and cultivate a sense of awe of our Creator. 

This might look like a walk around the block without my headphones, to listen to the birds, the sound of leaves rustling in the trees. Or a beach visit where, allowing the sounds and the sights to take centre stage, I’m reminded that while my difficulties feel massive, there is the much bigger God who cares for me. 


3. Taking our time to do things

‘Why is it always a rush?’ Gigi asked me one day when we had stalked out of school with no more than a brisk ‘hey’ to those we knew, thrown her belongings in the boot, and boosted out of the school car park. 

I knew the answer. There’s my grizzly baby who wanted to sleep or eat or both, the school car park gets diabolical from three in the afternoon, the motorway gets busier, and I just wanted to get home without one or both of my children getting shouty in the car because of the traffic.

As adults, we love efficiency. We know we only have X number of hours in our day, between getting up, going to work, doing all the stuff, and winding down with a little bit of time before sleep. So we work out all the variables to ensure that things are efficient so we can survive.

But sometimes we rush too much, and we may miss opportunities on connection and the blessing of lingering. 

In my case, I could feed Fritz at school, then let him have a nap in his stroller while Gigi played on the playground and I connected with the parents who hang around a bit after the bell. I know the times I’ve done this, things have generally been positive, and we’ve had wonderful conversations and friendship. 

I heard on the radio the other day that children only really truly understand the concept of ‘future’ when they are around 16. Before then, it is a relatively remote concept. Like my daughter constantly asking when her birthday is, all while having no concept of how long ‘five months’ is. 

As adults, we think we know the future, and we try to manage it by removing as many variables as we can. But perhaps sometimes we need to be a little less “in control” of the future?

Being a parent of two is full on, but my daughter and son teach me things and remind me that life isn’t about ticking boxes and rushing on this conveyor belt of paying mortgages and doing laundry.

But life is about living and living for the glory of God.

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