Embrace the childlike spirit within

No matter where we are in life, nurturing qualities such as joy, purity, and innocence empowers us to experience God’s promise of peace and healing.

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In the Bible, Jesus speaks of how we must be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Jesus loved little children because of their freedom from wrong and their receptiveness of right,” explains Mary Baker Eddy, founder of The Christian Science Monitor (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 236). When I think of little children, I think of qualities of freedom, joy, light, innocence, purity – wonderful qualities for people of all ages.

I’ve found that the more I learn about and embrace my relation to God, our divine Parent, the more naturally I express these childlike qualities and experience the promise of God’s kingdom here and now.

When I was in my 20s, I tried to be anything but childlike. Among other things, I certainly did not want to be told what to do by a parent – either human or divine!

But life quickly became complicated. I was a bit like the son in a story Jesus once told, who lived frivolously and did all kinds of stuff that wasn’t very childlike. Eventually, he lost everything and was filled with shame and guilt and humbly returned home. I never really lost everything in the sense of being destitute and reduced to longing to eat even what was being served to pigs, as this guy did. But I certainly felt as though I had lost my innocence, joy, and peace. Deep down I knew I was doing things I didn’t feel right about. So for all my effort to try to “escape” or feel more free and just have fun and be happy, I actually felt trapped.

Around that time, in a conversation with a friend, she said, “You know, you’re not very good at being bad, and you’re not bad at being good... so just be you.”

It took me a while to figure out who that “me” truly is, but eventually I came to see that the most authentic way to think of myself is as the child of God. As God’s child I reflect and express true innocence, purity, freedom, and joy, as does each and every one of us.

This spiritual identity never changes, no matter what the material picture looks like. We each have a direct, constant, and continuous relation to our divine Parent that never wavers and is ever intact. When we are truly receptive to this spiritual fact, as a little child is receptive to good, we find that we can trust our Father-Mother God to provide for our every need, including healing, guidance, and peace of mind.

That’s what I’ve found in my own experience, as I’ve more humbly and wholeheartedly embraced my innate childlikeness. Unhealthy, unproductive routines naturally dropped away – but my life isn’t boring at all! And when I listen for God’s direction, things are much less clouded or complicated than they once seemed.

Mrs. Eddy once said in a speech: “Beloved children, the world has need of you, – and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 110).

Being free, joyful, and good is inherent in our nature as children of God. Sometimes these qualities may seem buried under the weight of the responsibilities and burdens of life, or covered by negative views we’ve held about ourselves or others. But they are there for each one of us to rediscover. As my little nephew so wisely put it when he was 4 or 5 years old: “I don’t think you’re really a grown-up. I’ve only ever heard of ‘God’s children,’ not ‘God’s adults.’”

As we embrace that childlike spirit within us, we also find a more tangible sense of the kingdom of heaven – God’s peace and harmony – within us. We feel more of our God-given joy. No matter what stage of life we’re at, we can choose each moment to shed the layers of material thinking and negativity and nurture the child within us, and find the promise of peace and fulfillment right where we are.

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