Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Six Year Old Teachers

I know I'm not alone in saying that my children are helping to make me a better person. Parenting forces one to let go of selfishness, personal agendas, and even dignity. (Who hasn't felt their last shred of dignity flee in the face of a public tantrum by a little person in their care?) My kids continue to challenge me to be more loving and caring, to live our Christian values, to reach outside my comfort zone over and over again.

Two years ago, then-six-year-old BigBro insisted that we were "not doing enough" when we made monetary and food donations to our local pantry. "There has to be more we can do, Mom. We have to help feed people who are hungry. We have to." His persistance forced me out of my general complacency. I made some calls, approached the pantry leadership, and stated my case for an exception to their volunteer age restrictions. A few weeks later, BigBro and I started volunteering at the food pantry. It is now one of the highlights of our month, a deep connection between the two of us, and the pantry has become our family's "pet project."

One month ago, six year old Princess asked me why we are the ones who get presents, when Christmas is Jesus' birthday. It didn't seem fair, to her. "Good point," I said. "What do you think Jesus would want for his birthday?" She thought about it for a few minutes, and then said that she thought Jesus would want us to take care of someone who didn't have anyone to help them.

Who needs a printed examination of conscience when I am surrounded by living, breathing ones?

We've made the decision, this year, to scale back on our own family's gifts in favor of adopting a family with real need. The kids really got into it, discussing ideas for gifts and meals, anxious to show this family the love of Christ. I find myself continually awed by their kindness, their concern, and their general giddiness for these people we've yet to meet.

This morning, we get to deliver Jesus' birthday presents. I woke early, and spent some still-dark time in prayer. How grateful I am for this family we are meeting today! They have given me -- given us -- the best gift this season: a reminder of what and Who we are about. I am touched by the humility and trust they have shown us, allowing us to be a part of their Christmas this year. I am awed by the generosity and enthusiasm of my children, anxious for their own Christmas surprises, and still so joy-filled about sharing Christmas with strangers. I am challenged by it all.

Where am I being called to humility and trust?

How can I be more generous, more enthusiastic?

Do I approach each day joy-filled, despite my own anxieties?

My six-year old teachers are so much wiser in the Way than I am. I have much to learn, so far still to go on this path.

And one more six-year old to come on the horizon....

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