As I thank God for the children in my life that teach me so much about God, it would not be complete if I didn’t share what I learned from my second little “Shadow.”“The verse God brought to my heart was, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” from Matthew 18:3.
Just to refresh our memory, My eldest niece (#ALC Pt.1) taught me about intimacy with God– desiring to be close to Him when I have the option to be far; preferring Him over the many distractions that bombard my heart for His affection. “Chunk,” (#ALC Pt. 2) taught me about casting all my cares on the Lord– giving Him the full weight of my troubles and allowing His comfort; making a standing appointment with Him and keeping it. I referred to Chunk lightly as “Shadow,” but it wasn’t until my next little sweetie came in the picture that I got a TRUE understanding of what a helicopter CHILD really was.
“Well my grandson absolutely loves your program Miss Jerrica.” This was music to my ears whenever a parent/guardian affirmed their and their child’s satisfaction with my former after school program. “So, I was thinking that I would send my granddaughter here as well… she is a handful though.” Of course I welcomed the the child into the program. I was excited when we got new children. Grandma went on to tell me that Shadow was not like other children. She was loud, clingy, would avoid doing homework like the Black Plague, and that the is a winer and cryer. From my previous experience with Chunk, I felt like I had this in the bag. Grandma went on to register her and I told her she could start next week Monday.
Shadow’s first week was fun. She was a bright and bubbly 5 year old, and EVERYTHING her grandmother said about her was true to the “T” from Day 1! Shadow asked me to come to the bathroom with her and would cry in terror if I tried to leave from the door (where I stood so I could hear that the children were not in there horse-playing). She would talk and talk and talk while she used the bathroom and if I snuck away or didn’t answer because I was in the process of sneaking away, when she came out, she would give me an ear full about how I had left her all alone. Shadow followed me EVERYWHERE! If I didn’t occupy her with a snack, she would follow ME to the bathroom.
Soon, just like with Chunk, we had a rhythm. I took the time to learn Shadow– what she liked, what made her cry, what made her happy, and what motivated her to get homework done. I anticipated her meltdowns and planned strategies to make them shorter and fewer. I also learned to use the restroom before she got there. What taught me the most about Shadow was when she arrived at the door. I knew the time grandma came to drop Shadow off. Shadow would run up to the door (which I learned to leave unlocked until she arrived or she’d ring the bell relentlessly). She would take this stance like a runner getting ready to start a race, or like a football player, who was about to start a play. Then, with all her might, she would push through the two doors separating us and run full force right into me. She would wrap her arms as far around me as they would go, and push her little face into my belly (yes, ignoring the invisible “kid, please take two steps back” sign on my shirt, lol) and scream, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MISS JERRICA!!!” and then she would look up at me and flash her little smile and hold my hand until our next routined stop to the bathroom. Immediately, she would tell me about her day and then we would move forward as scheduled.
Shadow taught me a few things that can be summed up in scripture:
- “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” Psalm 100:4. The way that this child came into a room and ignored every other child and adult and ran straight for me left me feeling seen, acknowledged, and loved. It challenges me to think of how seen, acknowledged, and loved God feels when I come into His house focused on Him, giving Him praise, giving Him my affection, giving Him my all. It motivates me to take my stance at the door that I am going to give God the best of me and let the whole place know I love Him, not for other’s attention, but for His, because I really love HIM!
- “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” James 4:8a. Shadow came close often. Shadow did not comprehend boundaries or personal space. She always wanted hugs and high fives. She challenged me to come close to God often. Be so close to God that He knows and anticipates your every movement (although He already knows). The beauty in it for us is that while He knows our movement, closeness allows us to sense His. I want to move in the pattern of how God moves. I want to be in His every footstep.
- “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” Ruth 1:16. Shadow reminded me of Ruth. Where I went, she went. Where I stayed, she stayed. The people I was with, was the people she was with. Love that I showed to others, was the Love she showed to others. I want to move with God like that, and we can. Like Shadow, we just need to lock hands with God and do not let go.
Children are such good teachers about how God wishes to move with and through us. He does not forbid children access to Him. Access to Him invites intimacy with Him– learning Him and learning yourself through Him. He wants us to come as little children because little children are dependent on their parents. They have a different kind of seek when they cannot find them. Children go to their parents for EVERYTHING. That’s the kind of relationship God wants with us. When we come as children, we mature properly and do not end up as adults in the faith with defects– rebellion, pride, and selfish ambition. We are: “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness,” Colossians 2:7. Come, as little children.
#ALC #shadow #refreshher