My youngest is turning four this week. I look at her and will always see my baby. The hardest part about her turning four is that she is now older than her big sister, Margot, was when I had to tell her that her daddy died. Margot wasn’t even four yet when I sat her down to explain that she went to bed the night before while her daddy was still at work and he never made it home. And Charlotte really was just a baby. At the time I was thankful that she would wake up from her crib that morning none the wiser and, for the time being, I would only need to worry about the shattered heart of one child.
Charlotte’s first memories will always be of loss and grief. If it weren’t for pictures, I am not sure if at this point she would even have memories of life with two parents. She has grown up in an environment of unimaginable sorrow, yet my four year old is so full of innocence, joy and life. Because while Taylor never came back home to us, he did make it home and back to his eternal headquarters. Even as a toddler, Charlotte was able to accept that while we will experience pain and sadness in the broken world we live in, her daddy doesn’t know anything but love and happiness in heaven. Charlotte had to learn so very early on that it is possible for pain and joy to live in tandem.
My youngest has always been a child of faith and I pray she will always continue to grow in her relationship with Christ. She has a personality that brings a smile to everyone she encounters and is a born performer. I call her “my little filibuster” because when we say our nightly prayers, Charlotte will go on and on and on. I’m sure this is partly her way of buying time to stay up a little later and partly because she has a lot to talk to God about. She was also blessed with an incredible PreK teacher, Ms. Sarah, who taught the class to go to prayer about everything in their little worlds and Charlotte most definitely does.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”Matthew 18:2-4
Recently I was listening to a podcast that mentioned a Rabbi who often liked to remind his congregation that, “life is not a puzzle to solve, but a mystery to embrace.” A quick google search attributes this sentiment to the existentialist Soren Kierkegaard who called life “a reality to be experienced.” I prefer the Rabbi’s wording. We were not put on earth to merely experience it, but to embrace it. If you have ever seen a young child’s face around bubbles, you have seen pure excitement and wonder. It is the same amsuement we should embrace all aspects of our lives with.
A child doesn’t need to worry about understanding how the bubbles are formed or where they come from, but just enjoys them while they are there. We should even embrace the inevitable times when the bubbles pop or float away because that is part of life. What matters most is that life on earth and our experiences are a gift given to all of us AND we are also offered the gift of eternal life. The only caveat of the latter is that we have to humble ourselves and accept it. When a child is offered a present, they don’t hesitate to receive it. A child doesn’t have to worry about the cost of the present or how it was paid for. The gift of eternal life is the same for us because the transaction was already made when Christ died for all of our sins. All we have to do is accept and embrace.
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