By Matt W. Sandford, LMHC
How do my kids think and view their world? First of all, they are completely unconcerned about what I believe are the important things – such as time, orderliness, schedules, priorities, or expectations. They are never in a rush except when they are told that they can go to the playground, or a birthday party, or to visit Grandma and Grandpa or their Aunt, Uncle and cousin. They resist all attempts to hurry them, pressure them and cause them to take on urgency and priority that they just don’t care about.
Breakfast is often when the adventure begins, and the battle between this weirdo parent who thinks there is some reason to be in a hurry and those of us who know better. Why should I eat my breakfast fast, let alone why should I bother to eat it at all? Particularly when there is something so much more engaging at this moment – like my hand wants to drive this toy car over the superhero to rescue the play animals strewn on the table – or seeing how many times I can sing this song in my head, or seeing if I can come up with yet another way to get out of my seat – or there is something incredibly hilarious that I must share with my brother that only we can understand. We comply pretty much only when threatened.
When the kids are thankfully released from the prison of the breakfast table it is back to play, which I am thinking they never left in the first place. And it is on to the next battle arena – that of going to the potty and getting dressed for the day. Once again, they see no point in such things, certainly not when Dad doesn’t seem to grasp that I have to dump all the stuff animals out of their bin, or I just have to feed my babies, or I have to hide from who knows what, or that polar bears are white and live in the cold. They get dragged through the onerous rituals and then once again experience the freedom of prisoners just let out.
For my kids, life is completely about freedom. And they fight against anything restricting or attempting to steal their freedom like it’s a life or death issue. I’m talking wailing, flailing and running for the hills. But Galatians says we were made for freedom. We are called by the author to fight for freedom and challenged that we don’t fight like we should and need to. It’s like we “grew up” and forgot what to fight for.
Now I’m not equating my kid’s sense of freedom with a mature Christian understanding of our freedom in Christ. But there are similarities. My kids fight for their freedom because they love it, not because it is their right. They just want to be free and they don’t even understand living under rules and controls. They fight for their freedom because they find their joy in freedom and because in their freedom they find they can be themselves and express themselves. They know that it is there that they don’t fret about the troubles of life and that it is there that they enjoy fellowship with others who would join them there. They long for those they care about to join them there and “make their joy complete”, as my kids often invite me to “come and play with me”. And you know, in the times that I join them there, the weights of the world at least sometimes do fade away and I am drawn into the freedom of play. I wonder, if at those times, I am not being frivolous or irresponsible, but rather, if I am closer to God.
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