Being a grown-up is much harder than I imagined. As a child I pictured eating my desert first and staying up as late as I wanted. Turns out, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Just a tish.
There are bills and bullies, taxes and trials, diseases and duties. Being a grown-up means you face these things head on, you can’t always hide in your bankie fort with a flashlight and a book. You can only do that once in a while.
In our teenage years of angst we were told, “Stop acting like a child!” I think that’s where it all went wrong. Because writers love to hyper-ventilate over word choices, I’m going to wax eloquent over the difference between acting like a child and acting childish.
When the grownup life gets too hard,
we can act childish.
Acting childish is behaving like a child who needs correction. We might pout when we don’t get our own way, whether someone took our parking place or our promotion. When angry we might stomp our feet, throw something, or my personal favorite, slam a door. We call names, although we adults are mature enough to do this behind backs not to their faces. Admit it, we do those things we don’t let our kids do.
Instead of acting childish,
we should be child-like.
Acting child-like is maintaining all the admirable qualities of children. They discover little joys in the midst of a great big world. Their wonder at the world around them doesn’t completely dim in dark situations. Being child-like is finding joy in people, nature, and the world around.
Being child-like is seeking comfort from loved ones.
Their first source of inspiration is from relationships. A smile, a hug, or a gentle word makes everything better. When children need comfort, they cry or reach up with chubby little arms. We don’t outgrow this need, but we might stop asking. Human touch is so comforting and healing that touch-deprivation is an understood medical condition. When we reach our arm flab may flap, but reach out anyway.
Being child-like is letting nature delight and soothe your soul.
Children notice the wonder of nature. Animal-shaped clouds, crumb-carrying ants, or a bird’s song inspire delight. When outside, their wobbly legs can barely keep up with their curiosity. They have to know, experience, and feel.
David Brainerd, a distant relative and early missionary to Native Americans, suffered bouts of depression. Several biographers noted that he journaled only about the hardships of nature, not the beauties. In his biography on Brainerd, Jon Piper said, “It is a sad thing that Brainerd was blinded (perhaps by his suffering) to one of God’s antidotes to depression.” Seek the Creator in His creation.
Being child-like is marveling at simple things.
Children point and jabber when they spot inventions in our world we no longer marvel at, like planes, trains, buses, and construction equipment. They can be captivated by watching a ceiling fan, water rivulets patterning a window, or Mom’s mixer. Their little fingers love to turn knobs, poke into holes, and throw things.
Being child-like is engaging your senses.
Children engage all their senses every day to experience the world. I’m not suggesting you start licking everything on your desk when you’re frustrated, but engage your senses in a new way. We all know to light a candle, but how about bringing a cedar branch into your home? Listen to new music. Try a new food. Delight in a new sensory adventure.
Being child-like is believing God at His Word.
Children heard the Lord Jesus calling and climbed into His lap. Then they listened. We know the promises of God, but we fail to put them into practice. He said He’d never leave or forsake us, but we feel forgotten. He said He hears and answers prayers, but we feel our prayers hitting the ceiling. The grown-up world is a lot easier to face with child-like faith.
Need ways to restore child-like joy in your life?
- learn a new game
- read a joke book
- ask someone to pull your finger
- skip down the sidewalk
- smell ALL the flowers
- watch cartoons
- buy a beloved toy or candy from childhood
- talk into a fan
- keep a pet ladybug for a day, then tell her to fly away home
- finger-paint with ketchup and mustard
- hang your painting on the fridge
- pick a dandelion bouquet
- chew Bubble-Yum and blow big bubbles (watch out for spider eggs)
- jump rope
- give someone a wet-willy
- play hopscotch
- take a nap
- cuddle with a soft bankie
- eat with your fingers
- sit in your Father’s lap
- ask Him for help
- snuggle as you wait for His answer
- uncross your fingers! He’ll answer!