by Gail MacDonald
Looking back over the first nine months of 2020, most of us would agree that these are unprecedented days. We are susceptible to fear, confusion, anger or helplessness. But we can also be surprised by blessings of inspiration and gratitude.
During these times of racial unrest and COVID-19, I’ve enjoyed observing children. I love how they can inspire us with their generosity and kindness toward others. They can make us laugh, and they can calm us when we are tempted to anger.
Many children go to great lengths to help others. They invite us to sing. They challenge us to raise money and make things for first responders and the sacrificial members of the medical community. They encourage us to dance in the midst of chaos. Yes, I am drawn to them. And I want to be like them.
Jesus loved the children. He said, “Unless you become like a child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:3) Think about this: What does it mean to be childlike?
Children believe without difficulty; they are curious and can be full of wonder; they receive with delight; they are content with little things, forgive easily and are humble. Their souls have not been corrupted; they disarm us with a question most adults would be afraid to ask.
In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk on the street about police violence toward people of color. On one of those days, a three-year old girl approached a policeman and asked, “Are you going to shoot me?”
Anyone who heard her question could not help but be moved by her innocence. And she won his heart. He got down on her level, gently placed his arm around her and reassured her that would not happen.
I want to take my cues from these young ones, not from adults, some of whom have lost their ability to be childlike. Certainly, any of us is capable of coming across as childish instead of childlike, but if we are willing to listen, children can awaken something in us during this unprecedented time of needing change deep within ourselves. I have to admit that part of why I’m writing these words is that I need to become more childlike myself! When I awaken each morning, I want one of my first thoughts to be, “How can I be childlike today, Lord?”
In my eight decades of life, I’ve observed that it’s often moms, aunts and grandmas who teach and motivate little ones. Usually, it’s these women who nurture, watch out for the general health of children and use their persuasiveness to cheer them on. Some women are willing to go to great lengths to encourage a child who is on a mission to care for others!
For example, hundreds of women and children have been busy making masks for the pandemic. Michaela Munyan, a nine-year-old, has used her sewing machine to make over 500 cloth masks. Michaela has all the support she needs from the women around her, and she gives all her masks away.
Over the years, I’ve put a large part of my heart into caring for ministry wives. I’m grateful that by design ministries helps to motivate, train and encourage these women. However, what is being demanded of women during these months of no routines, added tasks, trauma and grief brings about an exhaustion that affects all relationships.
It’s an inhuman overload, wearing us down to be tempted to “Mom rage.” I heard this term for the first time recently. It is happening because what we and others are asking of ourselves is not sustainable without the help of the Holy Spirit and time to think and pray. Our families have never needed our sense of being directed from above as much as they do now. The external things—COVID-19 and our great need to right wrongs between the races—aren’t going to change quickly. But we can change, if we purpose to be open to the love of God for us in the middle of this crisis. We can fan these traits of childlikeness within ourselves and our children, asking for help with the load we carry, and eliminating anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. These responses could conspire to help us rediscover our love and joy in being carried by our Lord and to have the heart of a child.
An uplifting video to encourage you on your way.
Gail MacDonald is first a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is also an author, a speaker, and a counselor of Christian women leaders seeking encouragement and spiritual direction. She speaks on Scriptural teaching about human relationships, spiritual disciplines, and leadership dynamics.
Gail has spent more than 50 years alongside her husband who was the pastor of four congregations, ranging from the prairies of Kansas ranching country (seven miles from a paved road and twenty-five miles from the nearest town) to two suburban churches and finally to the heart of New York City.
They now live in New Hampshire, and their greatest enjoyment is spending time with their two married children and their families. Beyond this, they love to walk and bike, and are voracious readers.
Her books are: In His Everlasting Arms (Regal), The Heart of the Master (co-authored with Gordon, Servant), High Call; High Privilege (Hendrickson), and A Step Farther and Higher, (Multnomah; presently out of print).