Joshua* is always smiling. He has learned to crawl efficiently on his knees, his feet dragging behind him. He keeps his head up with carefree confidence, exposing the circular scar over his trachea. He laughs while he plays, smiling wide, revealing silver-capped teeth.
And he lights up my world.
Around seven or eight years old, he is the type of kid who picks you. He loves playing, and he loves interacting with anyone and everyone. For nearly an hour and a half, he and I rolled small plastic balls across a table, hitting them with miniature plastic dishes from the toy kitchen in the room. Whenever the balls rolled off the table, he laughed and sprinted on his knees to fetch all eight of them, no matter how far they traveled.
Aaron* spends his summer days at a community center in the middle of inner-city projects. He is never tired and never bored, and riding piggy-back never gets old. For our one day together at the community center, he was a cowboy and I was his horse. I obeyed every command: trotting upstairs, downstairs and spinning in circles. I was squeezed, I was praised, and I was given sugar cubes and water breaks. And he didn’t let go.
Bella* is a sassy five year old who never runs out of energy. When she discovers something exhilarating, she continues to engage in the activity until she’s too exhausted to work toward butterflies in her stomach. As I stood on the opposite side of the room, she sprinted to me and leaped to me like a superhero taking off for flight. Every time, I caught her. Every time, she squealed and ran back to her invisible starting line. Every time, the adrenaline rushing within excited her. And her pure joy was contagious.
Kids are simple.
They don’t ask for much. A simple ball, piggy-back ride or willingness to catch them in the air is enough to light up their world. Simply put, spending interactive time with them is enough.
The simplicity of children amazes me. They are easily overjoyed, whether physically disabled, growing up in the projects or living comfortable, average lives.
Being in college,I am mystified at the concept. There are always decisions to be made, there is always homework to be done, and focusing all my energy on enjoying one task seems nearly impossible in this multi-tasking world. Lately it has felt like nothing has gone my way, as if God has planned His will opposite of my plans.
Tonight, as I played with Joshua during a respite care night at a local church, I was taken to a place of simplicity: no fear, no worry, no thoughts about the future. My head was clear, my heart was full, and my smile was irresistible. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said to become like little children.
Keep it simple.
He will take care of the rest.
And peace and joy will consume us.