When our three year-old was processing all sorts of deep three year-old thoughts, she wanted to stay up with the three of us and keep cuddling (rather than going to bed, alone, at an appropriate time for a three year-old). Our conversation went something like this:
E: “I know that it’s OK to be sad and cry, Mom, but I’m also remembering that it’s not OK for my sadness to “go off of this path of sadness” (she held out her right hand; in our family that indicates the path of faith, righteousness, wise choices, blessings, and safety) “and onto this path of anger and having a fit” (she held out her left hand to indicate the path of sin, disobedience, foolishness, selfishness, painful consequences, DANGER). “But Mom? I just don’t know how to CHANGE—to get off of ‘this path’ (sinful anger) and onto ‘this path'” (sadness, but not sinning).
Me: “Oh, dear, lovely child. Isn’t that the question of the ages? Did you know that every person we know struggles with this question? Mommy. Daddy. Friends. At different times, we all want to stay on the path of self–the path that leads to danger and pain. And there is only One Person in the whole world who NEVER wanted to go down that path and NEVER DID go down that path; He always delighted to do the will of the Father. Can you tell me Who lived a sinless life?”
(She pointed straight up to the sky.) (Yay for Q.49 in the Children’s Catechism!)
I said: “That’s right, Jesus.”
She said: “I pointed to the sky because Jesus is God. One God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (Yay again for Children’s Catechism! Q.6-Q.8)
Me: “Yes, He is. And He is the way that we change, E. When we put all of our faith in Him and His perfectly staying on the path of righteousness; when we believe that He died for our sins and was raised from the dead (“Easter!”); when we cry out to Him for help? The Bible says that God always hears our prayers and He helps us in our hour of need. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness: His Spirit lives in our hearts, we have His Word (the Bible), the church (being fed by the preaching of the Word, the sacraments, and built up by the fellowship of the saints) … we have hope and confidence for change!“
That calmed down my little love-bug, we snuggled a bit more, and then she happily went back to her bed and was asleep in moments.
What a wonderful child. And what a sweet reminder of how we change! I think I’ll go and pick up a few of my (well-worn) CCEF books and do a little re-reading on this topic:
- How People Change
- Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change
- Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection
[A repost from 2013]