Practicing Parents

Gifts of Simplicity

open hand flower

I have noticed that those who spend time with children in a variety of roles get titles. Some titles I have been given include: VBS volunteer, leader, Sunday school teacher, team member of children’ spiritual formation, mentor, teacher, guide, shepherd…oh, and MoM.  Titles suggest that we are the ones in charge, right?!

With each of these roles, I have come to realize there is one main responsibility, to be charged with offering practical ways to nurture the spiritual life of children.    Usually, in a setting with an extremely limited amount of time.  Sometimes, in an environment that is supportive.  Most likely, with participants who are there for the snack. So why is it so surprising that we find ourselves struggling to try to find ways to incorporate prayer into the day, read scripture meaningfully, provide our children with opportunities to serve others, or to practice forgiveness and simplicity?

Do you know, though, the strangest thing has happened?   I have found that the longer I have spent time with children, the more familiar with Christ I become.

I have to admit I kind of cringe a little when I hear very well-intentioned people make statements like, “I thought I was going to get to share my great resources and profound knowledge and insight, but instead was SO surprised that I actually learned more from them?”  This seems to suggest that initially, they entered into a relationship with very little respect for the other.  And then, that there is an exchange to expect and that to be available now in this way is “in order to receive.” This which I have not seen so much in Jesus’ ministry.  Rather SO much of what I found to be truly formational has come with a cost whether with or without the blessing. Our experiences with children as caregivers often can BE the spiritual practice of simplicity or “giving up what we want so that others may receive” in and of itself.

Isn’t this one of the very first lessons we can learn from being in the presence of children?  From day one of their birth, as a new parent, we willingly resign to the truth that sleep, personal space, showers, and self-care are no longer readily available.

Simplicity : giving up what we want so that others may receive.

And we crave it.

When they become toddlers, it’s a little less of a voluntary gift as they begin to demand everything from this kitty to that snack, and her toy… all of them are mine…right now!

Simplicity : giving up what we want so that others may receive.

And we crave it

As students, we see them become more and more independent.  They get to play it out, in real life, with others who might contribute to their worth or depletion of it.  Playgrounds, cafeterias and athletic fields become the market place of what is valuable and what is leftover.  And we must let them begin to choose. We have to let go of some of our “influence”.

Simplicity : giving up what we want so that others may receive.

And we crave it

Let us be present to the times where we notice simplicity missing, and not let it pass by as another self sacrifice only.

Isn’t this is what the Lord wants to be for us, our one true desire.

Simplicity : giving up what we want so that others may receive.

And we crave Him

Charity Marrone  is a creative soul seeking to experience life wholeheartedly, most often discovering first-hand adventure with her gutsy husband, three wildly inspiring fun loving daughters, and one big hearted, mysterious step son.  You’re likely to find her avoiding the dishes and laundry, at the dining room table, piecing together reflections from reading, poetry and spiritual writings, and whatever else is on her mind that day through the spiritual practice of making messy art.  Collage is her favorite Art form–it is aMaZiNg how forgotten, discarded things can be restored into New Creation, which also reflects how her faith in God encourages her to live into Who she is, as He intends for her to be, which has meant recognizing the brokenness that must occur before the beauty is able to emerge.

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