by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

I wanted to get up and dance, but I didn’t. I was suddenly reminded of my daughter’s marble paperweight with the inscription, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” But, hundreds of people would be watching if I stood up and started dancing. Consequently, I unhappily restrained my desire and stayed seated.

Oh, how I wished I was a child again as I watched dozens of little ones dancing and jumping around in front of the stage. My husband and I were attending an outdoor concert. It was great fun except all the adults were sitting in their chairs while the children, it seemed to me, were having the most fun.

Did I really care what others would think? Well… yeah. I did. But why? When did I lose my impetuous, uninhibited child self? How can I recapture the unbridled freedom I had in my early childhood? I so miss that freedom.

Somehow I had managed to put myself into a grown-up box, which basically meant I was, like many adults — taking myself too seriously. But I didn’t want to.

I can think of a few adults who seem to have managed to hold on to their childlikeness. My step dad is one of these fortunate grown-ups. An example of this is when he is in church and inspired by a soloist performance and lets out a resounding “Amen!” It matters not that his is the only voice heard. He follows his heart. Or my mom — does she worry about anyone seeing her walk around in her swimsuit? No way! Her joy of swimming fills her thoughts. I’ve often longed to be more like them.

Christ Jesus once gave his disciples — and all of us who read his teachings now — some serious advice on the import of maintaining the heart of the child. In fact he said, “for such is the kingdom of God.” This instruction came on the heels of his disciples arguing among themselves about who should be the greatest among them. He told them the “childlike” are the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

I’ll never forget a lesson learned from my daughter when she was very young. A little boy joined her Sunday School class whose skin color was different from hers. She didn’t think he was a different “race” (although he was). She innocently told her nanny that this new boy had as good a tan as she had. Her nanny has an olive complexion as well as a great tan because she loves the outdoors and often swims in her pool.

It seems to me that our childlikeness is our natural self, and “stuff” is learned as we grow up that would rob us of our child hearts. I suspect everyone knows what stuff I’m talking about, so I will not waste space now reviewing all of it. I want to focus only on our childlikeness.

God created us childlike — full of wonder, in a state of perpetual discovery, curious, compelled by fascination, satisfied by simple joys, spontaneous, trusting, obedient, confident, expectant, innocent, eager to learn, with a humble spirit, forgiving, ready to explore and investigate, filled with the spirit of adventure, unconditionally loving. Since this is how God created each of us, we can’t lose these qualities. We only stop remembering our childlike self. But childlike is what we “truly” are. So, we need only be willing to rediscover this self.

I’m working on living my childlikeness. The next outdoor concert we attended, I got up and danced like nobody was watching. My husband said they were watching. But that thought didn’t cross my mind. I was too busy enjoying the moment. Thank you, God, for giving us the gift of a child heart! I will do my best to never forget it again!