How to Remain a Child

I often think of Einstein’s words: There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”


Children live with a sense of awe. Sometimes I’m afraid that the pain in this life will chip away at my sense of wonder until it crumbles. After receiving a blog-prompt e-mail from Compassion International* earlier this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to remain a child, regardless of age. Two literary characters have shaped my thinking: 1) Agatha Trunchbull from Matilda by Roald Dahl 2) The elderly cousin in “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote.

Agatha Trunchbull may be the cruelest villain in children’s literature. Although Dahl’s writing is humorous, Trunchbull is overtly abusive, both verbally and physically. Her mouth spews insults upon the children at the school she runs, the least of which is calling them “blisters.” She throws children like shot puts. And, this is what struck me:   She claims to have never been a child.

The second character actually lived on this earth, and she remains alive in Truman Capote’s personal essay. She was his elderly cousin, his best friend, the adult in his family who loved him best. She knew how to keep the spirit of Christmas, baking thirty cakes to give to others each year. She tamed hummingbirds. She looked forward to meeting the Lord. But this description of her has proved indelible in my mind: “She is still a child.”

The first character is someone no one would want to emulate, and her central problem is this: She’s forgotten what it was like to be a child. The second character is eccentric, imperfect, fun, tender-hearted, and beloved. She is old only on the outside, for no part of her has become cynical or jaded. She still hopes. She still gets excited! She loves hard. She notices the beauty of the earth, and she has faith in God.

This Christmas season, let us pray that God will peel away the weary, adult-constructed armor from our tender hearts, that he will dissolve the glaze of “ordinary” from our eyes. Let us watch the children, imitate their enthusiasm, and remember . . . .

We are still children, of a gracious and loving Savior.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

Will you help me come up with ways to remain a child? It should be easier this month! I’ll start our list with what I did today. 🙂

  1. Ride a Ferris wheel, and see the world from a different point of view.
  2. Pet a goat, a donkey, a sheep, and a piglet at a petting zoo. Pause to think of the gentle animals that witnessed Jesus’s birth.
  3. Be surprised by tears coming to your eyes when a store window comes to life with a real ballerina dancing to “O Holy Night.”
  4. Share a giant bag of fresh kettle corn with friends.
  5. Thank God for every “little” miracle of the day. (Today, unbeknownst to me, my purse fell out of my car when I opened the door to hug a friend goodbye. A stranger knocked on my window and returned it to me!)

*If you don’t already sponsor a child, would you consider giving yourself a wonderful gift as well as blessing a sweet little boy or girl? Please click here to see if one of their faces captures your heart.