I live in an overwhelming world. There are things that need to get done, bills that need to be paid, conversations I need to overanalyze. And if I’m not doing it now than I’m planning when I will get it done. If I’m not looking forward, then I’m looking to the past. I’m thinking about things I’ve done and ways I’ve messed up andam constantly evaluating my life to try and avoid making the same mistakes again.
There’s always so much that has happened and so much that will happen.My world is often overwhelming and all encompassing.
I’ve had a lot of chances to love children as part of my job. I’ve been a nanny for the last six years and have seen my friends’ children grow from infants to toddlers to little people. I have loved them each deeply and fiercely and will always have a space in my heart for each of them. But I would be lying if I said that I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Often, working with children brings me face to face with my own shortcomings: my impatience, my perfectionism, and my inclination to try to avoid the present.
There are mornings where emotions are running high, the house is a mess, and I have to explain, again, to the two-year-old that he can’t use his baby brothers’ head as a drum set, no matter how fun that may seem. Moments where everyone is tired, cranky, and inexplicably sticky bring up my frustrations, fears, and feelings of inadequacy. Being unable to retreat from these seemingly intrusive and repetitive needs of a small human still learning to manage himself is both taxing and boring at the same time.
Because I don’t like these feelings, I try to withdraw from them by being somewhere else, planning something else, or literally doing anything else other than living in this often-exhausting present moment that I’m in.
I’ve learned that toddlers’worlds are both very big and very small. Their world is in the moment – who theyare with, where they are, and what they are feeling. These may seem like small things, and yet, those feelings are still the biggest thingsin their lives. To them, their world is right there in that feeling and very little exists outside of it. The world is reduced to the here and now.
Of course, in moments of frustration and sadness, this can be overwhelming. Part of your job as a caretaker is to reach into that world and help bring it into order and to expand it bit by bit as they grow and learn that this overwhelming world can be a safe and joyful place. But even when the toddler’s world isn’t entirely overwhelming, it is still all encompassing.
When I am invited into a child’s world, I am invited into the moment of it. I am invited into the game, the experience, or the feelings of right now. When a two-year-old asks me to play the same song on the guitar for the seventh time in a row so he can keep drumming, he isn’t thinking about the clothes he’s going to wear tomorrow, or the things he wants to do later, or how he acted yesterday and how he’s feeling embarrassed about it now.
He is only thinking about drumming. He’s thinking about the sticks in his hands and the chair transformed into a high hat and snare; the world doesn’t exist outside of the right in front of him. He jumps for joy when his drum sticks hit the couch cushion and cries in despair when the strumming stops. His emotions are big because he hasn’t learned how to compartmentalize or repress or distract himself.
He is slowly learning, but his world still just exists right now. And I see God in this small, yet largest world ever experienced. I feel God in the calm between joy and sorrow, feel Him in the attention to detail of the seventy-fifth block tower of the day, and feel His love as I hold a sobbing child as he calms down.
Exist in the now
All our worlds exist in the now, but I know that I often neglect or am afraid to pay attention to it because it can feel too scary, boring, or overwhelming.But it is in this world of the moment where a child’s needs are. His need for play, for love, and for attention. Where his small world is so big that he can invite those around him into it.
What if Jesus is calling me to live like this – to be more childlike? And what if being childlike looks like allowing myself to fully enter into the world as it is in the moment?Not thinking about tomorrow or yesterday,not allowing myself to be distracted by my worries and doubts, but just inhabiting the world as it is right now? To leave one overwhelming, big world behind for the overpowering experience of the small, present moment?
I think that if my world were a bit smaller then I would more consistently encounter a God who is much bigger than I could ever imagine.
Rebecca Triplett constantly strives to love people around her; she also loves fuzzy socks, her five sisters, pink and orange alstroemerias, calligraphy, and sour gummy worms.
Rebecca constantly strives to practically love people around her. She also loves fuzzy socks, her five sisters, pink and orange alstroemerias, calligraphy, and sour gummy worms.