Last week there was a bug making its way through my house, and I don’t mean the kind with wings or umpteen gazillion legs or even beady little eyes. This bug was more of the stomach variety. My daughter was the first to show the symptoms on the weekend. I got hit on Monday going into Tuesday. Finally, on Wednesday, the bug finally won its battle and took out five people in one afternoon including my two year old. Still reeling and feeling nauseous myself, I spent a good portion of Wednesday cleaning vomit and such (sorry for the details, but they’re integral to the story). Anyhow, come Thursday I was sick (pun intended) of cleaning and disinfecting, so when my two year old son laid down with me in my bed to watch TV, I asked, “How’s your stomach feeling Nathan?” He replied, and I quote, “I’m fine. How’s your back doing?”
As frequently happens with my kids, I was floored by his response. After some reflection, I walked away with a couple of important reminders:
1. Kids are more perceptive than we give them credit for. Nathan will be three in November. I don’t often discuss my medical problems with him, but he understood that his Dad’s back hurt. I had my final of three shots of steroids the Monday before, and he was legitimately concerned with how I was. Now, I’m a bit partial and a bit biased when I say that Nathan is a smart kids, but I think we need to remember that kids of all ages are capable of much more than we give them credit for. If a three year old is capable of comprehending a situation like this and wondering whether or not things were all better, imagine what even older kids are capable of. We should never, ever, underestimate a child’s capacity for understanding or compassion.
2. For me, Nathan’s inquiry was a physical example of the spiritual role kids play in our lives. I know in my own life that my kids, and the kids in our children’s ministry, serve as a spiritual barometers for us as “adults.” I can’t count the number of times when something my kids said or did led me to reevaluate my current relationship with God. Based on my experience with kids, I am firmly convinced that God not only teaches us about him by placing kids in our lives, but also speaks directly to us through the words and actions of kids.
So, next time you’re hanging out talking to your kid or one of the kids in your ministry, remember that God put you in their life to teach them about him, but more importantly, he put that child in your life to teach you!