Monday, March 12, 2007

From the mind of a 4 year old

My sweet daughter Gillian is 4 ½ years old. Recently, she has had some interesting things to say about God. I cherish being able to talk to her about these things.

We visited IKEA in December 2006 in order to purchase a play floor mat that was on sale. Upon walking up to the entrance, Gillian was struck by how big the letters I-K-E-A were on the side of the building. Looking up, she said “Wow, Mom! Those letters are bigger than God!” After I’d finished laughing, I asked her how big she thought God was. She said, “Like Daddy, only a little bit bigger.” Now, Ben is 6’2”, but that doesn't really do justice to know big God is. Knowing that we had been looking at globes and maps recently, I asked her to consider how small Frisco is compared to Texas and then how small Texas is compared the rest of the world. Then I asked her, “If He can see the whole world with His eyes, imagine how big His head is?” Her eyes grew to the size of saucers, and I knew the point had been received.

God is bigger than we can comprehend, and although I don’t know if His Head is larger than the earth, I just wanted her to understand that God is a lot larger than she was giving Him credit for. I know it’s hard for a 4 year old to understand how God can rule the whole world and yet be involved in the simplest details of our lives. Heck, it’s hard for this 30 year old to understand. But I’m trying the best I can to help her navigate through her thoughts.

Here’s something that happened last week. It was the middle of the night, and I heard Gillian crying. I just figured perhaps she had not made it to the bathroom in time, and although I was right about that, there was something else making her upset. It took me a good while to understand what was wrong, but in the end I discovered much to my shock, that she was saying that she didn’t want to go to heaven. After I asked a few more questions, I realized that she is afraid of heights and had apparently been taught that heaven is up in the sky. She was worried about falling. Poor thing. I tried to assure her as best I could that God would keep her safe in heaven, and I thought I had gotten through to her.

But the next night, within 5 minutes of my laying her down, she started crying again. She told me that she didn’t want to go to heaven, but that she wanted to stay on earth. I asked her if she was scared of heights again, and she said no. After a few more questions, I figured out that she was afraid of being taken away from those people and those things she loves. I told her (and I pray that it is true) that by the time she gets to heaven, we will all be there waiting to welcome her, and that it will be a celebration because we will all be together with God who loves us. She seemed to like this idea and calmed down. She hasn’t brought it up since, but I know it won’t be the last time.

This morning, as I was checking email, her little voice tugged at my heart, and I grabbed her up into my lap and gave her hugs until she cried ‘mercy’ (It’s a little game that I taught her to teach her about mercy. I figured it was better than her calling me ‘uncle.’). She told me that she loved me more than God loves me. I thought that was so sweet!! I just said, “Really? Is that possible?” She vigorously nodded her head and added “At least I try.”

Gillian is really smart and asks some deep questions sometimes, questions that scores of books have been written about, issues that have been debated by our greatest thinkers. It’s a struggle for me to remember that she’s only 4. I can’t wait to see how God shapes her thoughts and draws her into a fruitful relationship with Him.


Chris Freeland said...

So glad you're posting again! This is one of my favorite blogs to read.

Gillian, ahem...Peter Pan, ahem... Mary Lou is one sharp cookie. And she's fortunate to have a Mom and Dad who love her so much.

I hope she never loses the ability to think big thoughts and dream big dreams - there's something about life that tends to wring that out of us - we start off learning to finger paint, but spend the rest of our lives learning how to be "right" and color inside the lines. I'm jealous of kids like Gillian sometimes.

chloeadele said...

My photography company is actually called "Outside the Lines" because I cherish thinking bigger than we're taught to think. and I love the way kiddos haven't learned to put everything in a box yet. I pray I never do anything to dim her radiant light.

thanks Chris.