Earlier today I went for a run…holding strong to my new year’s resolution of getting back in shape! ; ) When halfway through, I encountered a family out for a walk, pushing a stroller in the beautiful SoCal sun. As I approached them I noticed an interesting phenomenon…the eyes of the child where curiously and joyfully locked onto mine, while the parents seemed to do everything within their power to avoid making eye contact. This instantly made me marvel at the joy and innocence of children, at the harsh callousness of adults, and of the words of Jesus, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I lost my innocence or describe where and how I developed my many callouses, but I know from time to time, there is a child inside that says, “Aaron, look up. Smile at that person. Acknowledge their presence. Acknowledge that they too are fearfully and wonderfully made. Say hi and be a friend.” I guess somewhere along the bumps and turns of life we silence and ignore that voice…muting it to near nonexistence. What would life look like…what would 2020 look like if we revived the child inside? To some degree, I believe that is what life is all about…regaining trust, wholeness, unabashed joy, spectacular wonder, wild imagination, and belief.
In closing, I share a poem my dear friend Neal Hook (95 years old!) shared with me. It’s called The Child Inside, by Calvin J. Edward. May it bless you, touch you, and set you free…
THE CHILD INSIDE
The child who lives inside of me
Can see the things I cannot see;
My eyes are blinded by their sight;
Unseen, his sees, by love’s pure light.
His hands, unseen, can grasp, it seems
The things that are to me but dreams;
With ears wide open he listens clear
To a still small voice mine cannot hear.
My heart, cold, hard, and sheltered kept
It seems a thousand years has slept;
A sign outside reads, “GO AWAY!”
But a little child knocking, says, “Come out and play.”
It seems love’s passions have long since died;
What’s left remaining? Hurt…Bitterness…Pride,
And a fear that chills me to the core,
For I dread the child outside my heart’s door.
In need of love, I stand and thirst;
The child inside hopes, but I fear the worst;
And when the anguish of the loneliness inside of me peeks,
Amazingly, it is the child’s tears that roll down my cheeks.
The child inside is rich, and I, though poor
Throw all my weight against my heart’s door;
For insanely I scream that I must shield
What has taken a lifetime for me to build.
But the harsh, unforgiving winter has taken its toll;
It has drained me of life; it has withered my soul;
The zest I once kept for life, grown cold,
And though still quite young, I feel so very old.
Weakened, I know that I cannot continue this fight,
For the winter rages on with no end in sight;
And outside my heart’s door I hear this faint cry,
“If I would live, then you must die.”
Alas, beaten down and broken, I, without a sound
Fall humbly surrendered to the ground;
And there as I lie, to myself having died,
The little child emerges from deep inside.
Joyously, the child laughs, saying, “At last I am FREE!
And surely I shall live eternally!”
And me? Oh, I no longer hide;
For you see, I have become “The Child Inside.”