Monday, March 20, 2006

Remembering Childlike Faith


I want to share another passage from Joyce Maynard's book, Domestic Affairs. When I first read this 20 years ago, tears stung my eyes. I was the mother of a 6-year-old and maybe that had something to do with it:

"I am a believer of rewarding children during the early stages of toilet training... This time around, Willy's prizes were tiny pink plastic figures currently much coveted by little boys across the nation, called Muscle Men. Every time he made it to the toilet on time, he got one, and though Muscle Men carry the fairly hefty price of around a quarter a piece, until one particular day when he was 2 years and a few months old, Willy's performance in the bathroom wasn't putting much of a strain on our budget. All day long I was mopping up puddles on the floor, while Willy smiled sorrowfully, commenting, "That's life."

" Then on a single day, everything changed. He woke up announcing that he wanted to go to the bathroom, and all morning long he kept his pants dry. That afternoon I took him shopping--wearing briefs, not diapers-- and there were no accidents. On the ride home, a trip of about thirty miles, Willy suddenly piped up, "I need to pee." So naturally, I slammed on the brakes and pulled over into the breakdown lane of Interstate 93. "I'm going to get another Muscle Man," Willy sang happily as I unbuckled his seat belt and led him down the embankment in some tall grass by the side of the highway. Any my heart sank, because I had left home without my supply of Muscle Men. I had no reward.

" He pulled down his pants. And just as he was finishing and we were both studying the ground, we spotted it. Nearly buried in the dirt, in the precise spot along Route 93 where my son had chosen to pee, was a pink plastic figure who looked as if he could give Arnold Schwarzeneggar a run for his money. "Oh, there's my Muscle Man," he said with total casualness, bending to pick it up. He put the figure in his pocket. I put my son back in the car. That was six months ago and he's been dry ever since."

I guess I love that story because, always, it reminds me that God does some amazing, sweet things for us. And it also reminds me of that anything-can-happen feeling I skipped around with as a child. That dreaminess which could make me spring out of bed in anticipation of the playful hours ahead... that hopefulness, that giddiness, of miracles-around-the-corner or surprises-yet-to-come.

I think that was called Childlike Faith.

I think there's a whole lot of Childlike Faith buried, not under our beds or the clothes in our closets, but beneath big piles of Adult-like Worry. And not until we let God clear away those piles of Worry do we glimpse the expectant type of faith we dropped years ago in the dust beside Life's Road.

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