Over the past few months, I’ve gotten the chance to spend a lot of great quality time with my niece. She’s your typical bright, vibrant, inquisitive and innocent six-year old girl. She revels in her own beauty and knows how rare and precious she is. She’s a princess after all. I marvel at her ability to trust God wholeheartedly. Hers is a view that is untainted and free from the pressure of life’s pain. Her life has yet to know betrayal, hardship and immeasurable loss and disappointment. And so the purity with which she pursues God’s heart leaves me honestly amazed, intrigued and personally challenged.
One night while I was babysitting, something I rarely get a chance to do, we were getting ready for bed. I let her read a good night story to her little brother and when she was done we tucked him in. She dilly dallied a little and humored me with her attempts to evade the inevitable. When she was finished, I reminded her to say her prayers.
I dropped to my knees and knelt beside her and listened as she began to pray.
“Dear God, thank you for the trees and the air,” her prayer began. “Thank you for the clouds and the birds”, she continued. “Wow!”, I thought, “When was the last time I truly thanked God for birds and clouds?” I couldn’t recall a time my prayers had been that simple. Often times, when I pray it’s for life’s usual requests. Family and Friends. Check. Protection from hurt, harm and danger. Check. Thanks for my health and waking me up. Help with the problem of the day. And lots and lots of clarity. Occasionally, I’ll remember specific prayer requests for a friend or two in need. But when was the last time I really, really took time to just thank Him for His creation? For being created and the ability to create. When was the last time I reveled in my life’s blessings versus lifting up its problems?
The simplicity of her prayer made me want to try as best I can to begin to view my life through the lens of a child.
I crave that type of purity and innocence again. I long for a life so simple and unencumbered that I am able to see and hear God clearly even in the midst of calamity. I want to feel and remember his goodness to me each and every day. I want to revel in His quiet simple presence that shows up for me in birds, flowers and trees. If I could consistently view life through this lens, then perhaps it would be easier to bear life’s hardships and difficulties when they come. For through this lens, I am reminded that life in its totality really is good – no matter the struggle of the day, week, year or season.
When she was done praying, I tucked her in, turned off her light and she obediently fell asleep. Since then, I’ve listened to her prayers more closely. They really are that good. And I’m challenging myself each day to more carefully consider my daily petitions to God by acknowledging the simple graces he provides me a little more often.
To get started, I made a little list of things I’ve already learned from my beautiful six year old niece and hope it will encourage you to consider your own:
- At my core, I am pure and innocent.
- I have much to be thankful for. Sunshine. Food. Air. And family.
- God’s work in and around me is always beautiful.
- I should sometimes consider others’ needs before my own.
- When people hurt me, I should speak up and tell them:
“Hey! When you did that thing you did, it really hurt my feelings.”
- Don’t worry. Be happy. 🙂
- I should see, look for and expect goodness in all things.
- I am smart, pretty and can run super fast.
- I am scared sometimes and it’s okay to tell someone.
- It’s okay if I mess up and don’t get things just right.
It’s amazing what you can learn when you are present and available in the moment. And it’s more amazing how smart and aware six year old princesses can be. I thank my niece for this simple revelation and I am inspired to keep looking for opportunities to embrace my life’s daily blessings.