How Can I Become Like a Child? by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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macarthur“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10: 14-15

As I write this, I am coming down with a cold. I feel lousy. I want nothing more than to crawl into bed and have someone take care of me. That’s not an option, however. In fact, not only do I not have the choice of collapsing into bed, I need to care for my older son who is also sick. He needs me. I am the grown-up in this equation. I have been the adult and the mom for quite some time now. My childlike innocence left me a while ago. Life is a challenge. There is work to do, a house to take care of, and a family who depends on me. I am thankful for all of those things, but my adult responsibilities and worries are real.

But, then, I am confronted with this Gospel, which tells me that I need to become like a little child. I want to tell God, “But I am not a child! I’ve been there and done that! Those days are done.” I then try to evaluate it from the perspective of being a mother. I look at my children, and wonder, “What age child are we talking about here?” because I am not sure that my children at ages 8 and nearly 7 fit the description. In fact, thinking back to their toddler years and the way that they could protest going to Church with a volume level that could cause hearing loss, I’m not sure that they ever did. Still, there has to be some meaning here for me. What could it be? What is Jesus trying to tell me today? I need some help with this one.

Amy Welborn, writing the Living Faith reflection for Sunday, tells how she had taken her toddler daughter in the car and gone for a ride to the beach. Welborn shares, “We arrived, and she played, delighted as I sat and pondered. All this time, she had never questioned where we were going, never fought it. She had just come along for the ride, accepting and happy. . . She trusted that I loved her and would only want the best for her.” Welborn’s daughter’s trust is like the trust I need to have in God. Do my children trust? Yes, they do. I’m far from perfect, but I have tried to be a good mother. I can’t take away all their problems, but I have tried to have them feel safe and secure in my love. I think that I have succeeded in that. Then, the question becomes, “Do I trust in God’s love? Do I believe that God loves me and only wants the best for me? Can I be like a child trusting in a parent’s love?” The honest answer is “sometimes;” maybe even “most of the time.” Still, I obviously have some work to do in this area.

The homily at mass Sunday focused on dependence on God. Small children need someone to take care of them. No matter how much my six year old tries to tell me otherwise, I know that he needs a mother. Dependence means that I need God. Regardless of how much I would like to think so, I can not make it on my own. This I know. I know that if God stopped thinking about me for even a second, my very existence would cease. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t try to go my own way for a while, however. I sometimes think that I know better than God what is good for me. That road usually ends in a real mess, which I then have to lean on God to help me get out of. Sometimes the consequences are irreversible. Yes, I need to depend on God and pray that I do His will, not mine.

Even in the midst of being adults, this Gospel calls us to become like little children. It invites us to trust in God’s love and to depend on Him. This isn’t always easy, but I am a work in progress. I will keep trying!

Copyright 2009 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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4 Comments

  1. Patrice, I very much enjoyed your reflection and admit it hit close to home for me. I will, and do, confess that I have trouble with trusting God as a child trusts. I pray for that gift. I don’t think it’s arrogance on my part but rather a weariness with the world that overtakes me sometimes. Children are not weary of the world. Even the sick ones who suffer still find a way to brighten a room. I believe in our Lord and His promises. So, when hHe says we must become like children to enter the kingdom, I also remember He promised that if we come to Him that He will give us rest. So I guess I need to leave it in His hands. Blessings and thank you!. Mark

  2. I first came to the Catholicmom.com site when looking for more information on the mysteries of the rosary. The article on, “How to become like a child”, caught my eye because it’s one of my favorite parts of scripture. It gets right down to the nitty gritty of faith and trust in God. I am fifty years old and was blessed when just a young man of 26 with a revelation about this passage. At the time I was was woking for a newspaper. Often times I worked late and it was on one such ocassion that I happen to need something from the press room. The press room was busy late at night printing the next day’s paper. Even then, I enjoyed making friends throughout the company. While in the press room one of the fellas I knew saw me and came over and while talking I found out that the newspaper had lost over 2000 in circulation over the last 18 months. I was shocked that realize the loss in circulation had not been reported to employees or our advertisers and that the press room was throwing away thousands of preprinted flyers from our advertisers. Doing some checking I found that our customers were still being billed for the extra flyers. When I approached my supervisor I was told that he would look into it. After 3 months, I checked with my press room friend and nothing was changed. When I brought it up to the publisher of the paper, he said the reason they had not changed the circulation figures is that they were waiting for the new year when new rates and figures would be given to customers. Yet this had been going on for almost two years by that time. Two weeks later I was called into my supervisor’s office and terminated. Officially my supervisor said they were reducing advertising staff and my respomsibilities were going to be split up between other staff members. I was angry and frustrated. I had tried to do what was right and felt I was being punished. I got a new job quickly ,but the anger stayed with me. Until one day when my old supervisor came in to my new place of employment. I could tell he was there just to rub in the fact that I had gone over his head and had paid the price for it. Then a peacefullness settled over me and a voice seemed to speak to me. “What he has done is between him and God, how you react to it is between you and God” Ever since then, what others do and say I chaulk up to where they are in Christ and don’t take it personal. For they and I sow the seeds of our futures and what we will reap. There is a trust there in God that he will take care of me no matter what those in the world do. God’s justice is tempered by his infinite love and it is not up to me to “get even” with those who hurt me. For God knows much more than I ever will about the person who “did me wrong”.

  3. Steven,
    Wow!! I want to thank you for telling us your story!
    You have inspired me to be a better person. Thnks again for your words of wisdom.

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