When I was a little girl, my family took a trip to New Mexico. We stayed in a cabin and did all of the fun things that families with kids do on vacation: miniature golf, cool restaurants, and natural wonders. One day we decided to go to a go-cart track. When we walked up to the ticket booth, there was discussion between my parents as to whether I should go on the smaller track, with slow little cars, or on the big track with the fast, cool cars. In the end, my dad convinced my mom that I was definitely too old to do the baby track. I climbed into my go-cart and cautiously creeped along the track while all the other kids zoomed past me. The more laps I made, the more confident I became. Pretty soon I was going pretty fast, only getting lapped by the other kids once instead of multiple times.
And then it happened.
I’m not sure what exactly went wrong. But, I crashed. And I don’t just mean that I ran into a barrier and stopped abruptly. I mean, I flipped my go-cart. One minute I was racing along like a big kid, the next I was underneath my car, hair wrapped firmly around the axle, legs scraped, pride definitely wounded. My parents and the workers at the track ran over to rescue me.
When I came out from under that go-cart, my dad was as white as one of those crisp, clean high thread-count sheets that are found in the kind of hotels where we didn’t stay on family vacations. I remember feeling sorry for him. He had no way of knowing, when he was arguing for my grown-up experience on the big track, that I would manage to total a go-cart that day. He didn’t realize that I am the type of person who, as an adult, would probably have a similar experience if I tried go-carting tomorrow. He just wanted to help me gain a little independence, to feel a little more trusted, a little more competent. And I never, ever, for one minute blamed him for that accident.
But, as a parent, I now know that he probably agonized over that wreck. He was probably riddled with guilt, knowing that he had pushed for the big track. And, when he reads this post, he will probably cringe when he remembers the moment when he saw that overturned go-cart.
I recently had a similar experience with Adelade. I decided that she was old enough to try something that ended up getting her hurt. Only this really was my fault. As I held her and tried to comfort her in her pain, my own tears began to fall in regret and sorrow and guilt. Immediately she pulled back and begged me not to cry. She quickly declared that it was not my fault. And she would not settle down until I dried my tears, which believe me I did quickly so as not to add to her distress.
Her forgiveness was instantaneous. Her love covered any notion that I might be at fault. And, even though I was ultimately the source of her pain, she wanted me, my comfort, my hugs and kisses, my babying above all else in that moment.
I know that we often say that kids can be so mean. But, kids are amazing people. The longer I know mine, the better I understand why Jesus said that we should have child-like faith. Because children are fiercely devoted to those whom they love. They love better and forgive faster. They extend grace and mercy without conditions. They often give us a clearer picture of Christ-likeness than any adult.
I am humbled by the love that my children so recklessly shower me with. They don’t hold back. They aren’t saddled with the nuances and reservations of the way most of us adults dole out love. I want to me more like a child, loving without abandon.
Even when I’m hurt.