Heart Lessons from a Toddler

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He looked back at me and my husband before he proceeded to run towards the playground. Every few minutes we would see him looking our direction smiling, checking to see if we were still there, excited to know that we were watching him play. Part of the time he seemed nervous, like he was waiting for us to nod our approval and assure him of his safety before he continued on. Part of the time he seemed to be longing for attention or excitedly showing us how he could go down the slide alone. And, as I stood there patting myself on the back for how I have raised a securely attached son (anyone ever taken a childhood psychology class?!), I started to ask myself if I had a “secure attachment” with my Heavenly Father.

I began to ask myself if I look to God before I run off and do my own thing. Do I check with Him before I proceed to new things? Do I anxiously wait for His attention before I complete each of my tasks? Do I get excited when I know He is watching and work even harder because I want to impress Him? Do I treat my Father the same way Jesse treated me on the playground?

See, Jesse wasn’t afraid when we were near. And he was confident and daring and willing to try new things as long as we were watching. When he wandered too far and couldn’t see us, he would quickly turn around and come back to find us. We were his source of security and confidence so he could play happily without fear.

If I treated my Heavenly Father with the same attitude as Jesse had towards us, would I be less anxious? Before I run off doing my own thing in life, if I turned to Him and waited for His nod of approval, would I even have anything to stress about? I realized while watching Jesse, that I am granted the same freedom from fear by my Lord if only I turn to Him; if only I keep myself near Him. When I remember that He is by my side, watching over my every move, making sure I am safe, there is nothing to fear. I could live freely if I adopted this mindset.

Likewise, could I live life more confidently and purposefully if I were closer to Him? Do I ever turn His way and ask Him to watch what I’m doing like Jesse did to me and my husband? Am I ever excited to do His works and impress Him? Sadly, I often forget that He is watching and instead, I do things to impress other people in this world, people whose opinions matter so much less than that of my God. Jesse knew who mattered that day on the playground. He knew our praise would boost his confidence, and he made sure he had our attention. When it’s God’s “well done” that truly matters, could I achieve more than I ever realized if I worked hard to please Him and seek His attention above all else?

Since that day at the playground last week, I’ve really been trying to look to God more. When I have been scared, I have tried to look towards His Word and remember His promises to protect me. When I’m stressed, I’ve tried asking myself “Am I on the path God that wants me on? Did I check with Him first?” During the times that I’ve noticed myself working to impress Paul or my friends, I started asking myself, “Does what I’m doing impress my Lord? Is this really worth my time?”

If you struggle with any of these things like me—running your own race and leaving God in the dust, working harder for things of this world than for Him, or feeling anxious and overwhelmed by your daily life, I encourage you to go to the park with a toddler. Watch them as they find their security and confidence in your presence. Then, go and adopt that toddler’s mindset. Give your Heavenly Father the same level of trust that toddler gave you. Because, just like a kid’s fears are washed away in the; presence of a trusted adult, there in God’s presence you will find the same child-like freedom to live a bold, brave life.

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” –Psalm 16:8