If you have children, this will not be a surprise to you.
Unless you have a rare bird child, whose keeps his plumage preened perfectly, who puts on her bird pants before breakfast without spending fifteen minutes making trick shots of her bird pajamas into the hamper, who shows up at the birdseed trough right on time without dawdling in front of the television, who does all the bird chores before you shake your tail feathers at him even once, you’ll agree. Children are real crackerjacks at avoidance. They figure out all the sneaky ways to avoid cleaning their rooms, avoid doing their homework, avoid taking a shower at church camp (I’m looking at you, child who knows who she is!)
So it might surprise you that after church on Sunday, I discovered that these baby faced procrastinators have a hidden superpower! Believe it or not, children actually know all the secrets to doing the hard things! In fact, they’ve written the manual on the subject in their uniquely profound / hilarious / no nonsense way!
I know because I caught them. Or I should say that their Sunday school teachers did.
We shared the story of Moses on Sunday– the first part, how his mama sent him down the river in a basket rather than hand him over to certain death, how he was raised by the pharaoh’s daughter, how he killed an Egyptian he saw beating a slave, how he ran away and hid, lived life as a shepherd, and finally, how God spoke to him through a burning bush, volun-telling him to be the one to go demand freedom for the Israelites from Pharaoh.
Quite a story. And we hadn’t even gotten to the most exciting part yet.
After the story was done, the teachers asked them questions to help them process the story. Their responses to the last question revealed the children’s secret: I wonder what Moses did to get ready to speak to the Pharaoh about setting the people free.
The kids had ideas.
Y’ALL. Their responses read like a tip sheet: How To Do Hard Things!
Don’t worry. I’ll share.
“Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out.” (Contributed by a first grader.)
- Yes, wise first grader! When you need to do a hard thing, the first thing to do is to get calm. Look around and take in the situation.
- Breathe. Listen to your own thoughts. God might speak through them.
- Listen to all the voices for what they’re actually saying, apart from emotion. God might speak through them.
- Then just listen to your own breath. In. Out. God might speak through it too.
“Pray” (Contributed by a first grader.)
- Great Sunday school answer, first grader. And so true! God knows your thoughts, but let God hear you say them. Say your feelings and your worries and your questions and inner turmoil.
- Then listen. Still your mind. Feel the quiet.
- Meditate on your question to God like sucking on a cough drop. Let it dissolve. See what comes.
- Listen some more. Don’t rush.
“He got his brother. He got help.” (Contributed by a second grader.)
- Second grader, you’re smart! We don’t have to pretend we have it all together. Why do this by yourself? Find someone who has been in this hole before, or has skills that you don’t have, and ask if you can lock arms with her. Share your trouble and then listen.
- Find a whole support team if you need it. We belong to each other, right? So give someone the gift of helping you.
“Think about it, PRACTICE and pray.” (Contributed by a third grader.)
- Look at you, third grader! So wise! Practice usually makes perfect- or maybe good enough! Practice the hard words you need to say. Act it all out. Try different approaches. And as you do, listen to yourself. Listen to feedback from others. Listen for feedback from God.
“Dress like a wise stranger.” (Contributed by a fourth grader.)
- Fourth grader, I wonder what exactly were you thinking? BUT HOW I LOVE this answer! I googled this, AND LOOK WHAT CAME UP!
- I doubt this child was advising us to put on a wiseman costume or dress like one of the kids from Stranger Things. Maybe he/she meant that after you’ve prayed and practiced and thought and LISTENED, go for it! And if you’re going to go for it, DRESS THE PART, from the inside out! Believe you’re equipped to do the hard thing! Put on your super suit and get it done.
“Think, practice, pray and HAVE FUN!” (Contributed by a fifth grader.)
- Find the funny. It’s great advice, no matter what you’re doing. (Unless I’m trying to get you to clean your room or get homework done or take a shower!)
May we all have a wise team of experts to call on!