I knelt down on the floor and hugged my daughter as I picked her up from preschool. In a preschool classroom, of course, doing that is an invitation for all nearby kids to sidle up next to you for a hug and to share a bit of random information like “I’m Audrey. I like dinosaurs. I have a splinter in my finger.”
I had retrieved my daughter’s worm craft from her cubby, complimenting her on it’s wiggliness, when Audrey leaned in to smell it. Because that’s what you do when you’re in preschool. You smell things that seem interesting. And it wasn’t just the worm she was smelling – she seemed to be taking in everything about our little moment together – all five senses in preschooler overdrive.
Later on that day, I found myself smiling as I thought of Audrey. What a great reminder that was to seek out people with the unabashed curiosity of a preschooler. Maybe not to stand half-an-inch from their face and sniff them, but at the very least, to approach people with a sense of interest and sincerity, to truly experience them.
That might be why Jesus, on multiple occasions, highlighted children’s faith as our standard. “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God,” He said. The word for “belongs” doesn’t mean they have exclusive rights, it means God’s kingdom – His power, glory, and fullness – exists for them… it is present for them right here, right now. And He wants us as adults to have that too.
I could have been weirded-out by Audrey’s being “in my space” as I picked up my daughter. But instead, because of her, I found myself sitting and playing with my 18-month-old just a little longer that afternoon. Or snuggling my oldest daughter and asking more meaningful questions about her day that night. A few days later, I’m still lingering a bit longer at Starbucks, actually learning the names of the Baristas I’ve seen there for the past few years. Or rolling down my window to say, “Hi!” to another mom I know when I see her in front of a store, instead of just driving by.
You know what? I in those simple moments of enjoying people, I really do see more of God’s kingdom in the here and now – more of His love for people around me and His handiwork in my own life.
And I don’t even have to sniff people to appreciate it all!