“Mom,” Julia said, “I learned today that vacations are ruined on little kids. I don’t know why parents even bother.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, today I asked the little girl I babysit for what her favorite part of her trip to Florida was and you know what she said? ‘I got to drink Sprite!’”
We had a good laugh over that one, but I keep thinking that there’s got to be a lesson in there somewhere. It makes me wonder, is life completely wasted on us? Maybe God’s just looking down thinking, “I gave them so much. Everything, in fact. And all they do with it is barely exist. I came to give them LIFE . . . abundantly . . . and this is what they do with it?”
Kind of reminds me of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when the old man is sitting on his porch listening to a young George flirt with Mary. The old man casts aside his newspaper and says, “Why don’t you kiss her then?” George says, “What did you say?” and the old man repeats himself, “Why don’t you kiss her?” George hems and haws and can’t figure out how to take action, and finally the man throws his hands in the air and says, “Aw, youth is just wasted on the young.”
When we were young we thought like a child, but as we get older we’re supposed to have open eyes, to see the world with more maturity. But do we? Do we look around and see those who need a touch from us? We hold the most important thing in our hands—do we share it?
I read a heartbreaking essay this week, written by a friend of mine who recounted sitting with a little boy on a plane—an 8 year old unaccompanied minor. The plane hit turbulence and was diverted to another airport for a while, and the little boy was scared. My friend comforted him, sat with him, and became his friend on that flight, but she lamented that she didn’t share with him the most important thing—that he is loved by Jesus.
I’ve done that--or not done that. I know I have. I’m absolutely certain that I’ve had more misses than hits in that area.
So what do we do? How do we open our eyes and really see? How do we go to Florida and do so much more than just drink Sprite?
How do we walk on the beach, feeling every grain of sand between our toes?
Or splash in the water, waving our arms overhead with abandon?
Or take in every pink and blue and purple, every wispy cloud, every sparkle on the water while the sun sets spectacular like the most amazing free show on earth right in front of us?
How do we really feel the warmth of the sun on our skin or the breeze that brushes our hair across our face or the tingle of electricity when our lover takes our hand?
How do we really live when life seems like endless hours of travel for work or a never ending stack of papers that needs grading or when the baby won’t. stop. crying? How do we move one foot in front of the other when the diagnosis isn’t good? How do we open our eyes to the needs of others when our own needs feel so, so great?
Life feels, some days, like our Sprite has gone flat.
Here are perhaps a few suggestions that help my soul on those lifeless days. Maybe they will speak to yours as well.
Get to know Jesus. He is, after all, the one who came so that we can have life (John 10:10). Seems like life, especially a well-lived life, might be important to Him.
Say your prayers. When I was a little girl we prayed a nightly prayer that I still think about today: “Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. When in the morning light I wake, help me the path of love to take.” That simple prayer reminded me to daily choose the path of love. I like that. I find that when I pray regularly I am better able to keep my eyes trained for the person who needs a little more attention that day.
Give thanks. A grateful heart looks around and sees so much more than a complaining heart does. A grateful heart takes note. A grateful heart sees not what has been lost, but what has been gained. Through gratitude, the colors of our day become richer, the experiences more meaningful, the details more noticeable.
So, yeah, vacations may be lost on the little ones. Youth may be wasted on the young. But may it never be said of us that this life that God has given us has been lacking.
It’s Sprite . . . and then some.