Saturday, July 2, 2016
My bed is smiling at me
I was at Walmart last month and saw a cool pillow I wanted. It was one of those long ones that are intended to rest a leg on or something like that. This was no plain ordinary pillow. This pillow had Captain America, the coolest of superheroes, in my humble opinion. I picked it up and looked at the price, $9.98. That wasn't a bad price I told myself. I also told myself that I am 47 years old and should not be buying a Captain America pillow. Plus, what would I do with it? I listened to the voice of reason that occasionally comes through, and regretfully put the pillow back.
A week later, I was in the same Walmart and ran across some Captain America figures..... and again the voice of reason pointed out the ridiculousness of a guy my age buying one. And then I found them - Captain America t-shirts for $7.88. I found my size and had the same internal conversation - well, other than where would I put it - that was easy, I'd wear it. But if they weren't meant for adults, then why did they have it in my size? The shirt went into my cart.
A week later, I was again in Walmart - I shop there a lot, don't judge me. My nieces were with me and we came upon a large bin of pillow emojis about 12 inches in diameter. I thought they were cool, but really what guy my age needs a stuffed pillow that is smiling..... or crying, or some other emotion. I walked away.
Then I was in Walmart on my way to work one morning - a different Walmart this time. I ran across the bin of emotional pillows again. Maybe my voice of reason wasn't awake yet since it was so early. Maybe I just didn't care, but I found one of these emoji pillows and put in in my cart. While checking out, that voice of reason evidently woke up and started telling me that I shouldn't buy the pillow. I told it to shut up, and bought the pillow. When my mother saw it, she asked who it was for and seemed a bit surprised when I said "Me!" With a determination that I was keeping it, I ripped off the tag, and arranged it on my bed with the unemotional pillows already there. When I am reading in my lazy-boy, I look over and it looks like my bed is smiling at me. I smile back, and continue reading. (No, I don't really smile back. I am not that weird.) (OK, maybe I smile sometimes, but technically not "back at the pillow")
Who sets these standards for what adults can and can't do anyway? Sure, there may be some things if adults did that would be found disturbing... like playing in the sandbox (just go to the beach, it is considered normal there) but sometimes we make life too serious for we adults. A popular meme says "don't grow up.It's a trap!" That is amusing, but it has a good point. Being a kid was a lot easier, setting aside the bullying I got for a lot of that time. There were no bills, not many responsibilities, mom and dad took care of us, and we didn't have to worry about much.
And then we became adults. The bills came, the responsibilities multiplied and got bigger, the worries came. Many of us forgot how to have fun, or we feel that we have no time and too many responsibilities to have fun.
Matthew 18:2-4 says:
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I find myself wishing often that I had what kids have. They are energetic, most of them don't have a care in the world, they are adventurous, they have fun, they have an innocence that disappears by the time they are adults. Kids don't feel the need to wear masks or pretend they are someone they aren't. They often have more faith and belief in people and God than we adults manage to have. They haven't learned yet to be cynical. They haven't learned yet how tough life can be and how it can chew you up and spit you out. (There are exceptions to these, some kids have terrible lives and experience things no child should).
Jesus said unless we become like children, we won't enter the kingdom of Heaven. That is a bit ominous, and I find myself wondering what all that means. Taking into account what the Bible says and the things I have come up with about kids, this could be some of what Jesus meant:
Love for life
And I am sure there are more. When Jesus sat that child on his lap - well it doesn't say He did that, but I like to think that He did - looked into his eyes and the eyes of the other children; He saw something in those children that He wants for all of us. He wants that badly enough to say we must become like children to go to Heaven.
Maybe a good start would be to set aside our preconceived notions of what we are too old or mature to do. Do something spontaneous and fun. Be adventurous. Buy that adult coloring book and color.... or a non-adult one. By that teddy bear, eat that candy, dance in the rain, watch that Veggie Tales DVD, sing that kids' song....No, we can't avoid responsibilities - at least not too often - but let's be more like kids in every day life and not be so serious. Have more faith, stop wearing that mask, try to see the good in everyone.
In closing, two anecdotes:
Last night my youngest niece, Caitie (age 16), was at our house. My mom told us she had bought 7 Chinese lanterns for $10 for us to send off - a tradition we have started on July 4. Mom wondered what to do with the extra one, as there are 6 kids in our family. Caitie piped up with "give it to Uncle Mark. He is the one most like a kid in the family". (She does have a point.)
And then a story that I am guessing is not true, but applies here:
A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching his wife, who was looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she'd like to have for her birthday.
"I'd like to be eight again", she replied, still looking in the mirror .
On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Coco Pops, and then took her to Adventure World theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Roller Coaster, everything there was.
Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. He then took her to a McDonald's where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake.
Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M's. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted.
He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, "Well Dear, what was it like being eight again?"
Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.
"I meant my dress size, you idiot!"