My daughter’s first words have got me thinking about what it means to have a childlike faith.
by Ryan Langr
Baby’s First Words
Did you know the word “hi” could be three syllables? Neither did I until it became my daughter’s first word. I actually think there’s about a dozen different ways she says it depending on the situation. Because it’s the only word she knows, she uses it for just about everything—to greet herself in the mirror, to express love, to talk to her toys, and to tell us she’s ready to get out of bed. For her it is an all-encompassing expression of her positive experiences. For me, it is a daily lesson in what it means to have a childlike faith.
After being immersed in this positive attitude of hers, I’ve given great thought to what it means to have “childlike faith,” and there are four elements that I see present in my daughter’s first word that challenge me to capture the same attitude.
Four Elements of a Childlike Faith
Engaging: My daughter is definitely an extrovert, a trait she must get from her mother. She is always excited to engage with the world, to explore it, and to experience it. Like most children, she is constantly curious, and every experience holds wonder and awe.I have realized that my faith should be like this, too. I cannot be content to simply know about God, to talk about theology, but I must engage with my faith passionately, openly, and experience the beauty in every experience.
Unquestioning: My daughter is absolutely fearless—another trait she get’s from her mother. She will go to strangers without a thought, dive off the couch head first if I let her, and climb on anything with no second thought. In short, she is unquestioning about what an experience has to offer. I think we learn to question those who we trust, and as adults we ask, “Is this really what God wants me to do? Does God really want me to jump into this experience head first?”
I think St. John Baptist de La Salle captured this when he said, “If God had revealed to me the good that could be accomplished by this institute, and had likewise made known to me the trials and sufferings which would accompany it, my courage would have failed me, and I would never have undertaken it.” Now, I know that my daughter’s attitude can be dangerous, but what it has taught me about childlike faith is that when God calls us to do something, we should dive in head first and follow him. Children do this naturally, but we lose this ability as we get older.
Joyful: Apart from the usual cases of “starvation” and being forced to sleep, my little girl is always joyful. She is quick to recover from a bump on the head or and unexpected loud noise, and is always smiling and laughing once she anticipates her need will be met. Basically, she always has a positive outlook on life, as much as a one-year-old can. When I imagine children meeting Jesus in the Bible, they always run to him in joy, happy and ecstatic just to sit on his lap. A childlike faith always finds the silver lining, the thing to be thankful for, and the blessing in any experience. It’s an attitude that many adults need to purposefully reclaim.
Contagious: My daughter’s attitude is contagious. It’s impossible to be around her smiles, laughs, and hi’s without becoming joyful. That joy is contagious is a common adage, and the same can be said for a childlike faith. If the world around you really sees you living your faith joyfully and engaged in the person of Christ, they will want what you have, even though they may not know the cause of it.
Go Have a Childlike Faith
I think these four elements of a childlike faith are something that we lose as we get older. As adults we need to be mindful of this faith and actively work for it. I am grateful that God used my daughter’s first words to remind me about this, and now every day with my daughter is a practice in engaging joyfully in my faith from a childlike perspective. How do you try to live a child like faith?