Copyright 2016. Christine Tsen. All rights reserved.‚Äč


When my daughter was a child, she flapped her wings on the soccer field pretending she was flying, pointedly ignoring where the soccer ball was going, which was in the opposite direction.  She was more engrossed in her imagination than in competition.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child.  When I became a (wo)man (an adult), I did away with childish things." (1 Cor. 13:11)  

This is a Bible verse I'm not sure I completely understand.  I have certainly had a little immaturity (I mean, everyone has a little, right?).  No, not just a little, maybe a bit more -- some.  Okay, a lot.  Gobs.  Enough to go around.  Enough to get me into situations that have astonished and frustrated my friends and loved ones.  You see, growing up and even now, I've believed it's more important to remain childlike and laugh every day than it is to be mature.  When I was a young girl, my favorite activity was spying.  Finding out the secrets of others and observing their behavior in a notebook gave me hours of glee :)  I haven't changed much.   But I need to know when to get serious, when to keep my word as an adult, when to tell the truth without embellishment, how to be absolutely trustworthy to those closest to me.

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)

And so here is the paradox.  That one must be an adult, but also be like a child, if one is to reach self-actualization (and heaven).  Confront life's challenges, make life's hard decisions, maturely.  Where does that reside in the life of a child?  From the head?  The heart?  From intuition?  Or instruction?  All of these.  Does it really have to be this complicated?  Maybe that's what Jesus was saying here --- that as a by-product of growing up and becoming an adult, we complicate things, many times overly much, until we make ourselves sick.  A childview uncomplicates the drama; they just see the solutions, unfettered.

I am learning through melancholy, through a rupture in a treasured relationship, that I need to listen more carefully to my dear others.  As I sit here with a fever, probably sick from crying, I realize that for me it often takes the insights of others to help me recognize where I need to take stark notice.  

"You can do what I cannot do.  I can do what you cannot do.  Together we can do great things.  --Mother Teresa

I tend to overlook failings of others and also myself.  This is humility, to recognize that one cannot do it all.  I just want to live in the spirit of love, believing that the heart can be healed and joyful and thrive with intimate connection to another.  Love never fails, never ends, and is the only thing that lives eternal.  

"And now these three remain, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13)

And I don't think we should be putting conditions on our love for others.  I don't expect perfection in my friends or in myself.  Of course, I am hardest on myself, and that is as it should be.  But what I am saying is I accept everyone as they are, flaws and all, and especially those I care deeply for.  God, I think people are beautiful as they are.  Perfection is an illusion, the pursuit of it is a trap, and the enforcement of it (i.e., criticism) harms the soul.  I want to build up, to get on with relationship and love people just as they are.  Human.  We are all in this sky and mud together.  

"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud." -- Carl Sandburg