She was walking up to her front door, her blue backpack lightly bouncing up and down with each step. That backpack was the thing that caught my attention as I turned the corner on my way home the other day. It was nearly half as long as she was tall. She was a little girl. I wondered why she had such a large backpack. Now, maybe it was show-and-tell day and there was a large stuffed animal inside. I hope it was not filled with homework. I am convinced that the best homework for all young children is a good dose of play. Not on technology but real play, with real things and real people. Children need real play with the aid of their imaginations. Play can take you beyond the moment to what may be.
A number of years ago, Po Bronson wrote an article, “In Defense of Children Behaving Badly.”* He said, “It’s widely accepted in our society today that young kids’ behavior is a window into their future… However, it turns out not to be true. One simply must be very careful prematurely judging early childhood behavior.”
Years ago, I remember someone telling me about attending an Elementary School Parent Teacher Conference. The teacher said if the family ever decided to take a bike ride or play a game and as a result their child didn’t have time to do their homework, no worries. They could just jot down a note explaining why the homework was not done. The teacher understood that learning takes place in all kinds of ways.
I never had a teacher say that to me but always wished that I had. A teacher like that helps to expand our view. We have all heard about the studies that show that our minds are not fully developed until at least age 25. One of the greatest wonders of life is that we have the power to transform! We do not have to think the same thoughts. We do not have to keep doing things in the same way. We can develop better thoughts and do things in a better way. We can be transformed.
Even after we pass the age of 25, we are made to keep growing and maturing. We all deserve the grace of time and the agency to grow and explore. It is so important to remember this because life doesn’t always make things easy. We will have times of smooth sailing as well as times when we face a sea of troubles. As we wade through challenges and uncertainty, sometimes it helps to live in the moment, one day at a time. But sometimes it helps to claim the not yet for today, trusting in what will be; believing things can change.
There is a very powerful reminder of this in the story of the people of Israel. They were living as slaves in Egypt and in the midst of it all God promised to deliver them but it did not happen immediately. They had to live with the promise of what will be and in time deliverance did come.
Psalm 114 tells us, “When Israel went out from Egypt…the sea looked and fled…the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.” God peeled back the Red Sea so they could cross over it on dry land. The Psalm gets at the wonder of it all. When the sea saw the presence of God, it fled. It’s as if God scared the sea away. God fulfilled his promise in such a way that it could not be denied. Even the mountains and the hills skipped when they saw it and praised Him.
Are you carrying a heavy backpack?
Wherever you are, if you are in the middle of a good time or in a hard time, know that there is more to come. You are not done yet. Give yourself and those around you the grace of time and the agency to grow and explore. With God, you can live beyond the moment into what may be.
*Newsweek, October 22, 2009