My husband says he fell in love with me because I had an innocence about me and a wonder for life. He loves that I twirl and spin around in the grocery store aisle, laugh hard at the cheesiest jokes and am mesmerized by twinkling lights and sunsets. I never noticed that quality about me until he pointed it out. He said, “That is what we should be like as Christians, full of wonder because we live in the kingdom of God.”
Life throws us curveballs, loss, massive disappointments and grief. People we love the most let us down in the worst ways and our hearts get broken. How in the world do we maintain a starry-eyed wonder and child-like excitement?
Jesus is clear when He says, “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15 NIV.
What is this verse really saying? Think back to when you were seven years old. Let’s say you really loved dolls and your grandmother said to you, “Darling, I am giving you all of the American Girl dolls, the book collections and all the doll clothes to change their outfits along with a huge dollhouse for them to live.”
You would throw your arms around your grandmother and shriek with delight and excitement! You only wanted one, maybe two dolls if you were really good, but she is giving you more than you would have asked of imagined!
You wouldn’t think twice about if you deserved it or not. You wouldn’t say, “Oh grandmother, I can’t accept that. I wasn’t nice to my brother this week.”
Jesus says we will not receive the Kingdom of Heaven unless we become like little children. Little children are wide-eyed, pure-hearted and believe in enchanted possibilities and people.
But as we grow older and experience the darkness of this world, our hearts can become hardened and calloused. We put up walls, become jaded and replace our wonder with “realism” in order to protect ourselves.
We like the feeling of being in control of what we deserve, so we adopt the system that rewards are based on our behavior. It’s the perfect recipe for a life of shame, self-sabotage and wrecked boundaries. We feel better about letting the bad in while tirelessly trying to stay afloat among people by letting our good out.
We are wary of accepting or receiving blessings because there are often strings attached that muddle true intentions.
Sometimes, we aren’t even aware of the damage that events or people have caused. We block it out, but it still has manifested in some way. I didn’t realize I had any damage until Kris and I did premarital counseling and I started paying attention to my “triggers.” An event that triggers an adverse reaction in you usually reveals the cause and brings back memories you may need to work through.
As adults, we enter into survival mode, but we are offered a life of thriving in the Kingdom. People can’t connect with us when walls are up so thick we don’t even know where the first layer begins. There is not flicker of light in our eyes left.
You can smile as big as you want, have your make-up done like Kim K, have the hottest body and rock stylish outfits. But something will be missing, the heart warmth isn’t there and the eyes are dead.
Although the theme of my life for 9 years had been rejection, I stood in the wings praying before the lights went up for Miss USA. My heart and eyes were full of wonder and excitement. All the times I had been overlooked, a runner up, abandoned or gossiped about hadn’t manifested into bitterness. I was thankful for what I had overcome and where God had brought me.
The Kingdom of God is at our fingertips! We inherit it when we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but we have to cultivate the space to receive it and experience more and more increase of it in our lives every day.
Just like a seed that can’t grow in rocky, unwatered soil; The kingdom can’t grow within us when our hearts are hard and thirsty for the living water. (Jesus.) John 4:14
How do we maintain that childlike wonder when we endure so much heartbreak?
Here are 10 ways:
Understand who God is:
God is perfect love, He is whole and complete. 1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out all fear.” Hardening our hearts is our fear, but God is a fear-caster and love-replacer. No matter how much hurt we go through, He will always mend our hearts us back up to wholeness. Let Him knit your heart back to wholeness and trust that He will bring every good work to a full completion. Psalm 47:3, Philippians 1:6
Just because one boy or even a lot of boys broke your heart or cheated on you doesn’t mean all boys are bad. Just because you never had genuine friendships with girls for most of your life doesn’t mean you can’t now. You may need to adjust the type of people you’ve been letting in, but there are great people out there that you can absolutely do life with beautifully.
Embrace your story:
I think one of the biggest reasons I didn’t allow myself to get jaded is because I grew up reading inspirational biographies. Everyone who ever achieved happiness or anything great overcame adversity first. When I was in middle school, I noticed that my chorus teacher never gave me the chance to have a solo one single time. I auditioned every time. The same 3 girls always got the solos. I remember specifically telling myself, “It’s okay, rejection will be apart of my story one day. Just stay strong.”
Take time to notice God’s splendor:
Sometimes when I’m stuck in the crazy 5 o’clock traffic of LA feeling the stress of the day, I look out at the sky and focus on the glory of the sunset. God romances us every day with His paintings in the sky, the glittering stars at night and the flowers that bloom around us. When we stop to notice, He loves that and meets us there and shows us things we didn’t see before. That is wonder. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 2 Peter 3:5 NIV
Be thankful for where God has brought you:
God has brought you out of more situations than the devil has led you into. Reflect on those times. You may not be where you want to be, but thank God you aren’t where you used to be. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2 ESV
Fan the flame in your heart with worship:
I feel like worship is the place where God meets me the most powerfully. Hearing God’s voice or seeing visions from Him are likely in worship because we are seeking His face and His presence, instead of His hand. Worship is magical whether you are in church, a worship concert or alone on your living room floor soaking to your favorite worship album. Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.
Isaiah 25:1 NIV
Get good at receiving: Having Godly boundaries is letting the good in and the bad out. Proverbs 4:23 ESV says to guard your heart above all else, because it determines the course of your life. Many people confuse this verse by blocking their heart from receiving good experiences and connections with people.
Imagine your heart has a fence with a door. The fence is the protector that keeps the good in and the door opens to let more good in and to let the bad out. Receive blessings, but be discerning with the treasure of your heart.
In the same way, Matthew 7:6 says not to cast your pearls among pigs because they will trample over them and then turn to tear you to pieces. This means that you can’t give your heart to people who are unable to see your worth.
Wear a flowy dress and twirl:
I tap into my soft feminine spirit when imagining I’m an enchanted fairy in a field twirling around in a flowing skirt. It’s important to nurture that softness because it’s beautiful and opens your heart to compassion, gentleness and connection. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV
See every day as an adventure:
God loves to play with us. It often feels like a game of hide and seek with Him. He longs for us to seek after Him and be found. Just talk to Him like you would a friend and ask Him to reveal himself in sweet, little ways throughout the day. Praying very specifically for how you want to experience Him is the best because then it’s more exciting and undeniable when He shows up to those answered prayers.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2 NKJV
Laughter really is the best medicine. It’s also important to note what we are laughing at. Is it fun, wholesome good humor that Jesus would enjoy as well? When we are jaded, it’s easier to laugh at crude or distastefulness. Laugh at the good humor, even when it doesn’t come naturally at first.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2 ESV
Life is beautiful, it just depends on which lens we are looking through. We all have a little girl in each of us that wants to play, leap around and radiate the wonders of God’s Kingdom. That little girl just needs to be nurtured and tenderly cared for. Today, you can give her the love and encouragement she needed all those times she was overlooked and misused. When you have child like wonder, you won’t be able to contain the sparkle in your eyes.
Childlike Wonder = The Sparkle Effect
I praise your name because you have never left my inner child! I confess that my heart has been wounded and I have put walls up to protect it. People try to love me well, but I have rejected that love instead of receiving it openly and consequently hurt others in the process. God, I want to receive your perfect love that casts out all fear. I want to receive all the power and glory and wonder of your Kingdom that is available to me! I know I haven’t been living life as fully and wondrously as your Kingdom gives me the privilege to.
Lord, will you please show me the walls I need to tear down and grant me the wisdom to see who is safe to be vulnerable with. I know that You are the only one I can 100% trust and that people will inevitably let me down no matter how awesome they are. But help me to know the difference between a safe, loving person letting me down and an unsafe, boundary-less person. Help me not to avoid love, I want to receive it. God I trust you. Help me to become like a little child, full of wonder and openness to miracles.
I don’t want to wait to get to Heaven to experience you, I want to usher in and dwell in the majesty of your Kingdom while I’m here on earth. I declare that right now you are doing a work on my heart, restoring me back to softness. Your Kingdom is within me! Amen.
Matthew 10:13-26, Matthew 21:16, Psalm 8:2, Isaiah 11:6, 1 Peter 2:2, Psalm 131:2
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