[I wrote this blog almost 5 years ago. This September Olivia will begin Kindergarten and turn 6 years old. I was reminded of this blog the other day, which was originally posted on a website I was writing for at the time which is no longer in existence. I’m glad I was able to find a copy of it. Hopefully you will enjoy it. I think the lessons in here still ring true, for me anyway.]
I have pondered for many months what it must be like inside the mind of a child.
More specifically, what must it be like inside the mind of an infant?
Well, more specifically, a semi-pre-toddler (I think I just invented that double hyphenated term). Even more specifically, what must run through the head of my semi-pre-toddler-infant-like-mini-person Olivia Joy Murch, affectionately known to many of her friends as “O. Joy.”
The kid is hilarious. She was hanging out in our back yard the other day, and in between running laps and taking some swings with her plastic wiffle-ball tee set; she stops and listens to a bird squawking from our neighbor’s rooftop. She cocks her head to the right, gets a startled look on her face as the bird chirps, then knowingly but inquisitively points her gaze toward Carissa and me and says, “A Bird.”
“Yeah honey, that sure is a bird.”
She looks back toward the roof where the bird has just launched from, then back at us, then back toward the tee ball set, then back toward the roof, then shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders jumps in the air and takes off toward the other side of the yard to resume running her laps.
When Olivia was born I held her in the hospital and one of the first things I said to her was “I’m excited to meet you Olivia Joy. I love you. I’m ready for you to teach me about God.”
She runs laps with perfect form. High knees almost touching her chest, each step rolling on the balls of her feet, body upright, torso cocked a little backward, arms flailing looking every day more like Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire.
Her run is determined, but not in the way that you and I run. I run determined to complete the journey. I run with purpose and resolve, hating almost every step, but pounding the pavement harder and harder in view of the end result. I run to strengthen muscles, keep in shape, lose fat, build endurance, exercise my heart; I run to win a battle. I can guarantee you that she doesn’t think about any of these things when she runs. I run for a release, and she does as well. But my run releases stress, thoughts, energy, sweat, anger, frustration, and “endorphins.” O. Joy’s run releases life. She laughs almost uncontrollably as she runs. Most of the time she’ll stop running because she’ll run into something (a wall, a couch, a chair, another little kid), or because she’ll be laughing so hard that running just won’t do to get it all out. She has to somersault and lie on her back getting tickled to release the life and laughter that running just can’t cure.
This is how she runs.
She doesn’t think about her waste line or her hamstrings or her pulse or her boss or her car payment. She doesn’t think about the 6 O’clock news or politics or the Dow or her 5-year plan or the latest issue at work that robs her of sleep.
What does she think about?
Honestly, I don’t know. But something in her stride brings laughter to my face, peace to my mind, and joy to my heart. Something in her stride tells me that the world and life and love and truth and God’s kingdom are bigger than the things that I think about when I run.
Thanks for the lesson O. Joy.